Brazilian designers Leo Porto and Felipe Rocha are longtime collaborators in both work and life, but it’s taken until 2020 for them to merge their practices as PORTO ROCHA officially. They’d worked together since 2016, which Rocha tells us “started casually when I was approached to work on a freelance project and asked Leo to help me out.” He adds that they “noticed from this first work experience that it was possible to be in a relationship and work together without losing our minds.”
From then on, they only took on projects as a duo, working around their respective day jobs at COLLINS and Spotify. “Eventually it got to a point where the projects were getting bigger and more complex, so we had to start turning them down. That’s when we realised the timing was right. It was the combination of both demand and our desire to start our own venture independently that made us confident to take the next step and open our studio”, explains Rocha.
“That’s when we realised the timing was right.”
The studio, which is based in Brooklyn, New York, builds on Porto and Rocha’s status as immigrants with the founding idea that global perspectives are vital to developing relevant brands. They strive to create work that inspires and provokes meaningful changes, whether it be through large-scale projects that reach significant audiences or through culturally-motivated initiatives.
COVID-19 struck the world not long after the duo left their full-time roles, stating that they “could have never imagined going through a pandemic in our first year as entrepreneurs.” They began working remotely as a team of six in early March, adding that the experience was “surprisingly productive”. As well as leaving their physical space behind, the most noticeable impact on the studio was budget cuts and a shift to digitally-focused briefs. They hope that “design can play an important role in helping us adjust to these new realities and contexts”.
“Design can play an important role in helping us adjust to these new realities and contexts.”
PORTO ROCHA’s new website showcases their output for a wide variety of clients, including a dynamic digital identity for a Nike editorial series, the rebrand of iconic Brazilian modernist Museu Nacional, and the design of the much-loved queer culture publication Samba. The website itself takes inspiration from the now ubiquitous iOS interface, resulting in a timely take on digital connectivity as Porto and Rocha navigate launching and managing the studio remotely.