Paulo Fino: web designer

20 Aug

Everyone on Islington Faces Blog has a story.  What is it about Islington that can make it feel like home? Website designer Paulo Fino, who grew up in Russia and has family in Portugal, talks about what he loves about the area.  Interview by Nicola Baird

Web designer Paulo Fino: “Here in London I feel at home”. His business aims to build websites that “offer locals something better than what they have, and cheaper. A website is more than an electronic brochure on line. It's a multi-purpose tool.”

Web designer Paulo Fino: “Here in London I feel at home”. His business aims to build websites that “offer locals something better than what they have, and cheaper. A website is more than an electronic brochure on line. It’s a multi-purpose tool.”

Paulo Fino was born and brought up in Moscow but throughout his school days spent the three month summer holiday in Portugal with his father’s family. “I was always a stranger in Moscow or Portugal,” admits Paulo – and that’s despite having family in both places and being fluent in both languages.

Paulo’s a gifted linguist – he learnt Spanish by reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, studied French at Moscow State University of International Affairs and reckons he absorbed English as a kid from watching recorded TV shows sent to him by his Portuguese family. The Fast Show with its catch phrase of “Scorchio” was a favourite, but ironically Paulo never wanted to go to London.

That didn’t change even when the BBC World Service gave him a job – until he was sent to London in 2002. “I had a prejudiced view and thought there was nothing appealing in the UK, but then I arrived and totally fell in love with London.”

After five years away Paulo and wife Elena Webb left Moscow to move back to London with their pet hooded crow which lives in an aviary in their garden.

“Here in London I feel at home.,” says Paulo. “We wanted to go to Islington because we thought it was the best area for balance – it’s a calm, homely setting. You’re in the biggest city in the world and yet you can live like you are in a village. You can even have a house with a glass front door! That’s impossible in Russia, someone would break it.”

It’s clear that Elena and Paulo, now 38, enjoy London’s opportunities and the way it allows them to watch people adapting to situations. “The new generation, 30 and below, think that if something isn’t on line it doesn’t exist,” says Paulo “and that’s going to be more and more so, the paradigm is shifting away from passers by popping in to your shop.  But I find local businesses are all so weary of their previous experiences with a website that cost them a lot and didn’t give them what they wanted.”

The business is still young – Paulo talks about the process of finding a strong name. “Paulo means small in Latin and Fino means thin, refined, but I wanted more of a dragon name,” he explains. Turns out he has a “sorcerer friend who suggested that a good name for a communicator” – which as Paulo also translates and has worked for the likes of the BBC covers the brief – “had to begin and end with the same letter and be something you can read back to front.” The result is the excellent palindrome, draggard.com

“I think more and more that work is done by collaboration,” says Paulo pointing out how Streetlife is a really good resource. “People don’t communicate in big cities but this brings them together. They may have a chat about something important to them and then find out that they live next door. Thanks to Streetlife I’ve been an extra in a film, found a Tango class and fixed a computer for an elderly gentleman. I’m a fan of Freecycle too.”

With his gift for languages and confidence that he’s in the right borough it looks as if people in Islington – especially Finsbury Park locals – will be the first ones to enjoy Paulo’s practical mix of techy and communication skills. Do give him a call to find out if he can help meet your website needs.

When Elena and Paulo decided to move back to London it was Islington they wanted to live in. Here they are outside Vagabond – a favourite for “morning and evening coffee”.

When Elena and Paulo decided to move back to London it was Islington they wanted to live in. Here they are outside Vagabond – a favourite for “morning and evening coffee”.

Things Paulo Fino enjoys in Islington

  • “What I like most about London, and Islington in particular, is you can walk out of the door in pyjamas and slippers to buy milk and still be in the capital of the world. It’s as if the street is an extension of the home outside the big touristy areas. People who live here in Islington treat it like it’s their sitting room. That combination of London as an extension of your home and a Babylon mixing of people touches something in me.”
  • “Douglas Adams (author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) that’s quite a reputation!”
  • I enjoy breakfast and evening coffee at Vagabond.
  • I love the way Gillespie Park is natural and wild. And it’s so nice to walk on Parkland Walk. I like walking and sitting by the canals in Islington too. It’s better than being by the River Thames because they are smaller.
  • I go to the Nags Head Market – it’s the closest one and there’s a weekend market/carboot sale where we buy presents for our friends from the 1960s glassware stall. In Russia people don’t celebrate Christmas with presents, that’s for New Year, so when the locals throw out their Christmas trees we Russians go and pick them up  because that’s when we need them. It’s proper recycling! Grafton School Market runs Saturday 8.30am-4pm, Sunday 10am-2pm

Vagabond on the corner of Stroud Green and Tollington Park offers Elena and Paulo a homely vibe. But it’s very cool too – this is manager Artem popping out to chat to a customer’s dog.

Vagabond on the corner of Stroud Green and Tollington Park offers Elena and Paulo a homely vibe. But it’s very cool too – this is manager Artem popping out to chat to a customer’s dog.

“I think more and more that work is done by collaboration,” says Paulo pointing out how Streetlife is a really good resource. “People don’t communicate in big cities but this brings them together. They may have a chat about something important to them and then find out that they live next door. Thanks to Streetlife I’ve been an extra in a film, found a Tango class and fixed a computer for an elderly gentleman. I’m a fan of Freecycle too.”

With his gift for languages, and confidence that he’s in the right borough, it looks as if people in Islington – especially Finsbury Park locals – will the first ones to enjoy Paulo’s practical mix of techy and communication skills. Do give him a call to find out if he can help meet your website needs.

  • See draggard.com for website design. You can also contact Paulo Fino at hello@draggard.com

Over to you
Would you like to nominate someone to be interviewed? Or would you like to write a guest post for this blog? if the answer is yes for either please email nicolabaird.green@gmail.com

If you’d like to feature on this blog, or make a suggestion about anyone who grew up, lives or works in Islington please let me know, via nicolabaird.green@gmail.com. Thank you. 

If you liked this interview please SHARE on twitter or Facebook. Even better follow islingtonfacesblog.com (see menu top right), @nicolabairduk

This blog is inspired by Spitalfields Life written by the Gentle Author.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search by interviewee’s roles or jobs to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola

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