During our recent road trip, Portugal Confidential had pleasure of staying at the super-cool Casa das Penhas Douradas hotel in the Serra da Estrela mountains. Sure, this boutique hotel was awesome, the restaurant delicious, and the views stunning. But something else about this place really intrigued us. It was the brightly-colored thick woolen fabric used on the furniture as upholstery, on the floor as rugs, on the table as placemats, and on the bed as blankets. As it turns out, this fabric is Burel, made in the factory just down the hill. This is the story…
Burel is a traditional wool product made for centuries by the residents of Serra da Estrela. Typically, the fabric is a bland natural beige or gray color, and not particularly soft against the skin. The fabric is made from a unique process of washing the wool, spinning the wool and weaving it into fabric. It then gets pounded and scalded with very hot water. The result is a thick, compact and resistant material. Burel is practical and durable, and keeps shepherds warm on cold mountain nights.
Yet, in modern times, the designer runways of Milan, Paris and Lisbon are not clamoring for shepherd cloth fashions. So, it’s no surprise that factories manufacturing this product have virtually become extinct.
But wait! The entrepreneurial owners of Casa das Penhas Douradas, Isabel Dias da Costa and João Tomás, have come up with a solution to preserve this traditional fabric: dye the fabric in bold colors, and add a heavy dose of innovative design. Voilá, the Burel Factory is reborn!
The new product line is a vibrant spectrum of 24 colors, from lilac and bordeaux to pumpkin and hot ash. Various types of stitching techniques create unique textures for modern lifestyles. Given its durability, the reinvented fabric is perfect for a multitude of products for the modern home.
Another innovative concept for this fabric is as a wall covering. Its texture adds a new dimension to walls, and the dense woolen fabric is durable and easy to clean. Color combinations and techniques can be customized to individual needs. In fact, Burel Factory recently installed wall coverings in the new Mircrosoft offices in Lisbon. (See a video of the entire Microsoft interior design project here.)
Other products being produced at the Burel Factory include computer folders, backpacks, necklaces, belts, toys, blankets and pillows. They are actively partnering with fashion designers, artists and stylists to create unique and original pieces.
You can find Burel products at the Loja das Penhas Douradas in the Chiado District of Lisbon, and of course, at the Casa das Penhas Douradas hotel. For more information, visit the Burel Factory website.
Loja das Penhas Douradas
Rua Nova do Almada, n.º 103