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Filipino products catch the eye of tastemakers in Paris

By Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, The Philippine STAR Published Apr 09, 2022 7:47 am

International tastemakers selected three Filipino products from the Philippine participation in Maison & Objet and More (MOM), the online sourcing platform of Maison & Objet, as among the Best of MOM. They were showcased at the IRL edition of the premier Paris trade fair for design, decoration and lifestyle at The Parc des Expositions last March 24-28.

Part of the Design Philippines delegation organized by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the Macaroni Chandelier by LIJA by That One Piece, the Rattan and Abaca Partition by Shelmed Cottage Treasures, and the ZZ Runner by Weavemanila will be among the selection of choice pieces from top global brands.

The design acumen of Philippine exporters is complemented by the right reading of the zeitgeist — turning to color, fun and nostalgia last year as a creative response to the unprecedented lifestyle changes brought by the pandemic.

Caroline Biros, marketing and communication director of MOM, shared how they “always set up dedicated, inspirational spaces and select — with the help of trends experts — the remarkable novelties, the colors, the shapes or the materials which are in line with upcoming trends.”

Philippine artisanal products are particularly a la mode this season since “designers are deeply inspired by ethnic crafts using traditional weavings or sustainable fabrics made from plant leaves,” added Biron, who also observed how “these techniques, perfectly mastered by Filipino manufacturers, are really interesting when they take a strong design bias.”

The design acumen of Philippine exporters is complemented by the right reading of the zeitgeist — turning to color, fun and nostalgia last year as a creative response to the unprecedented lifestyle changes brought by the pandemic. With the shift to bubble living, spaces have to be reimagined and redecorated into multipurpose personal oases ideal for work, play and wellness — needs that are answered by the timely Filipino pieces selected by the trend forecasters to sit alongside international favorites.

Macaroni Chandelier by LIJA by That One Piece

Who wouldn’t want a chandelier like the Macaroni to elicit a giggle in the corner of one’s home? Inspired by feel-good memories of childhood — the Slinky Toy and the favorite pasta that Filipinos have made their own as staple for Christmas and fiesta fare — the vibrant pendant lamp by contemporary lighting and furniture brand LIJA by That One Piece was designed by Rachelle Dagñalan, who grew up playing with clay, stone and woven fibers.

The Macaroni Chandelier has a dynamic coil design with playful colors.

Rowen de Jesus, founder of the brand, which has a knack for working with natural materials as well, wanted a look that was organic: “Rachelle knew that we are good with paper and the ‘binding’ technique, so we veered towards that but with a twist, literally.”

The direction also fulfilled “the creation of the illusion of action and perpetual movement, which is always a sight to behold,” but is not often seen in lighting design. The unique helical-shape of the Macaroni definitely deviates from the jagged, pointed and denticulate designs that the company has been doing for the past seasons. Rounded, softer shapes in furniture and accessories, which are more soothing and less aggressive, are more desirable now but the collaborators also wanted a certain dynamism which the coiling achieves.

The Macaroni brings joy to any setting.

“As more people are staying and working from home, they would need something that suggests movement, especially in a world that has become increasingly stationary,” says Rowen. There is also a need for more positivity in the world, which is why they chose yellow, green and peach — colors that suggest energy, youthfulness and playfulness.

ZZ Runner by Weavemanila

For the ZZ Runner of Weavemanila, the young vibe comes from the ’70s. Part of the In Any Kind of Place collection presented by CITEM for MOM, it was designed by Rita Nazareno and Gabby Lichauco of Nazareno/Lichauco for the company’s collective of weavers from different communities in Albay, Sorsogon, Batangas and Bohol, specializing in abaca.

The ZZ Runner on the wall evokes sand and surf memories listening to ZZ Top on the radio.

“We love abaca because it’s indigenous to the Philippines and we are known all over the world for being its number-one producer,” says Ann Hernandez, president of Weavemanila.

In a video she related how “Rita and Gabby wanted to evoke a time of decades ago of sand and surf, so they played with muted colors of the sun setting down on the beach — imagine music blaring as the surfers hung out by their trucks, sand on their feet, listening to ZZ Top on the radio.”

The ZZ Runner on the floor brings a ’70s vibe.

The soft take on color play with gradients and ombré has a nostalgic feel with a touch of pop and yet with the shape, “it gives off a modern vibe which is really cool because you can use it as a runner and even a wall art piece,” says Ann.

The non-standard linear pattern and rich color palette, deviations from their usual designs, needed more attention in the technical aspects. “Everything we make is hand-dyed and hand-woven, so we had to be patient with the process.”

Rattan and Abaca partition by Shelmed Cottage Treasures

The Rattan and Abaca partition is a fruitful fusion of two countries and cultures, thanks to the design exchange program between the Philippine manufacturer Shelmed Cottage Treasures and Taiwan’s Kai Ping Liu and Ya Ching Lee of Essence Design & Craft.

The Rattan and Abaca Partition is a fusion of the two cultures of the Philippines and Taiwan.

Dubbed as “Between,” the partition demonstrates the diversity of abaca weaving, working as an individual or combinable piece suitable for different spaces. “Because abaca is mostly presented in a flat form, we thought of making it different yet uniquely fit as a home accessory and furniture,” says designer Kai Ping Liu.

“The natural fiber is malleable,” shared Shelmed’s Mary Mediatrix Villanueva, a third-generation manufacturer and exporter of a company with 120 years of experience. “There are so many processes that you can adopt: braiding, twisting, crocheting, weaving. And you can shape it, dye it in many colors, and be excitedly different in creative approaches.”

The Rattan and Abaca partition works as an individual or combinable piece.

With abacalero grandparents and artisan parents (the Vallejos), she was born into this industry and has lived through all the challenges, particularly the past two years, which have taught many lessons for resilience. Their company has remained as strong and adaptable as the fiber they work with, reflecting qualities for our export industries to emulate: To stay steadfast and evolve with the times through creative solutions that will take us through this pandemic and beyond.