Marta Figueiredo <em>Cossack</em> 2019; woven felt wool with 3D stitching, timber, acrylic paint. Courtesy of the artist and Finkelstein Gallery, Melbourne<br/>
© Marta Figueiredo

Marta Figueiredo

Marta Figueiredo
(b. 1979, Vouzela, Portugal. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Marta Figueiredo is an architect and multidisciplinary artist-designer. Since migrating to Melbourne in 2013, Figueiredo has established a design studio that combines traditional processes with innovative technologies, producing playful, joyous and sensory projects that challenge conventional design standards and approaches to sustainability.

For Melbourne Now, Figueiredo presents one of her ToTem series, Cossack, 2022, first designed in 2019. These vibrant, tactile, geometric and sculptural works toy with proportion, colour and form, and were originally conceived on a human-sized scale. Returning to her rural Portuguese heritage, Figueiredo explored centuries-old traditions, techniques and materials developed in Portugal’s highest mountains, which she re-imagines in felted wool, three-dimensional stitching, acrylic and wood. The result is remarkably modern, employing the block colours and primary shapes that characterised Bauhaus design. She also takes inspiration from Oskar Schlemmer’s avant-garde dance work, The Triadic Ballet (1912), which explores the interaction between the human body and the world. Figueiredo welcomes anthropomorphic identifications and emotional connections with Cossack, which towers over the viewer, returning adults to the relational perspective of children. ‘It is an invitation to interact’, she says. ‘To play welcoming games of frill ruffling and patting.’

Figueiredo’s work has been exhibited across the world, and was recently selected for the NGV’s inaugural Melbourne Design Fair (2022), Collectible in Brussels (2020) and Milan Design Week (2019), and is held in the collection of Métaphores: Holding Textiles Hermès, Paris. She has received several Fringe Furniture Awards (2021, 2020, 2018), was highly commended in Tasmania’s Clarence Prize for Excellence in Furniture Design (2021) and was a finalist for the Australian Furniture Design Award (2020). She also received funding to take part in the City of Melbourne’s Test Sites program for public art in 2021. Since debuting in 2019, Figueiredo’s ToTems have been exhibited in Milan, Paris, Shanghai, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.