Alvaro Picardo X Villa Bologna Pottery Collaboration

In light of our bespoke hand-painted lampshades collaboration with Alvaro Picardo, we spoke to Alvaro when he visited the Villa Bologna Pottery workshop in Malta about how he began painting lampshades and about his meticulous process.

How did you start painting lampshades?

Alvaro: It’s one of those very happy accidents. It was during the 2nd lockdown on a rainy Saturday evening in November. I was replacing another lampshade with a new one and I thought, instead of throwing it away, I’ll paint it. 

It was such a wonderful time that really opened a whole new life for me and that week, I painted every lampshade in our house. I got in touch with friends and some interior designers I knew and they all said go for it. So, I opened an Instagram account and it was one of those successful social media stories. 

I enjoy every second of it, I notice things I thought I would never see and I find inspiration everywhere — from the tube to walking on Bond Street, wonderful fabrics in shop windows to graffiti on the walls. I walk around London and take inspiration from 19th-century Victorian buildings or suddenly I see a lady wearing a dress with a fantastic pattern and I just have to take a photo of it. 

What is your usual process?

Alvaro: It’s a very long process. From the beginning when I think of a new design until it’s finally made — it may look very natural on the lampshade but there’s been a lot of thought into it. I always start by drawing on my iPad and from there I pass it on to a notebook before I start drawing on the lampshade. 

What many don’t realise is that when you move a design over onto a lampshade, it’s going from drawing in 2D to a completely new dimension. Most lampshades are conical and their angles totally vary. I have to try until I get the right proportions — sometimes this can take days and days. 

For me, it's like a form of meditation. Once I get into my painting mood, time flies. I don’t notice that suddenly a whole day has gone. The concentration it takes is so big so once I’ve painted one lampshade, I can’t paint another one on the same day. I need to go and take my dog for a walk or go see friends. 

Talk to us about the collaboration with Villa Bologna Pottery

handpainted lampshades

Alvaro:  It was just fantastic when Villa Bologna Pottery got in touch because it wasn't just like any other collaboration I've done in the past. In this case, it was about designing the collection and going to Malta and meeting their designers and their artists and passing all my knowledge as they are going to be the ones painting the collection.

The Folly design is the most creative of all the designs we're doing and the inspiration behind it is the leaves that sprout of a pineapple. When painting these leaves I suddenly think, why not add some light green here and later on I’ll do some dark around it? I let the pencil follow its natural flow. The wonderful thing about this design is there is no right or wrong because it will look nice in the end. For me, it's all about proportion and about feeling the space in a way that feels natural.

I really love what I do…I think it's fantastic and what's brilliant is to be able to share this with people and to pass this knowledge to others. I'm very happy that you are going to take on this. You'll probably become better than me in no time!

hand painted lamp shades


Discover the Alvaro Picardo X Villa Bologna Pottery hand-painted lampshades collaboration today.