This article was published on Lisbon by Time Out newspaper, December 2022 edition.
There’s no way to miss the new Mouraria florist. Some passers-by stop, others take their time trying to figure out what is going on there. It’s like Ali Baba’s grotto, but instead of gold, its riches are flowers and plants. Filipe Viegas is the owner and left the performing arts to apply his creativity elsewhere: into floral compositions. “I’ve always liked buying flowers to have at home, but that was about it. With the pandemic, I wanted to make a change in my life and so went to take a class at a florist here in Lisbon”, he tells Time Out.
The uncertainty of the artistic milieu, which at one time led him to move to Rome, drove him to discover a new passion on Portuguese soil: flowers. Having learned the basics at a Lisbon florist, he then flew to New York for six weeks to make his debut in the world of flower design. On the way back, having his own space was of utmost urgency. And so it’s here, on the ground floor of a family building, where the grandfather kept furniture from old drugstores, that Mille Fleurs was born.
Some of that furniture remained. The walls and ceiling were left raw and one of the floor holes was turned into an improv flower bed. This is how Filipe idealised his flower atelier – a post-apocalyptic setting, where nature invades architecture, claiming a space that is rightfully its own.
Light diminishes as we move through the space – there are even ultraviolet light bulbs that turn on when the sun’s light becomes insufficient. Between roses, orchids, gypsophila, potted plants and the first Christmas pine trees, Filipe creates to meet orders. It’s been a week since it has opened doors and the neighbourhood is now discovering its latest business. For many of the new neighbours, foreigners who moved to Lisbon, buying fresh flowers to have at home is part of their routine and the convenience of having a florist nearby is already noticeable.
Sustainability, “as far as it can go”, is taken seriously. Instead of the traditional (and polluting) support foam, Filipe uses a biodegradable alternative, made from a volcanic origin material. In short, all tools are welcome as long as they don’t get in the way of creativity.
At the back of the store, we find a selection of Portuguese ceramics. There are pieces by Vicara and the Tasco project, cups by Maria Caetano, a ceramist with a workshop not far from here, original creations by Heir Ceramics and even marble pieces by Alexandra Ferreira. A way to catch the eye of tourists passing by and a showcase that only tends to grow, as Filipe discovers new artists.
Rua dos Lagares, 10 (Mouraria). 913 185 646. Mon 1pm-7pm, Tue-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-3pm