Latest Stories

London-based Filipino designer opts for artisanal modes of creation

From fiber lamps to handcrafted furniture, Daniel Latorre Cruz is going for ‘the opposite of mass production’


CHILDREN’S deck chair with macramé

Turning his back on technocracy and mass production, London-based Filipino designer Daniel Latorre Cruz reverts to history and traditional craftsmanship. Call it the revival of the artisan.

When he’s not producing edgy designs in his London studio, he comes to the Philippines as a consultant for companies participating in the Manila FAME. The founder of Epoch Collaboration, a group of local designers with foreign experience, Latorre Cruz has been traveling around the country searching for new materials and getting exposed to our craftsmanship.

THE PHILIPPINE booth which Daniel Latorre Cruz curated at the World Design Capital fair in Helsinki

Hailing from Tarlac, Latorre Cruz migrated to the UK in his childhood. He studied Furniture and Related Product Design at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College in High Wycombe, a town with a furniture tradition.

In London, he produced unusual designs such as shelves inspired by origami paper planes. British publications, such as “How to Spend It” and “Time and Leisure,” have raved about his Icarus lamp, made of mulberry fibers shaped like wings. A larger version, “Winged Victory,” has the same powerful impact as that of a chandelier.

MEDITATIVE lighting fixture inspired by pagodas

Latorre Cruz’s works, though fragile and sensual, appeal to the West, which has been getting jaded with products of industrialization.  People have grown weary of the uniformity and coldness of machine-made designs.  They are now open to objects that are idiosyncratic, personal, and evoke emotional resonance.

Like the Icarus lamp and Winged Victory, Latorre Cruz’s recent lighting fixtures establish mood rather than illuminate. Made of mulberry paper with marks of raindrops, the orb lamps suggest the transient passing of day and night light. “These are mood lighting pieces. If you turn it one way, it resembles a moon crater. Turn it the other way, it resembles a close-up of the sun.”

Local materials

Latorre Cruz explored other local materials such as the pliant rattan and crystalline capiz.  His large Pagoda lamps, made of supple rattan, were the silhouettes of Asian temples.

OTTOMANS made of abaca

A lamp made from capiz resembled a diamond with facets. “Working with capiz can be tricky but I love the translucence, especially when it shines against natural light. You can make it golden. Next time, I will try to shape and curl it.”

For the World Design Capital fair at Helsinki, Latorre Cruz turned to macramé, creating hand-knotted ottomans and a child’s deck chair. The ottomans were shaped like sacks. “It’s for storing. You can stuff clothes there. I like the idea of saving clothes and passing them on to the next generation.”

LATORRE Cruz introduces ancient Saxon techniques and tools such as the shaving horse.

Asked what’s new about his work, Latorre Cruz hopes to inject a new style of incorporating ancient techniques and tools from England using local lumber.

He is referring to bodging and greenwood furniture-making.  Bodging is an ancient wood-turning technique that was common in High Wycombe. It employs unseasoned wood to make chairs and cylindrical parts. Greenwood furniture-making is another traditional method that uses hand tools. The trees are lopped just above the ground so they can regrow. It involves a method of making furniture without the need for fasteners, such as screws, nails and adhesives.

The designer also introduces the pole lathe, used by the Saxons, which works like an extra pair of hands. The operator pushes a leg against the pedal, whose tension is provided by a limber sapling. “It presses down the pedals and grips what you are working on. It uses a blade or a knife just to shave the wood. With the pole lathe, you chisel.”

NEW take on capiz lampshade by Obra of Cebu

RESEMBLING a moon crater, the lampshade is made of natural paper with simulated raindrops.

These techniques create stronger furniture because the pliancy of the tree is maintained. “I’d like to have that purity with no electricity. That’s the artisan, the opposite of mass production. It is very soulful.”

Latorre Cruz says it’s ideal in remote places in the Philippines where artisans can make furniture without electricity.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Daniel Latorre Cruz , fiber lamps , Filipino designer , Furniture , handcrafted furniture , interior design , Manila FAME

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • [VIDEO] No assurances on Janet Lim-Napoles’ bid to become state witness
  • South Sudan president fires long-time army leader
  • 25 cops ordered relieved over links to drugs
  • Bloodied shirt, unwashed fork: JPII relics abound
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Guiao summoned by PBA for name-calling incident
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted