· Founder and CEO of Antarte · · T. Joana Rebelo · P. Rights Reserved

Mário Rocha

«At the cutting edge of home décor trends»

Villas&Golfe Adv. PUB HOMES IN HEAVEN Adv.
Vidago Villa Adv.
PMmedia Adv Adv.
25 years ago, Mário and Zita Rocha founded an organisation in Rebordosa. «Antarte» was the name they gave it, thanks to the fusion of the words «antiguidade» e «arte» («antique» and «art»). He was already familiar with the industry because of his father’s trade as a furniture factory bisiness man. She was the one with the decorative inclinations. The business began with the restoration and sale of classic furniture which, years later, evolved into the creation of home décor trends in Portugal. There are currently 14 outlets in Portugal and other shops in Angola, Ghana, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. As for the ambition to continue to expand internationally, there seems to be no doubt, after the brand has already proved its reputation with the creation of Pope Benedict XVI’s Resting Chair and the customised model for singer Anitta. Mário Rocha, Antarte’s CEO, says that today he feels like Sinatra sang: I did it my way. And he hopes to continue to do so.

How does Antarte combine aesthetics, functionality and sustainability in each model?
Combining these attributes in a piece of furniture is a real challenge that Antarte has been able to achieve with each collection. For the brand, it makes no sense to develop pieces with an exuberant aesthetic if they are not comfortable or functional. Coming up with a captivating design with the ability to provide comfort and ample storage is in the company’s DNA. I’ll give you an example: sitting in an Antarte armchair is a moment of absolute comfort in a piece with a refined design. Ant the use of sustainable raw materials is imperative for a brand that has made environmental responsibility one of the pillars of its mission.   

You often say that the brand is imbued with timelessness. What does timeless design mean to you?
Timeless design blends elegant lines with a touch of irreverence, without ever overlooking comfort and functionality. Over time, there have been several pieces of furniture that have become international icons, such as the Chesterfield sofa and the Barcelona chairs by Mies van der Rohe; and the Eames Lounge by Charles and Ray Eames. A significant number of these renowned models are sofas or chairs, so the reason for their nature seems obvious: they are pieces of furniture to be experienced. When a creative person manages to come up with a striking piece that, as well as catching the eye, offers a comfortable and ergonomic seat, they are fully fulfilling their function.
In this respect, Antarte upholds its DNA based on timeless design in every collection it creates. Instead of the exuberance of designs that become dated with the passage of time, they opt for an elegance that shapes the soul of the spaces in which they are placed.  

What is the identifying feature of Antarte that is common to each and every model?
There are several common features in Antarte’s pieces, starting with the proportions and very balanced lines, which convey feelings of visual comfort. There is also a palette of colours and materials that, in a way, identify the brand’s models, such as natural oak, walnut, palisander and cryptomeria from sustainable forests in the Azores. The quality of the assembly and finishes are other distinctive characteristics that the products convey.

Internationalisation is a given for the company, with its own stores in Angola, Ghana and Morocco. How does the business adjust to the different countries in which it operates?

The colonial past in African countries has led to a certain alignment with European standards in terms of tastes and preferences, which is why we haven’t felt the need to create specific product ranges. In the United Arab Emirates, on the other hand, where we’ve recently been focusing our efforts, it doesn’t work like that. Sofas, for example, have to be bigger and chairs and beds have to have certain characteristics.

«The use of sustainable raw materials is imperative»
Speaking of the Emirates, did you open your doors in Dubai because you believe that the future lies in the Middle Eastern market?
The brand has been present in some of Europe’s most dynamic cities since 2002, where modernity is combined with timeless design, which is in line with our philosophy. However, purchasing power has shifted geographically. Governments in the Middle East are the first to launch cutting-edge projects in all areas, and a brand with Antarte’s standing couldn’t hesitate in moving into a destination such as the Emirates - cosmopolitan, with purchasing power, sophisticated tastes and where trends are starting to be set.  

Does Antarte follow trends or does it create them?
Antarte has a huge advantage when it comes to spotting trends, since its network of physical stores throughout the country allows it to gauge the market. It is therefore able to understand, in real time, the desires and expectations of a range of customers with discerning tastes. As a significant player in the domestic market, we can say that the brand is at the cutting edge of home décor trends. 

What has been the most difficult decision you’ve had to make as the brand’s CEO?
I’ve had to make several difficult ones, in particular in 2011. I think that was the most complicated year for Antarte, when we had to cut costs and adopt a different management strategy. But the decision that hit me hardest was the closure of the store in Paris following the death of our local partner.    

You also designed Pope Benedict XVI’s resting chair, which travelled from the north of the country to the Vatican. How would you describe the feeling of being the CEO of Antarte?
The best description of this feeling can be found on the exterior of the Antarte Centre, with the name "Passion". It is a work of art in the form of a wooden heart, which symbolises the founding energy of the brand. I made it after Zita Rocha, co-founder of Antarte, was asked how she would summarise the brand in one word. The answer, «passion», without hesitation, led me to create another work of art that has already become «instagrammable», if you’ll pardon the neologism. When customers visit the Antarte Centre showroom, the brand’s new headquarters, they often take selfies next to this sculpture. There is only one way to perform the role of CEO of Antarte: by embracing every project, every challenge and, of course, operational management with passion. 

Do you consider yourself a visionary?
There’s a Portuguese proverb that says «no one is a good judge or a bad lawyer in their own defence», but if the definition of a visionary is someone who charts their own path, then I should consider myself one. The truth is that I come from a family with a history in the furniture industry, but at the age of 25 I decided to leave my comfort zone and create not just a company, but a 100% Portuguese furniture brand. It was challenging at such a young age and in a business context where creating national brands was too risky. I then chose to develop a large network of my own shops. I have embraced successive special projects which, without resulting in immediate turnover, have been developing a reputation and a premium brand image. We made the chair inspired by José Mourinho, the armchair for mister Fernando Santos, the customised armchair for singer Anitta, the Siza Vieira by Antarte art installation for the Vatican pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale, the decoration of the carriages of the Presidential Train... And so perhaps I can say today, as Sinatra masterfully sang, that: I did it my way.
Joana Rebelo
T. Joana Rebelo
P. Rights Reserved
Cookie Policy

This site uses cookies. When browsing the site, you are consenting its use. Learn more

I understood