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Vanessa Barragão’s rugs depict diverse underwater ecosystems
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Vanessa Barragão ’s rugs depict diverse underwater ecosystems using recycled yarns and creating intricate tapestries of ecosystems by hand.

Studio Vanessa Barragão is a design studio focusing on the artisanal techniques and wasted yarns from the industry to produce textiles and products for interiors.

Growing up in the seaside, her connection to the ocean is the inspiration for her artworks. Vanessa Barragão’s work is characterized by her captivating environments of coral reefs, cleverly combining craft and recycled materials into unique and luxurious sculptural carpets and tapestries for floors and walls.

Vanessa was born in Albufeira, in the south of Portugal. Her studio was founded in 2014 when she attended a Master degree at the Lisbon University in fashion and textiles design. There she developed her first wool yarn collection and tapestries through an ecological artisanal process. 

Barragão uses a variety of techniques including hand tufting, crocheting, embroidery, knitting and weaving, to create textured rugs, carpets, and wall hangings made predominantly from from wool that would otherwise have been disposed of. Her tapestries resemble the multifaceted layers and tactile structures of coral reefs: imitating fungi, algae, fringing reefs and marine crustaceans.


Barragão works with both the familiar ocean color palette of blue and teal hues, and earthy, muted colors to portray the dying reefs. Reef ecosystems are susceptible to coral bleaching due to rising water temperatures—an issue caused by global warming due to climate change. “The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world”, explains Barragão.

“In almost every process chemicals are used… It is extremely harmful for our world and it affects different natural environments; particularly the ocean which absorbs 90% of the atmosphere’s pollution.” By upcycling the materials for her tapestries, Barragão aims to bring awareness to this predicament.


The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world. In almost everything process chemicals are used, specially when it comes to the fibers treatment and dyeing. All the machinery used requires tons of energy while producing a lot of waste and disposable trash. It is extremely harmful for our world and it affects all of its different natural environments, particularly the ocean which absorbs 90% of the atmosphere pollution, warming up itself to the point that so many species get threatened, being the corals, who sustain so many other creatures, one of the most endangered ones.

Vanessa believes in an upcycling effort towards the right way to try to fight against this kind of negative mindset described above. All the materials used come from the deadstock of several local factories which is first cleaned and then selected to recycle and reuse in her projects. Her production is completely artisanal and handmade by using ancestral techniques, like latch hook, felt, knitting, macrame and crochet, to create her artworks.

Currently, she is based in Porto, the Northern region of Portugal where the nation’s textile industry core is located, and divides her time between collaborating as a textile designer for an artisanal rugs factory and running her studio.



All images © Vanessa Barragão
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