VISO’s headquarters is located in downtown Toronto with global satellite offices in Portugal and Dubai. Led by Founder and Head Designer Filipe Lisboa and Managing Partner Tzetzy Naydenova, the couple have bound their efforts in design, production, management and marketing to build a strong, reputable, and unique fashion forward lighting company.
Lisboa’s design story begins in Portugal, where he lived until the age of nine before his family emigrated to Canada. At 26 he moved back to the country he left in search of new opportunities with a young family in tow. He began working for his family’s business setting up the sales and distribution channels but always knew he would eventually branch out on his own.
Lisboa first move into design, came shortly after watching his small children slip and fall on the tiled floor of their traditional Portuguese home, he realised that adding leather to the soles of their slippers solved the problem and his first company Tippie Toes was born. The company was a huge success, Lisboa travelled around Europe taking part in trade shows and immersing himself further into the design world, where he discovered an LED light that sparked his imagination -this was the moment VISO came to life. Lisboa designed VISO’s first collection in 1998, utilising translucent materials such as glass, opal and plastic. Noticing that Italy was the only go-to country for contemporary lighting he wanted to create something similar but making use of Portuguese industry and producers.
“From the very beginning ‘light is life’ has been the motto that has driven our approach towards design,” Lisboa says. “For us it’s about following what the market wants and the inspiration at that particular point in time.
“There is such a transformative power in lighting, transforming day to night, transforming internal spaces into calm and relaxing spaces. Lighting is such an integral part of everyone’s daily life and as a designer I carry that thinking in to every project. Lighting products and design should help tell the story of the entire space. It should transform the environment and bring warmth and uniqueness to every project. Shadow and depth is also a consideration in order to create an engaging dynamic setting.”
What it shouldn’t do as far as Lisboa is concerned is compromise. “For me the key elements are material, technology, design and function, the greatest pieces strike the perfect balance between all of them,” he says. “The Dyson Cu-beam suspension light represents the best and the worst developments in product design – the technology is amazing with its heat-pipe technology to cool the LEDs. But the light lacks a product design element. They sacrificed the entire design piece to create a technological marvel, but that’s not what lighting design is about. It’s about finding that perfect balance between the two.” For Lisboa, complying with the limitations of manufacturing can be frustrating but not without its rewards. “Our imaginations are our greatest source of inspiration but we operate within the physical space, and from an engineering perspective we need to consider longevity, materials and cost,” he explains. “But on the flip side the most rewarding thing is seeing the finished product and the joyous reaction of the client with the final outcome.”
There is a lot that Lisboa has to balance day-to-day, aside from being the CEO, he leads the sales team as well as the design direction of the company, but designing the next stand out piece is never far from his mind.
Lisboa brings his unique, uncompromising perspective of light to all of VISO’s projects, but the most notable ones, are the projects where the light becomes art, where glass and copper weave in and out of existing heritage woodwork, illuminating the seating below in a fixture that is both functional and stunning. The company recently worked with design firm Yabu Pushelberg on the Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait (featured in issue 26 of darc) and the FIVE Hotel and resort in Dubai creating beautiful brass dandelion chandeliers, pared back gold globe pendants and unique brushed brass wall sconces all with a contemporary yet timeless aesthetic, something that Lisboa predicts will be around in the design world for quite a while. “We’ve recently seen design move towards a more organic aesthetic, coupled with antique finishes like hairline bronze,” he says. “The work of Henge and Roll and Hill reflects this perfectly – I think we’ll see a continuation of this trend towards more clean and simple lines as people look to simplify their lives from all the distractions.”