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Designer creates a stool out of ‘Philippine Star’ headlines from ‘the year that made us think’

By Tanya Lara Published Feb 18, 2021 8:19 pm

Product designer Gio Prado woke up on Jan. 27, 2020 and got the shock of his life. His idol, basketball legend Kobe Bryant, was dead.

Kobe’s Sikorsky helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California on Jan. 26, 9 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time)

“I remember waking up at 5:30 a.m. on Monday and as I started to prepare for another day at the office, I noticed that my phone was getting a suspicious amount of notifications at such an early time of the day,” Gio says.

“I don’t usually check them until I am all set and ready to leave for work, and I finally checked my notifs and I read an article saying that Kobe Bryant had tragically passed away with his daughter and other passengers in a helicopter crash. It was truly one of the most shocking and devastating news that I had read in my life.”

And thus started what would be for Gio—and for everyone else on the planet—a year that felt like we were all in suspended animation, trapped in some bizarre sci-fi movie.

He decided to keep all the headlines related to the tragedy “because although it brought great mourning to Kobe’s fans, it was also a reminder about the value of time. No matter how great and how well you have served your purpose, it all comes down to how much time you have left to spend with those you love.”

Product designer Gio Prado looks at the Philippine STAR issues from 2020.  
“The Year That Made us Think” limited-edition stool is made from STAR stories printed on MDF. 

Two days after Kobe died, the Philippine STAR’s Sports section published a dramatic one-page tribute to Kobe Bryant—his picture occupying more than half of the upper fold. Kobe is smiling, wearing a black hoodie and has a mic tucked in his hand.

Gio grew up reading the STAR, thanks to his grandfather Bert Calaquian, who founded the family’s printing company. “My grandfather would always cut out and give me snippets of the Spider-man comics section of the Philippine STAR when I was growing up. As a kid I would always look for his pile of newspapers in their house place to look for more snippets.”

Gio is co-founder and creative head of UNFSD (Unfinished), a lifestyle brand that he co-founded with his brother Geoff during his thesis year as an advertising major at UST.

“I was hoping to land a career in the advertising industry, but I guess life had other plans for me. I now work in our printing company with a product development team. UNFSD is one of two brands helping our company venture into retail and we started with graphic tees.”

The interlocking legs of the stool.
What 2020 was. 

Six weeks after Kobe’s death, Metro Manila was put under lockdown.

“This headline was probably the most important headline of all mainly because it’s the first of its kind. I can only imagine how it must have felt to write a headline basically telling all Filipinos to drop everything and stay indoors for the next few months,” he says. “This was another example of a headline that made me realize that we are truly not in control of what lies ahead.”

In the coming months, the STAR’s front page—on most days at least—would be about the pandemic: the death toll of frontliners, the number of infections, the economy collapsing, people losing their jobs, politicians grandstanding, another unaudited coronavirus fund, another round of loans, vaccines that were arriving the following year, vaccines that were not arriving after all, etc.

Gio recalls thinking that everything that was happening was a series of unfortunate events that started to pile up—like a stack of old newspapers—in the latter part of the year.

As 2020 thankfully neared its end, he decided to do something about the newspapers he had collected and the stories that were stuck in his head.

What headlines will 2021 bring? 

At first it was meant to be an internal project—to create an archive of headlines that had a significant impact on the world. “We did this because we wanted these headlines to teach us lessons on how the world can be sometimes. As the year progressed, more headlines came in bearing news that had an even greater and more significant impact. This was the moment that we decided to share this personal project with the world.”

He literally spread out the STAR newspapers he had collected in front of his team. “Now the question was, ‘How do we turn this year from a bad memory to a lesson that we can all learn from and eventually share with the world? How do we re-introduce these stories and provide a deeper perspective of understanding for the year that had passed?’”

The idea to suspend 2020 into something tangible. After weeks of brainstorming, he and his team scanned the important headlines from STAR and made a collage out of them. They then had the collage printed directly on parts of an MDF stool and had it digitally cut.

Enter the UNFSD 2020 Time Capsule project, “The Year That Made Us Think.”

The front page on Jan. 28, 2020

“The goal was simple: to create an archive for everyone, something that we can all look back on and remember what it was like living in that time period and how we, how the world fought to survived it.

“It’s to give humanity a different perspective of 2020—as more of a lesson than a dark memory. This was the year that crippled us. This was the year that challenged us. More importantly this was the year that made us think.”

In the finished, limited-edition stool, Kobe’s picture covers a big part of the interlocking legs.

Gio says, “Kobe for me really embodied a lot of what UNFSD stands for. I am a fan of his work ethic, creative mentality and drive. His passing was really hard to process. I wanted him to have good part of the stool.” 

Visit the UNFSD website here.

When Gio was a young boy, his grandfather would cut out snippets from the STAR’s comics section for him.