Regardless of their medium, artists share a need to create and a desire to intentionally and skillfully manipulate form and color in fashioning an object of beauty. Artistic minds also rarely limit themselves to one medium; different materials offer unique means of artistic expression, and while an artist may have a primary focus, the most inventive pursue multiple creative endeavors. Luiz Lavos is one such artist, and his hobbies and interests have influenced where he directs his creativity — from graphic design and music to woodworking and pipe making.
Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Luiz was introduced to woodworking at an early age. His grandfather had a substantial workshop where Luiz spent much of his childhood observing his grandfather work and trying his own hand at various elements of the craft. In the same way that Luiz cites his grandfather as an early inspiration for woodworking, Luiz's uncle deserves some credit for his nephew's interest in pipes. When Luiz first started smoking a pipe, it was his uncle — also an avid pipe hobbyist — who encouraged Luiz to translate his woodworking skills to briar and pipe making. So, after buying a simple pipe-making kit, Luiz's journey began.
His experience as a woodworker has typically followed his hobbies, enabling him to physically manifest and artistically realize his interests: As a bass guitar player, he was naturally drawn to the work of a luthier, and as a lover of classic video games, he enjoyed designing and building vintage-style arcade machines. It made sense, then, that when he began enjoying pipes and pipe tobacco, it would eventually lead to Luiz making pipes of his own. Unlike those other woodworking ventures, though, pipe making satisfied a deeper artistic impulse within Luiz, the blend of aesthetic beauty and functional practicality that so defines pipes offering the perfect balance of artistry and engineering for Luiz as both an artist and a craftsman.
Pipe making also combined Luiz's skills and experience as a woodworker with his career as a graphic designer. Such a trade has served Luiz well as a carver: Working from home affords him the flexibility and time to devote the attention required to craft pipes, and graphic design sharpens his understanding of line, form, proportion, balance, color, and other art principles that benefit his work as an artisan pipe maker.
In the early stages of his pipe-making career, after having moved to Portugal in 2017, Luiz took advantage of the vast internet pipe community, observing and analyzing the work of other artisan carvers online and corresponding with them for feedback and advice, and he connected with Portuguese carver Sabina Santos in person, visiting her workshop and receiving assistance on techniques and tooling. He also cites Premal Chheda as a helpful resource for trouble-shooting and mechanical questions, as well as Hans "Former" Nielsen who has spoken extensively with Luiz specifically about pipe finishing.
Luiz compares his own personal pipe design style to playing guitar: In the same way that each player's hands impart a specific tone and style to the music, even if the notes remain identical, an artisan pipe maker's hands shape briar in their own unique manner, regardless of how ubiquitous the pipe shape is. That said, Luiz's pipes generally cater to the Danish functionalist style, à la Tom Eltang, Former, and Jess Chonowitsch, prioritizing classic shapes in reserved, minimalist style and focusing on form and line work over ostentation and flashy adornments, and he mainly finishes his work smooth or rusticated, the latter rendered by a drill bit for a more intricate, low-profile texture. As a designer, Luiz prides himself on his attention to detail and skills for analysis and observation, and as a craftsman, his number one goal is to combine that design acumen with engineering that elevates a pipe's pragmatic function.
Luiz mostly carves classic pipe shapes, and he's enjoyed experimenting with traditional, but less common, pipe-chart standards — specifically, Chimney and Lumberman renditions — and all of his stems are handmade with integrated tenons from vulcanite rod. If he decides to accent a pipe, Luiz appreciates the natural and elegant aesthetic of Ivorite or horn, and he sources his briar from Mimmo Romeo in Italy or Makis Minetos in Greece, two of the world's most renowned briar cutters.
We're honored and excited to partner with Luiz and welcome his work to Smokingpipes. Look ahead to future Luiz Lavos pipes, and explore our current selection of his work on site now.
Tagged in: At Smokingpipes Former Luiz Lavos Mimmo Romeo Pipe Makers Pipe Making Tom Eltang