After putting his creative stamp on a range of products—from perfume and shoes to cakes and bed linen—by collaborating with a number of companies, Rajo Laurel has teamed up this time with National Bookstore’s Xandra Ramos-Padilla to produce a line of stationery, lifestyle and travel products for the country’s leading bookstore chain.
Timed for the holidays, the collaboration involves “Rajofied” notebooks wrapped in gold and silver faux leather, chrome pens, tumblers, umbrellas and tote bags.
“I feel like this is just the beginning of something that could last us a long time,” said Laurel, a good friend of Padilla.
Padilla, National Bookstore’s purchasing director, approached Laurel earlier this year with the idea. As an avowed National Bookstore fan, the designer jumped at the chance to extend his brand and get his creative hands on everyday products outside the realm of fashion.
His more recent collaborations involved a denim and perfume line for Bench, women’s and men’s shoes for SM’s Parisian and Milanos, and corporate men’s wear for Wharton.
Laurel also collaborated in the past with Canadian Bed & Bath to produce a line of bed linens, and Red Ribbon, where he did a number of designer cakes.
Except for cakes, almost all of the designer’s collaborations have centered on fashion and home. Laurel sees this deal with National Bookstore as different, but still in line with “my philosophy of elevating products which cater to the mass market.”
This latest collaboration required him to temper his design sensibilities to make the lifestyle products more accessible to consumers.
“It’s not about making a dress or, in this case, a notebook for less,” he said. “It’s about giving more people the same kind of joy that I’m able to give my clients. In the words of Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz on his collaboration with H&M, it’s about ‘sharing the fantasy.’”
And that fantasy and aesthetic, Laurel added, are very much evident in these products in terms of quality and finish. To his knowledge, he’s the first fashion designer to collaborate with a Filipino institution like National Bookstore.
Circular, metallic motifs
The inspiration behind the products was drawn largely from elements Laurel used in his 2012 gala show. After his initial meeting with Padilla, they settled on circular and metallic motifs.
“The products are all highly functional,” he said. “That was one thing I didn’t want to desecrate, if you will. We kept form and function 100 percent, and just tempered the aesthetic to fit the Rajofied mold.”
The designer’s signature squiggle sketch is a recurrent motif on a wide range of items. In keeping with the season’s holiday mood, he also pushed for a more festive color palette like metallic gold and chrome silver.
As a veteran designer, settling for the right look proved easy for Laurel. The hardest part was getting the right materials for the right product.
“I wanted to bring a higher sense of luxury for just the right price points,” he said. “Working with Xandra made the process both manageable and enjoyable. I would do this again for National Bookstore in a heartbeat.”