Telling the story of a different Portugal.
This was the spirit that, in June of 2013, created the Laboratório d’Estórias (The Story Lab): an experimental design space that takes inspiration from stories of Portuguese popular culture to reinvent traditional objects, using them to tell new stories and to recreate the country’s history.
THE MEDUSA AND THE BASIL
Once, long ago, in ancient Rome, a young man named Perseus had the poor fortune to fall in love with the wrong woman.
What was wrong was that she had serpents instead of snail-shaped curls in her hair, and her face was so frightening she could change any heart to stone. But not his.
On a certain day in June, taking advantage of the joy of the Sanjoaninas festival, he built up his courage to meet her, but, afraid of being turned to stone, decided to disguise himself with basil.
“Who is that?” asked Medusa, staring at the false basil. “It’s I, my darling,” answered Perseus, “I’ve brought you a vase with Erva dos Namorados and some verses by Fernando Pessoa, since I know he is your favorite poet” (Erva dos Namorados -Herb of Lovers was the name given to basil in Ancient Rome).
“Where are you?” shouted Medusa; “Show yourself, I can’t see you.” “I’m here, my love, in the basil,” cried Perseus, full of fear, and with good reason.
Even before he finished his sentence, zap!; Medusa transformed the basil to stone just by looking at it, with that look women use when we forget their birthdays.
But the love of Perseus was so great, so strong and so burning, that it acted as a counter-spell: only the outside part of the basil was petrified. Inside the vase, there was still room to breathe; and the soil and seeds remained.
“What a wonderful idea,” he thought, admiring his good fortune, “now, I can plant my basil as a symbol of my love, and when it dies, I’ll have this stone to help me remember the beauty of the one I planted.” Taking courage, he escaped the petrified basil-flower and stealthily approached Medusa closely enough to steal a kiss.
Surprised, Medusa ended up losing her head – with love, of course! – and become a beautiful lady.
That is what happened, and they lived happily ever after.
The basil became their wedding bouquet; a reminder to everyone that even under a layer of stone, a green love may flourish.