Lilianna Manahan: Of childhood fantasies and whimsical tales

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Lilianna Manahan named one of the ‘Rising Asian Artists’ at Singapore’s Maison & Object Asia

Lilianna Manahan named one of the ‘Rising Asian Artists’ at Singapore’s Maison & Object Asia

With a vibrant repertoire of designs such as brass chicken bookends, mushroom-shaped minimalist floor lamps, brightly colored stools with indigenous geometric patterns, Lilianna Manahan’s body of work exudes the whimsical charm of her early youth.

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Born to TV director Johnny Manahan and surface designer Tats Rejante-Manahan, Lilianna has been creating three-dimensional objects since she was a child. Her artistic talents and passion for shaping forms led her to pursue degrees in industrial design from the Central St. Martins College of Art and Design in London, and the University of the Philippines.

After graduating from college, Manahan moved to Cebu to apprentice with the renowned Cebu-based designer Kenneth Cobonpue and his furniture and accessory design group Hive.

Today, Manahan has made a name for herself as one of the country’s most promising young artists. In 2011, she opened her own design studio, Studio Magee.

Named after a childhood nickname given to her by her sister, Studio Magee’s work is inspired by childhood memories, storybook tales, and her travels to many parts of the world.

In her designs, Manahan seeks to create pieces with broad appeal while maintaining her unique flair and individuality as an artist. Her 2012 solo exhibit “Funktion” displayed pieces that embody this balance.

Many of her works also derive inspiration from chosen mediums, including her “Asterix” table lamp, which was made with perforated metal, and her “Fold and Stump” stools, made with the intent of incorporating Ilocos’s traditional inabel and binakol fabrics along with industrial materials.

Manahan showcased her designs in the prestigious Maison & Object Asia in Singapore as one of the chosen “Rising Asian Artists.”

Immediately following this feat, Manahan displayed her work as Red Box Home’s Breakout Artist at the 59th Manila FAME in March.

Under the mentorship of Manila FAME creative director Budji Layug, Red Box aids young artists in learning the business side of the industry by matching them with established manufacturers.

As she sets sail in her exploration of various mediums and whimsical inspirations, Manahan goes on to produce furniture and home accessories that exude a plethora of elements, including industrial design, science, fantasy, history, and anything that teases one’s imagination.

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