by Ross Belfer
In Lisbon, cultural prowess and creativity are as omnipresent as the prego sandwiches and Super Bock found on nearly every street corner. The Portuguese capital city has seen a surge in new innovative enterprises opening over the past year, indicating a slow crawl out of economic turbulence. From graphic design outposts and street art galleries to communal workplaces that double as event spaces, local entrepreneurs are going out on a limb and opening new creative labs and social spaces across the city, including Village Underground Lisboa.
Village Underground Lisboa is the city’s newest creative workspace-meets-cultural venue, an open-air complex consisting of a Tetris-like stacking of 16 shipping containers transformed into office spaces and positioned in a massive open courtyard in the Lisbon Carris Museum. Having opened in May 2014, the space has recently become a hotspot for start-ups, designers and creative agencies aiming to achieve the delicate balance between private office space and a social environment, and is adjacent to the boutique and restaurant-laden LX Factory.
To get the skinny on the Village Underground Lisboa, we sat down with the space’s branding manager Daniel Kisluk and Joao Pedro Silva of Enchufada Records to discuss the inspiration behind the complex, its relationship with the local music scene and all the new and exciting projects on the horizon.
Given the trying economic situation in Portugal and Lisbon, how did the Village Underground Lisboa first come to open?
Daniel Kisluk: Village Underground Lisboa is an ambitious project established by the talented entrepreneur Mariana Duarte Silva in collaboration with Village Underground London. Given the economic situation in Portugal, now is a crucial time to establish a community of creative people working together and supporting each other in various business areas. While the country is looking forward to recovery, we see a trend in locals taking advantage of opportunities to initiate creative endeavors in Lisbon. Village Underground Lisboa is a place to be the glue for connecting the right people to the global community through art, music and culture.
The city’s music and cultural scenes are thriving right now, simply because artists are focusing on their craft.
The Village Underground Lisboa appears as a space organically built for creatives and artists. In what capacity does the space interact with the local music scene, and how does it relate to what’s happening in Lisbon today?
DK: Lisbon sits in the middle of the cultural music capitals of the world, with a multi-ethnic population bringing their musical influences from the studio to the streets—whether it's Angolan Kuduro and Zoukbass, psychedelic Latin-jazz fusion or minimal house and techno music. The city’s music and cultural scenes are thriving right now, simply because artists are focusing on their craft as opposed to looking for jobs, because there really aren’t any.
Any plans for a cross-collaboration between Village Underground Lisboa and Enchufada Records?
Joao Pedro Silva: Last month, we teamed up with Village Underground Lisboa for the Global Village, a weekly festival every Friday in July showcasing several artists from our roster, including DJ Marfox, Branko, Riot, Rastronaut and Kking Kong, and offering sunset performances free of charge—a perfect way to cap off the week.
How do you see Village Underground Lisboa developing over the next year, including exciting plans for expansion and new events?
DK: Considering we first unveiled the space only a couple months ago, there are several exciting plans and projects slated for this year and to be revealed over time. For now, we are continuing to invite young and creative people to join our project and take a part in the reviving of the underground creative community of Lisbon.
Images courtesy of Ross Belfer for Cool Hunting