Innovative homegrown designs will take center stage as this year’s Philippine International Furniture Show (PIFS) proudly features the best of Filipino craftsmanship, ingenuity, design talent and manufacturing skills.
Slated from March 14 to 17 at the SMX Convention Center of the Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City, the PIFS will shine the spotlight on 10 up-and-coming Filipino furniture designers who are equipped with both local and international training in their craft. Just as importantly, their works will be opened to the world market, with visitors from different parts of the globe congregating in Manila for the annual furniture event.
The 10 Filipino designers include: Alex Tan, Rey Soliven, Stanley Ruiz, Dem Bitantes, Ronald Rommel, Naval Villoria, Daniel Latorre Cruz, Jiggoy Buensuceso, Astrud Crisologo, who will exhibit under creative director Antonio Mendoza.
Mendoza—an architect and interior designer who is noted for his contemporary Asian style—was commissioned for the post in July 2013, and tasked “to ensure the display of world class exhibition settings” for the works of the Filipino furniture designers.
Confident of the Filipino’s design talent, Mendoza enthusiastically declared, “We have an edge compared to our neighbors in terms of design. We are the Latins of Asia and have over 400 years of Spain in our culture. This becomes evident in our designs, which are made with passion, and made from the heart. We are different this way and many countries recognize this.”
Biggest furniture event
Considered as the biggest furniture event of the year, PIFS 2014 is organized by the country’s three major trade associations in the furniture industry. These are the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. (CFIF); Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP); and Pampanga Furniture Industries Foundation, Inc. (PFIF).
With the furniture show’s successful turnout in 2013, this year’s outing will gather a bigger audience of some 60 to 80 companies from the Philippines and around the globe—from architectural firms to building designers and engineers, as well as property developers and other related businesses—in search of innovative and high quality furniture designs for their equally varied range of projects.
“This year’s PIFS has united regions and associations. It is now the central showcase for the national furniture industry,” asserted PIFS chairman Christina Gaston. She reported that PIFS 2013 brought in buyers and clients from the Middle East, North and South America, Europe, and Africa effectively making the Philippines a legitimate player in the international furniture market.
Mendoza rejoined that besides being recognized as one of the fastest-growing economies in the region, the Philippines is now in the radar of furniture buyers across the globe, who value skilled craftsmanship and unique designs in their acquisitions.
“Our furniture and designs have beautiful curves with elegant colors, no matter how austere they appear; they always exude taste and artistry,” he observed. “We have many beautiful houses that incorporate endless intricate details in their design, and the same can even be said with our jeepneys.”
“We Filipinos really like to make beautiful things and that’s why there’s a growing design market in the country now. The economy is better and the buyers are coming in. We make things with passion, and that’s what sets us apart. We should capitalize on this because this will help other industries in the country as well,” Mendoza added.
To assure that the furniture fair has a specified theme and “focus,” the creative director and the pool of 10 designers chose metal as the furniture pieces’ central material.
“Metal is a material that is easily available,” he explained of the choice.
“Nowadays, wood furniture is dwindling, and there are parameters in purchasing wooden furniture. In the European market for example, they have to turn to Indonesia to buy the material where they grow trees specifically for furniture, and which comes with furniture certification. But of course, to import wood is very expensive.
“As for bamboo,” he continued, “it’s commonly being used already, so we turned to the use of metal, which hasn’t been explored that much.”
As for interpreting the material into furniture, Mendoza described Philippine design today as one that is “more modern with a global perspective.”
“We cannot be parochial in thinking and our look has to be global, but with a Filipino touch,” he emphasized. “The flavor cannot only be for us [to appreciate]because the market itself has gone global. Before, trends took forever to catch on, such as the ‘Romanesque’ or ‘Gothic’ trends. But now with the Internet, everyone can see almost everything easily.”
Besides the works of the 10-featured artists, Mendoza informed that the fair will showcase an extensive range of products from different regions in the country, with Cebu, Pampanga and Manila at the forefront.
Additionally, chosen local companies will display an array of unique and innovative furniture, lighting, and architectural components, as well as holiday décor, fashion accessories, home décor, gifts and spa-based products, which together prove the competitiveness of Filipino home and furniture design today.
“Together with the show management, I selected companies that will be participating in the special settings at the event and the backdrop against which they will be displayed,” Mendoza explained.
“We will work with these companies to create significant pieces that will demonstrate our craft and manufacturing skills as well as our design talent and understanding and interpretation of international trends. It is important that buyers get a clear and accurate vision of what the Philippines has to offer for the coming seasons.”
Major names in the local industry who will present their products at the fair include Azcor Lighting Solutions, Country Accents, Vito Selma, E. Murio, Designs Ligna, Locsin International, Pacific Traders, Mehitabel, and More Than A Chair, among others.
Two of the featured designers, Daniel Latorre Cruz and Stanley Ruiz, were presented to media at the PIFS 2014 event announcement on January 21. Held at The Gallery of Greenbelt 5, the pair took the opportunity to share some insights on the pieces they will exhibit in March.
From Ruiz, the market can expect a more “sculptural” approach in his designs, adding that his two collections will showcase contemporary furniture that is “open, with a more generous treatment of volume and negative space.” He has chosen neutral colors for his work, which he revealed allowed him to incorporate that “Filipino touch.”
As for Cruz, who revealed that he is still working on new concepts for the upcoming exhibit, said that his style is “linear besides sculptural.”
“There will be a combination of natural materials and new forms, as well as local techniques such as weaving featured in the pieces,” he elaborated.
According to Cruz and Ruiz, they and the rest of their fellow designers are grateful to Mendoza for pushing them to their potential, especially since they had long admired his work and the success of his company J. Antonio Mendoza Design Consultants.
For his part, Mendoza has not only given the designers his full support but also enjoined the help of other successful names in the industry to further boost the furniture show.
“Friends in the industry—Ed Calma, Joey Yupangco, Anna Sy, Conrad Anglao, among others—are helping design booths for the show, gratis et amore. It’s our way of giving back to an industry that has been very kind to us.”
The Design Center of the Philippines (DCP) will also participate in the show, “to train young Filipino talent and prepare them for employment in the local industry.”
“These designers will be mentoring the scholars, and after two years in DCP then they let them go because they have to shine in the industry, and this helps increase their competitiveness,” Mendoza concluded.
For inquiries, about PIFS 2014, log on to www.nextonenow.com/pifs.