Q&A with Ikena Carreira

Ikena Carreira set up e-commerce site STANDSEVEN in 2014. STANDSEVEN not only looks good, but does good. Carreira works with such talented artists and designers as David Adjaye and Ross Lovegrove who craft artful accessories for the body and home. Sales directly benefit the makers of these items, whether it's a community of basket weavers in Senegal, jewelers in Nairobi or candle makers in Rwanda. STANDSEVEN also supports several NGO's.

Based in London, Carreira is the daughter of Elena and Iko Carreira. Her late father fought for Angola's independence from Portuguese colonial rule in the 1970s and served as Angola's first defense minister from 1975-1980. Indagare contributor Elena Bowes spoke to Carreira at the Groucho Club in London.

Tell us about Stand Seven and what sets it apart from other on-line luxury retailers. STANDSEVEN is a collection of high-end goods that supports livelihoods, and works with renowned artists to create products that connect you to the welfare of their makers.

We believe people want a more beautiful world and that they want real value in their purchases. This can involve customization, limited editions and unique touches, but also includes adding a human element to each piece. Every product at STANDSEVEN has a story that enhances it’s beauty by giving greater insight into the work that went into crafting it.

What happened in Mozambique that inspired you to launch Stand Seven?

I worked in TV in Spain and ended up doing a documentary series about people who had an idea to make the world better and how they enacted it. As the Executive Producer, I got to choose the stories. We visited a small town in Mozambique called M’beda, where a South African architect was teaching the local population how to reuse wood. In the process he had all these extra scraps, and he was teaching the local artisans how to make bowls and bracelets with them. When we arrived, we discovered he was selling the bracelets to Gucci.

Being from Angola, I’m always asking myself what I can do to help my home community. I grew up thinking you had to have a United Nations resolution and infrastructure to make a difference and break the poverty cycle. But when I saw how high-end pieces were coming from this small rural community, I realized that something seemingly small could have an immediate—and lasting—impact. Through their craftsmanship, the artisans were funding the local children’s’ schooling. So while I cannot make world-class jewelry or fashions, I can tell the story and I can provide a market for the products.

With which projects are you most personally involved? Can you tell us about your two most exciting collaborations?

We have an amazing porcelain piece designed by Ross Lovegrove that is being made by Portuguese manufacturer Vista Alegre. It will be sold with candles by a group of artisan women in Rwanda. I love porcelain centerpieces, and this one really changes the space around it.

How did you end up working with leading architect and designer David Adjaye? And how did the decision to produce the cool Stool 7 come about? When STANDSEVEN was just an idea, I began speaking to different people in the industry about it, and David had the magnanimity of offering me a free workspace in his stunning London office. Almost two years later, STANDSEVEN launched from that same office. I wanted to honor this enormous contribution by introducing the site with one of his designs. He he is one of the premier architects of his generation, and I am adamant that we collaborate with people who uphold the highest standards of integrity not only in their work, but in their personal lives. David exemplifies all of this. Once we began talking, it only made sense that the collaboration feed back into a project in Africa.

Stool 7 is made in an award-winning Portuguese factory called LarusDesign. The green workshop uses only sustainable materials. Part of Larus' mission is to show how design is an integral part of creating public spaces that are good for people and their environments. The Stool 7 is made in Zinc-plated recyclable steel.

Can you tell us about your international collaboration with 175 year-old Portuguese porcelain maker Vista Allegre, industrial designer Ross Lovegrove and candle makers in Rwanda? Can you also tell us about the trip you have planned for Portugal this summer?

We are taking a small group of clients on a trip to Porto, Portugal. They will be able to visit the Vista Alegre factory, where they will learn and observe some of the production process and commission their own piece.

A visit to the Vista Alegre factory is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. There are not many places left in Europe that have kept traditions in exquisite craftsmanship for centuries. Plus, Portugal is a beautiful place to discover; it is not the obvious destination in Europe, but by far one of the best.

You have lived in 12 countries in your life. Can you tell us a bit about your favorites and why? Did any surprise you by their beauty? London has been my favorite city to live in so far. It has an incredible multicultural energy that I have never found anywhere else. Crossing the bridge in Hyde Park that looks out over the water to the Serpentine Gallery; dancing on a Wednesday evening at The Groucho Club; and going on Monday evening to hear lectures at Royal Geographic Society are some of my favorite pastimes.

Rome also has a very special place in my heart. There is something about the stunning city—the way the sunlight hits the terracotta buildings and even the simplest foods are exploding with flavor—that will always resonate with me. Plus, Italian is my favorite language—there’s nothing like hearing “che bella che sei” to lift one’s spirits. Every wish I made at the Trevi Fountain came true, but I hear you are not allowed to throw coins in it anymore. I am sure there are other ways to make wishes come true. In Italy, anything is possible.

My favorite places that I have not lived in for long, but completely surprised me, are Windhoek, Namibia and Los Angeles. I thought I was going to dislike LA, but I found lovely people and, surrounded by orange trees and blue skies, that California feeling that everything is possible. Some of my favorite local spots were the Gratitude Café and Joshua Tree, and some of my favorite artists are from, or live in, California (James Turell, Bill Viola).

Namibia is just incredible. The Skeleton Coast is a desert that ends in the ocean, where there are ships that sunk a century ago, but you can see them there in the middle of desert since the water line has receded. Namibians really care about nature, and it is beautiful to spend time there.

What are your favorite places to travel and why?

Since I started my own business I only really travel for work. I really loved Tel Aviv and Sri Lanka. Galle in southwestern Sri Lanka has some of the most beautiful—and completely empty—beaches I’ve ever seen. There is an amazing hotel called The Fortress (, which is what I imagine heaven to look like.

My next trip will be to Senegal because we are working on some baskets there with a very special artist. I can’t wait.

Any favorite dishes you like to eat when you’re on the road? I like rice. You can find it nearly everywhere in the world, and it can be implemented in in so many different ways. I like it sweet with a banana, savory with tofu, curry or spinach and indulgent as a risotto.

What do you always pack? I have a cabin-size Tumi suitcase that is always packed. It can cover about a week and a half. It always includes running sneakers, workout outfits, swimsuits, t-shirts, black pumps, a cashmere sweater, black dress, black and khaki blazers and jeans. With these staples, I am prepared for any occasion, from walking the Congo Forest to a night out in Paris. And then, of course, I have travel-size versions of all the cosmetics and anibiotics I may need on the road.

Then, depending on where I am going, I add a couple of things I consider appropriate or fun. It’s tight, but the wonders of geometry are always working in my favor!

Visit STANDSEVEN's website and shop online.

Published onJune 17, 2015

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