Duration: One year.
Location: Brooklyn, New York.
Key creatives: Leo Porto and Felipe Rocha. Rocha has a BA in industrial design from Mackenzie Presbyterian University, São Paulo, Brazil; Porto has a BFA in graphic design from the School of Visual Arts, New York, New York.
Career path: Porto moved from São Paulo to New York in 2011 to study design at the School of Visual Arts and has been living there since. He’s always been interested in design and was practicing it as a hobby for a long time before understanding it as a viable career path. Porto has worked at different studios including Pentagram, Mother and Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv; before opening PORTO ROCHA, he worked as a design director at COLLINS for more than four years.
Before founding PORTO ROCHA, Rocha worked in different areas of design, including being part of Spotify’s creative team; working at Sagmeister & Walsh; cofounding Arnold, a graphic design studio in São Paulo; and completing a residency at Fabrica, Luciano Benetton and Oliviero Toscani’s creative laboratory in Italy. He credits his work experiences and the people he worked with as guiding forces in his design and advertising career of more than twelve years.
Artistic influences: When thinking about the connections between the artistic influences we enjoy the most, the common denominator is art that breaks convention, is progressive to its context and pushes culture into new territories. Music is one great example of this, from the Brazilian Tropicália movement to the New York ball culture to contemporary musicians, like Arca and Linn da Quebrada.
Favorite project: Bonde, a personal project we’ve been working on together since 2017, which started from our desire to connect Brazilian creatives living in New York and turned into the first Brazilian design conference in the United States. The first iteration of Bonde occurred in 2017 in Brooklyn and brought together more than 350 people, 10 speakers, 80 publications and 2 pop-up exhibitions. Today, we continue to share and spotlight new Brazilian talent through @bonde.br, fostering a space that initiates dialogues, collaborations and recruitment opportunities between creatives and the industry. Having started the project from scratch and going through the challenging process of organizing an event, it is rewarding seeing our event come to life and continuing to grow.
Work environment: Our physical environment has changed a lot over the course of the year. It took us a few months to find the right studio space in Williamsburg. We were happy to have our full team of eight—at the time—under the same roof and collaborating in person until COVID happened, and we had to abruptly adapt to a remote working environment. It was overwhelming at first, but in retrospect, we feel privileged to have the opportunity to work remotely without significant impact in our work processes—in part due to the fact that we’ve always collaborated with people and clients from different cities and countries.
We’re lucky to have a great team who is collaborative and hands-on, yet autonomous. Everyone has a voice. We also value balance through structured processes and respecting creative development and nonprocesses. We give our full attention to creating high-quality work, and also by being extremely critical and perfectionist when necessary. However, we also understand when to take a step back, breathe, and make sure we’re all healthy and happy in our lives and our work.
Aspirations: Although times are uncertain and things are changing every day, we know that we want to continue working on developing and transforming brands through smart and meaningful creative work. As the studio grows, we want to take on bigger challenges and continue to help brands create work that people want to engage with. We always want to connect with more people, talent and brands that recognize the value that design has on culture, their businesses and products.
Philosophy: We like to develop creative work that inspires and provokes positive, meaningful change—whether it be through large-scale projects that reach significant audiences or through socially motivated initiatives. As immigrants, we founded the studio upon the idea that unique and global perspectives are key to creating work that is both innovative and culturally aware. Through PORTA ROCHA, we see an opportunity to help build brands that have a point of view and have a dialogue with the real world.
Anything else? We are partners not just in business but in life, too!