Designers say Asian Modern is over | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

At the Philippine Furniture International Show (PFIS), exhibitors met the challenge to remain creative yet viable despite stiff competition from China and other markets.


Organized by the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation, the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines, and the Pampanga Furniture Industries Foundation, the first PFIS focused on the entire furniture industry.


J. Antonio Mendoza, PFIS’ creative director and curator, gathered big names in design to give this trade show an energetic face.


“We’re trying to bring out the very best of the Philippines,” he said.


Many exhibitors reverted to traditional craftsmanship to produce forward-looking designs. Others updated their top sellers.


Many followed this year’s trend that highlights copper and brass and the return to luxury.


“The Asian Modern, which dominated the late 20th century to the early 21st century, is over. Everything now is gold, gold, gold. People are going back to old familiar forms with a contemporary take. They look at the past not to copy, but to learn from it and inspire new designs. Kenneth Cobonpue says, ‘The world doesn’t need another chair, but you still need to innovate,’” said Mendoza.


“What is most important is a renewed excitement in the furniture industry. We didn’t want to compete head-on (with Manila FAME). I just took a different direction which inspired a lot of exporters. There were no ifs and buts. I didn’t change their designs. I find out their strengths and bring out the best. I look at the designs from the perspective of a buyer and interior designer who can put these elements together.”


Designer’s pick


Cebuano company Pacific Traders presents what it does best—Filipino craftsmanship born out of years of research and development.  It is subcontractor to international home brands. This green woven rattan drum table with faux parchment top is a fine example of combining traditional craft with modern design.


Lightbulb moment


The dramatic chandelier has tiers of inverted glass domes with classic filament glass bulbs. The lighting fixture, with copper-finished aluminum and cable supports, has that wow factor. Azcor designed it for the beach to withstand the elements.


Old is new again


Stanley Ruiz gives the capiz lamp a new spin by smoking it and incorporating Art Deco geometric patterns and cubist shapes. It’s not all about design, though. Azcor considers practicality by leaving the lamps open for easy cleaning and to keep bugs at bay.


It’s a wrap


The Obi Hanging Lamp won the HA +D (Hong Kong Architecture + Design) award for its innovation and artistry.  Buri and abaca twine sensuously embrace the fiberglass squash-shaped lamp, lending an organic touch to a manmade material.  Hacienda Crafts utilizes plants abundant in Negros Occidental and harnesses the skills of its workers, who skillfully manipulate their materials.


Reimagining the classics


Pampango company Maze spruces up its popular styles. Carlo Tanseco’s whimsical Silhouette Chair has gold leaf on the edges.


The sunburst mirror frame is given the distressed antique gold finish. Viewers are tricked into thinking that the wrought-iron chest with playful curlicues is made of wood. Tanseco’s works appeal to designers and buyers who are looking for conversation accent pieces.


Oodles of doodles


The  outdoor chair, executed by Locsin International, is  futuristic yet “baroque,” says designer Tony Gonzales. Made of aluminum frame, PVC and synthetic fiber, the Calligraphy chair resembles his doodles. “I wanted to break boundaries and buck the trends,” he says.  The chair has been getting inquiries from buyers, as they’ve never seen anything like it.




Mehitabel’s bar cabinet, based on the idea of a building with a foundation, reflects the architecture background of its designer Tobias Guggenheimer. “The design impetus was to help Mehitabel express its interest in traditional forms but interpreted in a fresh way,” he says.


“The rectilinear geometry, the enhanced proportions and the chrome handles are modern but the material, solid mahogany, is traditional.”


The design marries the quiet Asian aesthetics with early American viewpoint, with the refined and narrow moldings. The walnut veneer framework encloses the composition as a picture frame would, says the architect. The drawer faces are made of a lighter material, parchment.  All told, the striking contrast makes this piece an interesting focal point.


It’s hip to be geometric


Daniel Latorre Cruz dramatizes the pentagon by playing with proportions. For Designs Ligna, he hollowed out the geometric coffee table to display some accent pieces.


Anton Mendoza’s sofa shows how function follows form. The sofa is striking in its simplicity yet designed with the user in mind. It’s deep enough for back support and just the right size so the legs don’t dangle. The arm rests are generous and just the right height so you don’t hunch your shoulder.  Elegantly streamlined, it can fit any narrow door or elevator, and blends with most interior design styles.


Raffia and rattan


Murio’s classic cane-woven rattan chair becomes a 21st-century piece when it is painted in pewter, while the leg framework resembles a polygon of smaller rattan elements. The silver low table, made of raffia, resembles the foldings of an origami. The company wants to show that traditional materials and craftsmanship can find expression in modernism.



Game of thrones


Milan-trained Cebuano designer Vito Selma was inspired by the iconic buri peacock chair. His company utilizes the ancient way of weaving buri, but with a modern design. The round back is reinterpreted into a hexagon and the proportion is blown up to seven feet in height. Covered in gold, this chair is fit for the beauty queen.




In this age of digital sensory stimulation and techno-toys, Vito Selma is giving kids an alternative—the old-fashioned rocking carabao hauling the kariton. It harks back to his childhood experience of riding the carabao while his cousins sat on the cart. Made of traditional wood and rattan and painted in modern gray, it’s been the most salable piece in his collection.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.