Lines Lab is a design collective based in Macau. Innovating fashion, products, furniture and exhibitions, Lines Lab represents a burgeoning creative sector often overshadowed by the city’s gambling scene. But rest assured, you will hear more about them.
Founders Clara Brito and Manuel CS arrived from their native Portugal in 2006. With its Portuguese heritage, one-hour ferry to Hong Kong, and easy access to mainland textiles and manufacturing plants, Macau seemed like the perfect place to establish their biz. “China is evolving so quickly and creatively,” Brito gushed to me at her studio. “To witness that and be a part of it is really inspiring.” The clothing and accessories fuse her Portuguese roots with her present Chinese influences. Lines Lab has already been picked up by several international stockists and they’ve also been embraced in Macau, outfitting the Conservatório de Macau band with costumes and The Venetian’s Cirque du Soleil troupe with premiere ensembles.
The company has created a host of cool design products – from mutable outdoor benches to shadow-cast lighting – but I’m partial to the fashy stuff! The conceptual starting point for Brito’s Lines Lab fashion is her LineLess Collection. It began with only vests but includes dresses, jackets and assorted separates now, too. The sculpted thick texture achieves a 3D effect when worn. There are no buttons. Clasp it, instead, with one of Lines Lab’s funky clips. Since my love affair began with Lanvin several years ago, I’ve come to appreciate volume, draping, intellectual silhouettes, essentially. Lines Lab subscribes to this design philosophy – it’s got an artistic look that women don for themselves, one that’s not dictated by overt sex appeal. I also dig how the clothes can be dressed up or down – just check how amazing Marisa Yiu looked in a LineLess vest at the Bring Your Own Biennale Opening in Hong Kong (see left).
During my afternoon at the Lines Lab studio, Brito showed me her assorted accessories – some for sale and some still in the pipeline. Traditional unfinished Chinese silk is her latest obsession, and she’s been working with the trade commission so that Lines Lab’s fabrics (selected after months of research at various silkmills around mainland China) will be recognized and marked as heritage Chinese products. Loved the scarves, loved the “Be Lucky!” tee shirt collection (a sartorial nod to the fortunes made and lost in Macau), but I really fell for the Min. That would be Brito’s multi-functional necklace/hairband/bracelet accessory. A cheeky homage to the Chinese min noodle, the Min is packaged with oversize chop sticks and a takeaway bag. It’s a fun, quirky touch and a just another example of Lines Lab’s thoughtful approach to design, fashion and cultural influence.