‘I wanted to create something covetable and collectible. I began to think of plates like it was part of a person’s wardrobe.’
Rajo Laurel is one of our most prolific Filipino designers. He is always doing something new, he is restless, he is limitless, he is unstoppable.
Never a dull moment with this designer, who I first met up close during an Asian cruise some 18 years ago. He was a livewire who made us laugh and listen. He could also sing!
Then I saw that he had many dreams and visions. And he has certainly done it all. He now practically has a complete lifestyle line, the latest addition being his plates, which he calls his “dinnerwear.” We had a chat on this:
What made you design plates?
Because we have all been staying home more, I thought that we all should make our homes as beautiful and as comfortable as we all can. I have always loved seeing or creating beautiful tablescapes. I believe that it all begins with table wear. So when the opportunity came with Casa Juan Manila, I immediately said yes! I wanted to create something covetable and collectible. I began to think of plates like it was part of a person’s wardrobe.
For my very first collection, I immediately thought of my sketches and fashion illustrations. These sketches are where everything begins. I thought of the fundamental DNA of my design aesthetics and used these images for the plates. You will see nuances of my design vocabulary with each stroke and line.
Perhaps? I am the type of creative person that likes to take on new things, as this makes me grow not only as a designer, but also as a person.
Tablecloth and napkins?
I am currently working on this and I am actually quite excited, as this line is a sustainable and a regenerative concept.
What was your inspiration for your plates?
I really wanted to use my illustrations as a starting point. It’s what I have always done when I create. I put my hand on paper and begin to draw. I wanted this energy on the plate. I wanted something with a handmade feel, as this for me is something special. The dinnerware is of a limited edition and quantity, as we only made 150 sets. I used my favorite pens and brushes to create the designs and from there hopefully it will grow to something more of a collectible item. I have always loved to entertain and my idea of relaxation now is cooking and setting up tablescapes, or #platuplatuhan. LOL! Now that I have my own plates, I think it will be even more fun.
You’ve made clothes, kiddie wear, cloth bags, furniture...
I have also lent my creative energies to corporate uniforms, bed linens for Canadian, mattresses for Uratex, wedding cakes for Red Ribbon, women’s and men’s shoes for SM ShoeMart. I have done Jeans for Bench, as well as perfumes. Various items for National Book Store, which included pens, notebooks and accessories. I designed lingerie for Avon. We were part of the team that produced Rags2Riches. I have done also candles, scarves, wedding rings and fine jewelry. Oh… I also designed a hamburger for Brothers Burger. LOL!
What was your concept behind these?
I ask several questions, such as: How does this make me feel? Does it make me smile? Does this make me interested? Do I like how it tastes, looks and smells? All these have to have a positive affirmation to my senses. I must fall in love with the product in order for me to fully be inspired. I am generally quite inquisitive and I love learning, so I feel so grateful to be able to share my design aesthetic and vocabulary with several disciples.
You’re going the way of global designers who now offer the complete lifestyle line: Ralph Lauren, Armani...
...Calvin Klein, Issey Miyake, Tom Ford. I believe that one can live and lead a well-designed life if you begin from what you love and it gives you much joy.
Banner photo: Rajo Laurel created three items for his “dinnerwear” in collaboration with Casa Juan Manila: a salad plate with different fashion sketches, a dinner plate with a simple, unfinished brush circle on the rim, and a plate charger with a silver fabric net design.