In Conversation With MH Studios Founder & Creative Director
Rio de Janeiro-born Maria Helena Pessôa de Queiroz, founder & creative director of MH Studios, talks the intersection of sustainability and art, the creative process behind her iconic photo albums and the journey to MH Studios.
What did the journey to MH Studios look like?
MH Studios emerged from my deep appreciation for the emotional value of memories and the need to preserve them. We believe a photo album is a loving way of honouring, the heart of ritual that values meaningful experiences — a true gift passed on through generations, keeping a family’s most formative stories intact and alive. That meaning is represented, further, in the loving work of our artisans on every album, following the centuries-old traditions and artistry of bookbinding and embroidery.
"Each MH Studios object is an artistic work shaped by in-depth research and a rich combination of aesthetic and emotional values."
What inspires your design aesthetic?
This question is super tricky, difficult to answer because I am impacted and inspired by the most diverse things and something I see can inspire me in a completely different direction from the reference itself. Every so often I find myself traveling in another dimension by the things I see or feel on earth.
Can you talk us through the process of an MH Studios album from concept and design to final product?
It’s a bespoke and curated experience unique to each consumer. Once the idea is approved, we start production, which is entirely handmade. We work with at least 30 artisans, more than 90% of whom are women. Most of the time, between creation, design, bookbinding, embroidery, one single special order can demand more than 5 different artisans, it is indeed a very intricate work and the result is a combination of my way of interpreting stories with our artisans talent to give life to it.
Ethics and sustainability are a big part of MH Studios. How does this factor into your pieces and processes?
Our goal is to create items that are durable, timeless and collectible, designed to be passed down from generation to generation. Being a brand that sells stationary products, we are well aware of the impact they can cause in the environment. Because almost every product is made on demand, we never overproduce and the team has been working hard to introduce more responsible materials into our collections. The paper we use while producing our albums are FSC certified.
When you’re dealing with bespoke orders, I’m sure you get some interesting requests. Could spill on some of your most memorable commissions?
For sure! I've heard the most fascinating stories and it's really exciting to know that they'll never stop coming, which gets my creativity going miles per minute. We’ve had the opportunity to tell stories to world tycoons of the fashion industry, to international actresses and members of Arab and English royalty. The office came to a halt when we were contacted to make the birthday album for what is consider one of the most influential and inspiring women of our generation. The request was for an album for her and for the guests of this celebration.