In a small city in the district of Porto, Rebordosa, two men began the adventure of a lifetime: making chairs and changing the history of their families. Neighbours and competitors, Abel Leite and Elias Dias had a small workshop on the ground floor of their houses where they dedicated themselves to the art of making chairs almost completely by hand. The models that came out of their hands were rich in carvings and curves, and in those days, only affordable accessible to the upper-class population of larger cities, like Lisbon and Porto. At that time, the oxcart was the main means of transport in rural areas but it was not, however affordable to all. The chairs were carried by women called “carreteiras” who transported them on their heads to the “despachante”, another professional whose job consisted in dispatching the goods to the clients. The lives of these two men crossed paths due to the love of their respective children, Mário Leite and Rosa Dias, who married in 1959.
After years of hard work and dedication to his craft, Mário Leite, the current owner’s father, decided to improve the facilities to increase production.
In 1992, Mário Leite (the father) created the Fenabel brand to internationalize the business and initiated trade relations with Spain. The name of the hitherto Mário Leite, Lda, was changed to Fenabel, Lda, a combination of his sons’ names, Fernando and Abel (Mário Abel, the current owner). In 1993, after many years of love for his work, Mário Leite (the father) succumbed to a heart attack, and Fenabel was transferred into the hands of his children.
A new cycle began with further improvements to facilities and equipment, and Fenabel added to its business name a definition for its raison d’être: Fenabel – The Heart of Seating. The ultimate symbol of Fenabel’s dedication to its customers, this new brand name was suggested by an English customer who identified Fenabel as a company that works with passion, soul, and the utmost commitment.
This date was celebrated with great pride because, by then, Fenabel managed to improve the working conditions, extended the showroom and finishing space, and purchased more equipment, allowing it to produce more and better. During these years of growth, Fenabel participated in national and international design competitions, as well as international fairs in Paris, Milan, Shanghai, Cologne, New York, and Las Vegas.
Not only is Fenabel a company that produces chairs, but also the dream of a man as well as the result of the hard work of three entire generations. Fenabel is about people and their life stories. We are a family: we, our suppliers/partners, and our customers, who inspire us every day to do more and better, demonstrating the confidence they have in us. In the meantime, we’ve built a new production unit with 12,000 sq. m equipped with the best pieces of machinery, thus improving our production capacity and the quality of our chairs and tables. We will continue to innovate and add value, day after day, because this is what defines Fenabel.