José Cruz de Carvalho (1931 - 2015)

A very rare pair of Portuguese commodes designed by José Cruz de Carvalho for Altamira, early 60s

Rosewood, mahogany and oak

120cm (W) x 50cm (D) x 85cm (H)

121cm (W) x 51cm (D) x 85cm (H)


José Cruz de Carvalho

José Maria Cruz de Carvalho (1930–2015) is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in the history of design in the second half of the 20th century in Portugal, being contemporary with Designers such as António Garcia, Daciano da Costa, José Espinho, Eduardo Afonso Dias, Sena da Silva and Conceição e Silva.
Cruz de Carvalho graduated in Fine Arts and developed a varied career: painter, decorator, designer and above all businessman. He was the founder of two outstanding companies that were key to the development of the Design culture in Portugal: Altamira (1957), a company pioneer in the implementation of an integrated Design policy on a business perspective, and Interforma (1967) where he developed the principles created in his first project wich established a segmentation of production lines aimed at different social strata, achieving success not only in Portugal but abroad.
We must remember that, at the beginning of the second half of the 20th century, the profession of Designer was non-existent. On the other hand, and contrary to what was seen in other countries with a greater tradition in the design and production of furniture (Italy, France, Nordic Countries), architects had not yet replaced artists in the design of furniture in current use. Interior work, graphics and equipment design were normally carried out by painters and decorators who saw these opportunities as a way to increase their limited income, with architects reserving furniture design for public buildings. The development of Design in Portugal was fundamentally based on the principle of reproducing what was done abroad and it was through magazines such as Domus, Abitare, Ottagono, L'oeil, and the catalogs of foreign companies that Portuguese creators carefully followed what was happening.

“Half a century ago (1950s) ... Most of the production volume was originated in the North of the country. In the South and along the same line, with good construction quality, Móveis Sousa Braga made replicas and variants of classic pieces. The big Olaio factory produced mainly office and hotel furniture. José Espinho, linked to Olaio, designed furniture and decorations; like Lucien Donnat in his store and João Alcobia in Jalco, in Chiado, for a more well-heeled and refined public. The studio of the architect Conceição e Silva, ... was sought for the works of the best hotels, commercial establishments and residences, whose projects included the interior equipment and furniture itself. ”

J.M. Cruz de Carvalho
(late 90s)