The Philippines has a rich heritage of craft, banking on its abundance of indigenous natural resources. As seen recently at the 62nd edition of Manila Fame, the longest-running lifestyle and design fair in the region, local designers are tapping on global design trends to produce unique creations that exhibit artistic, sculptural qualities, yet retain a local flavour. We show you the highlights.
Ann Pamintuan, an award-winning jewellery and furniture designer, uses only metal to create her pieces, such as the Cocoon chair (pictured, left) and decorative animal sculptures (pictured, far left). She first began experimenting with roots, leaves and flowers, shaping the botanicals and giving them permanence by casting them in gold, silver and copper. Fusing these organic materials with metal, she started her jewellery line, before venturing into home decor, furniture and sculptures. What’s unique is that her pieces are “see-through” and look lightweight, but are actually sturdy and extremely durable.
Ito Kish is well-known not just locally but internationally, for works which feature intricate details and thoughtful concepts. His latest collection on show are the Arellano vases, made of fine bone china and inspired by the iconic Art Deco-style Manila Metropolitan Theater. Made in four sizes, the pieces form a cityscape when artfully arranged together and reference the issue of heritage conservation in the city.
Using the traditional rattan, Obra Cebuana comes up with innovative designs for its furniture by manipulating the size and shape of the strips. Distinctive pieces, such as the Black Swan chair (pictured above), not only make use of flat rattan slats and tapered poles for structure, but also incorporate various craft techniques such as weaving.
Tadeco Home makes use of only all-natural fibres, and the brand is especially known for its designs created out of abaca fibre that is intricately handwoven into rolls of fine fabric. This age-old technique is used to create a variety of objects for the home, including decorative tiles, candleholders, cushions, lighting fixtures and planters!
Finali uses a combination of materials – resin, stone, fibreglass, rattan, stainless steel and other native materials abundant in the Philippines – in its home accessories. One example is the Populi candleholder (pictured, left) that is made of rattan, abaca, crushed stone and cast metal. Other decorative accents include wall hangings and vases, all sporting a modern-traditional look.
Wood is a key material in Vito Selma’s designs, which focus on shapes and textures. The designer is inspired by Japanese and Scandinavian styles. Most of his new pieces are interactive – an example is the Twist lamp (pictured below), featuring individual segments that can be arranged to appear either flat or 3-D, allowing the user to play designer and manipulate the shape of the shade according to preference.