Catching up with Svenja and Yoske - UTIL – Designer furniture

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September 2022

Catching up with Svenja and Yoske

For our first field trip out of Lisbon, we traveled to our beloved soulmate city Porto, to meet two of its most inspiring imports: Svenja Specht and Yoske Nishiumi.

Born and raised between Tokyo and Saitama, Yoske briefly indulged in the bohemian craze of Tokyo’s nightlife of the late eighties – early nineties, when the neo-liberal dream was at its peak! Yet, the yuppy ways were not to last as he promptly quit, flew to Bangkok, and began extensive backpacking in beautiful, pre-DiCaprio south-east Asia. While staying in Katmandu, he traded in traditional Nepalese garments, selling them back to Japan. Finally, meeting some Berlin artists at the beach in Thailand made him settle in Berlin. Here he began working with limited edition sneakers while blending in with the legendary local techno scene, himself hosting a monthly club event called Koiklub in different locations in town.

Svenja was born in Germany and lived in Beijing and Paris before starting her clothing label Reality Studio in Berlin, where the couple first met on the street. Svenja is a master at finding inspiration from reality and the daily life around her. She has taken that vision as the main drive behind her work. This particular awareness of the world was a factor in the couple’s move to Porto in 2014, having fallen in love with the city while visiting to find specialised suppliers for Reality Studio. They decided that moving their whole operation and life to Porto was the most sustainable, realist thing to do. After fifteen years of being internationally distributed, the brand took a step away from the traditional season’s schedule and began working in small editions, mainly from surplus materials.

Together, the couple opened the concept store Out To Lunch in Porto in 2015, followed by Lisbon in 2018, before closing in the dark days of 2020. Since then, the couple has turned to the wholesome. It started with a ramen and lunchbox delivery service during the first lockdown, followed by organising several Asian food festivals and pop-ups in 2021. Then, in June 2022, they opened an Izakaya, a Japanese Tapas bar, at Café Época, which now takes place regularly Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays. Since then, Out To Lunch Kitchen has become steady and the go-to place in Porto for a Kara-Age that rivals any famous Francesinha.

Out To Lunch Kitchen

Words and Pictures by Pedro Alfacinha

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