We always have choices in life and that goes not only for our own career path and special interests but, as a consumer, for the products we find desirable. Meet one woman who has made her choice and delivers something sensational every time

From dance performer to making the most perfectly hand stiched belt, purse or weekend bag, Rosa Diniz found the best way to express her artistic spirit. Her atelier in Lisbon is testament to her talent and belief in the value of originality.

In the 19th century, the Arts & Crafts movement was born from a reaction to the industrialization of decoration and fine arts that took place during the victorian era. The word ‘craft’ has since then been associated with pure manual work, as opposed to massification and factory labour.

Rosa Diniz is taking the expression to another level, proving that art has many ways of manifestating itself. For her, craftsmanship is art, and that is why she describes herself as an artist and not an ‘artesã’ (craftswoman).

And that is because all her life and work was and is about art. After graduating as Managing Producer from the National Theatre and Film School in Lisbon, she had several jobs related to culture and education. But, besides that, she also studied dance at the Portuguese National Conservatory and her occupation was that of dancer for a long time.

But, along with the performative arts, Rosa always had an interest in the so-called Applied Arts, especially in the famous Arraiolos tapestry. Jewellery design and making was one of the other specialist areas that Rosa studied at the Escola Artística António Arroio.

A new chapter
The intimate relation with all forms of art is obvious in her professional timeline; the big question is what made her change from a career in dancing to the leather handcrafting that she is now famed for.

First of all, you cannot dance professionally forever. But besides that, I always felt that I was not getting the satisfaction of achieving what I wanted by performing on stage,” she says. Add to that the fact that working in the arts does not pay well in Portugal, and a few years ago, in her forties, Rosa took the decision to change her way of life and move into a very different arena. She wanted to do something with her hands… a line of work where she could be creative and be her own boss in a field that was lucrative at the same time.

She opened her first atelier in 2017 and the one where she is now – in Rua dos Poiais de São Bento, nº 44, Lisbon – in 2020.

The confinement imposed by the COVID19 pandemic gave her the isolation she needed to learn – test, try, repeat – in her own time until she perfected the way she works the leather and stitches, all pieces by hand.

Entering Rosa Diniz Atelier is having the chance of being face to face not only with some of her finished pieces but also to her work bench and display of materials and tools. All the leather used is Portuguese, it comes from Alcanena (near Santarém) and everything is made – entirely by hand – by Rosa herself.

She works alone so she can guarantee the high quality she aims to deliver.

Every single item is made to order – many only starting to take form after Rosa has had lengthy conversations with the client concerned, so that she can fully understand their lifestyle, personal taste and needs.

Her portfolio includes handbags and weekenders, keyrings and coasters, leathered-bound notebooks and diaries and wallets, each with a unique design twist.

The best of everything
Athough she totally respects what the client wants, Rosa always tries to make them choose what feels best and looks better. As the highly personalised work that it is, every piece is an exclusive one. Even if you ask for a black weekender bag, the leather is never the same or the way Rosa stitches it together. And that’s one of the reasons why so many people choose this kind of piece instead of buying classic luxury leather goods brands, like Louis Vuitton or Hermès.

What I do is not cheap”, says Rosa, “The difference between buying one of my bags or one from a well-known label is the certainty that I am not selling logos and that no one in the world will have a similar piece”.

Exclusivity, artistry, craftsmanship. All that is yours. Either you buy a small coin purse or a large briefcase. Rosa Diniz does not care about fashion trends, that is not what she does. She cares about making objects that can last you a lifetime. And that is, for sure, sustainability at its best. She is also not interested in growing her business and loosing her core values. Her clients (from all parts of the planet) not only get that, but they actively choose that, over status and ostentation

Words: Sandra Gato

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