Filipino artisans get creatively ‘maarte’

From found objects to glass and clay, different materials go into one-of-a-kind products showcasing Filipino ingenuity

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03:13 AM September 5th, 2012

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By: Anne A. Jambora, September 5th, 2012 03:13 AM

BRASS and steel wine holder by Seagull Glass. PHOTOS BY RICHARD A. REYES

More than 40 jewelers, fashion and home accessory designers, and cultural entrepreneurs gathered at the recently concluded sale and exhibition fair titled “MaArte 2012: Artisans Fair” at the North Court and Archeology Annex of the PowerPlant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati.

A project of the Museum Foundation of the Phils., “MaArte 2012” made one-of-a-kind, artisanal products from around the country accessible to the public. Headlining the furniture and home accessories was interior and furniture designer Eric Paras’ A-11 Furniture Gallery that exhibited its brand line, Industria.

BERLIN with marble cone shade in steel base in gunmetal finish by A-11.

“Industria is a brand we export. We’re exhibiting here right now so that Filipinos can have a chance to see and buy this collection,” Paras said.

It also showcased some of Paras’ designs, such as lamps with marble shades, cabinets and woodcarvings, in neutral colors like brown, white and gray. Although he favors clean lines in his designs, Paras is not a minimalist. Texture takes prominence in most of his works, as he mixes found objects and salvaged material into his designs.

Another artist who likes to mix different elements in his work is glass sculptor Bobby Castillo, owner and designer of Seagull Glass Works, founded 24 years ago. Castillo’s out-of-box design philosophy had him combining glass with metal, wood, acrylic plastic, resin, stone, marble, granite, rubber and even pressed flowers.

Asian inspirations

GLASS lamps by Seagull Glass

Employing a 3,500-year-old glass design technique called klinforming that involves molding the glass at over 800 degrees Celsius, Castillo said he takes his inspiration from observing people. His Asian Hat Series glass lamps, for instance, featuring glass shades resembling  the conical hats found in Vietnam, Cambodia, China and even in the Philippines, convey similarities in Asian cultures.

Another sculptor who uses a kiln is artist Joey Castro, who exhibited his pottery art. Castro, who enrolled in a pottery class 10 years ago when he needed pots for his plants, now teaches at his own school called Sierra Madre Pottery Studio and Gallery.

POTTERY by Sierra Madre Pottery

From decorative and functional large plates and vases to small paperweights and bowls, Castro’s design is playful. An 8-kg plate, for instance, bears the peace sign in dark blue.

“This is actually an art form that’s very physical to execute. You handle and trim and move things around, like an 8-kg lump clay. It’s like lifting weights. This is my gym, my strength-training, my marathon, my hobby, my passion, my livelihood,” he said, laughing.

GARBO Clover Chair of steel frame in oxidized iron finish by A-11

Other exhibitors included Monteville’s decorative storage, Casa Kyla’s linen, Zentiments’ tableware, Bungalow 300’s furniture and home accessories, and Philippine Treasure’s tabletop decors.

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