Zoe Melo has worn many hats in her life: she’s been an international model; she has worked as a product developer; she’s a mother; she’s Brazilian but has also lived in New York, Portugal and now Los Angeles. A few years ago, she brought the various aspects of her life together in her design consultancy firm, zoemelo.com, which she founded with her partner Peter Scherrer, a graphic designer, out of their home in Culver City. The two then launched a product design firm and showroom called TOUCH that collaborates with emerging international designers and artisans and is specifically focused on social and sustainable design. Most TOUCH products are handmade or made in limited editions; in this design studio relationships and quality of life come first. The studio provides a structure for TOUCH designers, helping give them a global reach as well as educating the world that good design and sustainability go hand in hand.
We began TOUCH from our home, but after a year or so, the business grew and the space felt too small. We found our new studio, this terrific open ceiling space with room for our studio and a showroom for the amazing products we feature.
My desk there is usually full of objects, prototypes, samples, new materials, a travel journal and catalogs. I like to have objects around me, they are my inspiration and I constantly change them. I call it a curator’s mind revealed.
Right now I am setting up our new studio in Brazil. It is a fantastic experience opening a new market and developing new projects and products with communities. I have reached my dream by combining travel and work, and have this mobility of using technology to coordinate various projects in different places at the same time. This is very satisfying work for me; to learn a lot about different cultures and places, while helping people to have a better living condition.
I now travel to many countries to develop products in artisan communities and to organize exhibitions during design fairs and events. Since I am on the road for work constantly, I can say that my “office” goes with me wherever I am working. So I work from hotel rooms, airplanes, friends’ houses, cafes. In fact, after we created our office in a cloud, things became much simpler. Truthfully, wherever I am connected to the internet feels like an office.
An ideal work/live space for me is the combination of having a studio, showroom, home and nature. It is a place that feels like I can produce much more without much of the stress of the big cities.
But when I am on the road, a library at a hotel is my favorite. The Unique hotel in Sao Paulo, Brazil is a very inspiring social space; the bookshelf, the Campana Brothers beautiful pouf, and the Gaetano Pesce chairs make it a perfect place for a design talk.
Maybe the best of all worlds would be a mobile office space, where I could travel around showing our projects and exhibiting our products and living deeply within the talents of the world’s creative peoples.