How CITEM’s ‘Red Box’ program helped two artists reach their full potential
When the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) called out young, aspiring designers for a rare opportunity to be trained and guided by top furniture and fashion designers back in 2014, Thian Rodriguez and Jim Torres were among the over 140 applicants who immediately heeded the call.
A project that started out in 2011 as a show feature in the annual design showcase Manila FAME, the Red Box program is a platform to harness talents and nurture them to become the next generation of Philippine designers. From its first cycle, four young designers were awarded as grand winners, and represented the Philippines in select trade shows in London, Milan, and New York City.
“The Philippines is full of talented young creatives. Red Box opened its doors to them, so they can further develop their skills under the mentorship of Filipino design icons,” CITEM Executive Director Rosvi Gaetos noted.
For its first cycle, Red Box introduced a shortlist of 14 design talents who were trained and guided by Budji Layug for furniture and home accents, and Lulu Tan-Gan for apparel and fashion accessories.
Specifically, the design talents underwent an in-depth immersion in the local home and fashion industries, including seminars and workshops on design; exposure to craft techniques through regional factory visits; and development of product collections in close collaboration with manufacturers.
The inaugural cycle culminated with the designers’ collections showcased in Manila FAME October 2015, where a jury selected the grand winners based on prescribed criteria.
One of them was Rodriguez, Cycle 1 grand winner for Fashion Apparel. In an interview, the young designer said the win was the most memorable highlight in his career as a designer, and shared how grateful he is to be part of the program.
“The program helped me widen my perspective in arts and fashion. Red Box helped me find my own identity as a designer and build my own name in the industry,” Rodriguez the young talent who has dabbled in fashion design, multimedia application, and theatre arts said.
Furthermore, Rodriguez cites the mentorship under Lulu Tan-Gan, and the exposure to fashion design principles, the industry, and the market as great learning experiences that developed his craft. Rodriguez is one of the four designers who represented the Philippines in the International Fashion Showcase (IFS) in London, United Kingdom in February this year.
Another winner was Torres for the Home category.
Like Rodriguez, the 22-year old also attributes his growth as a designer to the industry exposure. He likewise shared that it is through the program that he was able to discover his design identity by interacting with different people such as clients, manufacturers, and co-designers.
“You must know how to adapt—that’s why Red Box is a mentorship program. Being a designer is more than just designing and building things; it’s about being able to communicate and inspire through design,” Torres added as an advice to aspiring, young designers.
Torres’ Escapade collection, a lighting installation made of shredded stainless steel, was featured in the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York, USA in May 2016.
Like the two designers, Filipino aspirants aged between 21 to 30 years old who have not yet received major home or fashion-related awards can bring their passion and talent for design to a higher level through the 2016-2016 second cycle of the Red Box program.
Cycle 2 of the program will also give aspiring talents the opportunity to participate in international trade fairs, workshops or short courses.
Applicants may submit entries for any of the following categories: furniture; home accents; apparel; and fashion accessories. Only one entry for a maximum of two categories will be accepted. Deadline of submission of entries is on August 19. For more information, visit citem.gov.ph.