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Giovana Matsuda | Matsu Lamps

Brazil born and Portugal based, Giovana Matsuda is an architect paying homage to her Japanese heritage through the delicate art of origami. Introduced by Buddhist monks in the 6th century, Japanese were the first to discover the potential of paper as a medium for art through paper folding. A humble material that remembers each fold and crease, paper has served as the seed to sprout Giovana’s latest project, Matsu Lamps. 

The hand-made paper lamps draw similarities to Giovana’s first great love. “The first time I saw Sesc Pompeia by Lina Bo Bardi I cried a little bit.” Her architectural work best recognised through symmetry, confident lines and repetition, the defining nature of origami. Although, Giovana’s rigidly structured paper figures become softened when enclosing a source of light. With a welcoming disposition, her lamps have the ability to transform each room into a place of comfort.

Dressed in the 03 set in deep black and the classic set in mandarin check, Giovana invites us into her home and studio in sunny Oporto.

Location: a sunny Oporto / Portugal

Date: 08/03/22

Time: 08:40




Where are you from and where are you now?
I’m from Brazil, from a city called Campo Grande, it means big field and I think that’s exactly what it is, a huge field. It’s a beautiful place, the nature there is mesmerizing and has the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.


Can you tell us a little about your heritage?
My grandparents came to brazil running away from the war in japan, but they didn’t know each other, they married in Brazil in an arranged wedding.


Do you prefer mornings or evenings?
Mornings for sure. If I do all the things that I plan for mornings I know that my day will be good


Do you have any rituals you never fail to begin or end the day with?
My morning ritual is to do a list of things that I need to do during the day while drinking hot green tea. I’m trying to turn off my phone after 19h, and make this become a ritual too but sometimes I just can’t.




Can you describe where you live and the view from your bedroom?
I live in a white wall apartment with my husband, it’s my first house beside my parents’ house, it’s quite big for us two but I like it.
The first time that I came to Oporto I felt that the city was blue. blue skies, blue ocean, blue tiles and from the view of my bedroom I can see a lot of this blue and some city seagulls too.


You are an architect and maker of paper lamps. Did you always know this was what you wanted to pursue?
When I was a kid I did oil paint classes and then I thought this was something that I wanted to do, and since this my parents always encourage me to create things. I think that I’ve always wanted to go in the creative pathway thanks to them.


Where did your love for architecture begin?
When I started traveling by my own, I know it’s such a privilege to say that architect students should travel but it’s true. The first time I saw Sesc Pompeia by Lina Bobardi I cried a little bit, I get really emotional when I see great architecture and this still happens, but Lina Bo was my first love.


What lead you to creating Matsulamps?
Matsu started as a problem resolution for my apartment. I needed more diffuse lights, and I already had some origami skills. But it all started during the first lockdown when we had plenty of time at home.


What does a day in your studio look like at the moment?
I try to divide myself to work as an architect in the morning and in the afternoon I work for Matsu but it’s quite difficult to separate everything. The studio is quite messy, many types of paper all around, I think I became one of those people that keep a beautiful piece of paper just because.

Can you tell us a little about the significance of paper as a medium?
By doing many paper pleats I spend a lot of time just doing the same fold many times and I think I enter into a meditative mood, the sound of paper and the texture are really pleasant things. I like how some folds are hard to do at first but after you figure out it comes really easy. Paper is a super old material but when it comes to certain things people tend to think is fragile, I like this duality.


If you had a favourite building or piece of architecture, what would that be and why?
I have a thing with doorhandles, Pallasmaa said that they are like a handshake with the building and I think a lot about it.


Who, what and where do you turn to for inspiration?
Beautiful proportions and deep silence are really inspiring for me.


How would you describe your creative process?
Many days of trying, one good idea and many other days trying to make the good idea work.
I’m not an artist, I’m more an athlete hahaha I need to practice every day so I can count not only on my creative process but also on my routine.


Has there been a significant moment of your past that has informed where you are today?
I wish I could say yes, because I’m very steady and clear of my goals but not even in my dreams I could imagine living this life. And I’m very thankful for it.


Three words that describe you.
Resilient, calm and a bit exquisite. 

What is your approach to dressing each day and what is your go-to attire?

I’m very classic, I push myself to be more fashion but I do not like to buy clothes so I keep the same black trousers and white shirt look. I have a thing for purses and shoes; if I could I would walk naked only with heels and a bag.


Words you live by.
In brazil there is a popular saying that is something like “the day you plant the seed is not the day that you’ll get the fruit” and I totally agree.


How do you find comfort?
In cups of hot tea and in long showers.


When do you feel most yourself?
After an intense workout in the end of the day.


Where do you spend your down time, and what do you do there?
Anywhere sunny with waterfalls or a river.


What brings you joy?
Cooking dinner when my house is clean and tidy.


How do you stay grounded?
Journaling makes me grounded and grateful.


Before you go to bed, how do you unwind?
Recently it’s been a couple of Seinfeld episodes on the couch.


What do you dream of while you sleep?
With places that I’ve never been, I mean, places that I’ve only been in dreams.







Interviewed by Montana Purchase for Deiji Studio’s Field Notes



See more of Giovana's work here.

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