AT the lobby of the newly opened Seda Abreeza hotel in Davao City stands an iconic metal sculpture. A vase made of twisted metal strips, like long leaves woven together forming a figure of a baby’s cradle. This is the work of the first Asian woman designer to be included in the prestigious International Design Yearbook, a survey of the best furniture, lighting, textile and product designs found around the world.
“I love creating this kind of art piece that signifies life,” says multi-awarded furniture, home accessories and jewelry designer Maria Antonietta “Ann” Tiukinhoy Pamintuan.
Besides the centerpiece at the hotel, Pamintuan was also commissioned by the Ayala Malls to create a triple pyramid sculpture made of metal, which according to her, is inspired by Davao’s Mt. Apo, the country’s tallest peak.
An artist blooms
The Davao-born artist discovered her artistic talent through an ikebana workshop (the Japanese art of flower arrangement) while she was in school.
As the story goes, the teacher had reprimanded her after she insisted on adding her own twist to the age-old rule of ikebana, but admitted she was impressed with the student’s creative mind.
An intuitive and self-taught designer, Pamintuan bought her own electroplating (metal reducing) machine, and attended a short course to learn how to shape the element to follow her design. From then on, she was able to transform not just metal but other organic materials into extraordinary pieces like her famous cocoon chairs.
Pamintuan graduated with a college degree in business but her hobbies, which also eventually included ikebana, taught her the elements of composition, line and simplicity in design. Her principle then and now is to manipulate ordinary materials to become extraordinary in its raw form.
Today a much-celebrated yet unassuming artist, Pamintuan exudes simplicity and elegance in everything she does, which has become the trademark of her body of work.
“My creations are expressions of life’s raw elegance,” said Pamintuan, who now belongs to a new wave of Filipino designers gaining worldwide recognition from Manila to New York, Milan, Frankfurt, Paris, Tokyo, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
Of roots and nature
Paminutuan’s intrinsic love for nature fuels her passion to use organic materials in her work.
She first experimented with earthy forms of roots, leaves and flowers, shaping them, along with gold, silver and copper. Admitting she learned through trial and error, Pamintuan happily found a fusion of organic material and metal, which in turn gave birth to her jewelry line.
From jewelry, she ventured into vases and bowls, and progressed to furniture and sculptures where she received local and international recognition.
In all these, Pamintuan also never forgets to look back to her heritage.
“When I say my designs are inspired by nature, it reflects how I want to preserve nature’s elegance [combined with]how I interpret the soul of the people of Mindanao. Nature and culture blend together in my designs,” Pamintuan was quoted by the online website, Business and Finance.
Today, Pamintuan is considered one of the pillars of the country’s design industry. She is the proud owner of The Gildex Inc., a design gallery where she showcases her creations to the local and international markets.
She is also a pioneering member of the Movement 8 design alliance—a consortium of the Philippine’s most innovative designers that include Budji Layug, Milo Naval, Luisa Robinson, Tony Gonzales, Kenneth Cobonpue, Renato Vidal and Tes Pasola.
“My purpose is to properly place the Philippines into becoming a design leader in Asia. We have shown how we manipulate natural materials. My metal is raw. It also expresses my personality. I just want to create something extraordinary from the ordinary. Take GI [galvanized iron]wire and the way I weld it. It’s an expensive material that is hand-welded. When you put all the elements together, it results in something that has never been done.”
Indeed, Pamintuan epitomizes the modern-day Filipino woman. One who knows her strength and builds on it, with grace, elegance and love for what is truly important.