In a furniture vignette, the coffee table is replaced by a mahogany chest raised on slim black iron legs. The seaters are not neutral colored and pared-down, as expected of Philux, but a chic, royal blue plush armchair and love seat with foliage-printed poufs as accent pieces.
Philux, furniture maker and retailer, holds its trunk show on Friday at its showroom at Rockwell’s Power Plant Mall.
Behind the radical collection are the second-generation entrepreneurs and siblings, Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez and Jessica Kienle.
“We are offering a new look and making the designs younger,” says Stephanie, Philux vice president for sales and marketing. “We are introducing different color finishes to enhance the beauty of wood. It’s more natural-looking. The new collection is inspired by California living.”
As head of design and visual merchandising, Jessica says the new elements reflect her industrial and contemporary style. “It’s something I’ve wanted to introduce at Philux. For so long, we’ve had shiny wood, smooth finishes and streamlined silhouettes. I want to go 180 degrees by incorporating metal, tufting, two-toned elements and rounded corners.”
Stephanie adds, “People ask, ‘Don’t you stick to neutrals?’ The display is that way, but you can be as playful as you want.” She’s had requests from clients for upholstered wing chairs in lime and a bold combination of chartreuse and violet.
Philux was established in 1980 by their father Max Kienle, a Swiss engineer, and his Filipino wife Zelda Aragon.
Philux began with rattan furniture and later developed radiata, a sustainable pinewood, and mahogany. The products have been known for understated elegance, durability and affordable prices.
The pieces are assembled with quality German hardware, utilizing traditional craftsmanship and modern technology.
Since childhood, the siblings have immersed themselves in factory operations, learning furniture manufacturing. Their foreign education had helped them prepare for their careers.
Stephanie was an economics major at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, and also took Sciences Politiques at the Institut des Sciences Politiques in Paris and a short marketing course at the London School of Economics.
Jessica studied at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, and took interior architecture at Ecole Supérieure des Arts et Techniques in Paris.
She worked as apprentice for interior designer Muriel Brandolini’s projects, which included TV host Matt Lauer’s home in the Hamptons.
For this collection, Jessica draws from her Bay Area sojourn. The California style is associated with casual elegance, or the mixture of furniture that has an “old” look. “It’s looking chic without trying,” says Jessica.
New surface treatment is notable. For so long, the furniture was characterized by shiny finish, which tended to mask the real beauty of wood. The eye focused on the reflection rather than the wood.
The new collection has matte finishes that reveal the allure of the grain and evoke an organic feel. Aside from walnut, the new surfaces include extreme colors in black, charcoal and coffee.
For instance, a classic Philux cabinet with louvers is given a whitewash finish. “You coat with paint and sand it so you can see the grains,” explains Jessica.
With the whitewashed finish, the cabinet becomes dainty enough to complement the children’s room.
Since mixing textures and design styles is part of the California look, Jessica explains that the organic feel of matte surfaces is balanced with plush upholstered pieces. The tactile quality of linen is an alternative to Philux’s usual cotton, mixed polyester and velvet fabrics.
The new collection also introduces tufting or bunching fabric, curved armrests and more generous proportions in the chairs and sofas.
Even the beds have tufted backrests. There’s been an order for contrasting piping and buttons for an upholstered bed frame.
Another California reference, the oak barrel, is evocative of the vineyards of Napa Valley. Jessica used the wooden slats, the look of repurposed wood and black iron trims as design characteristics.
Jessica then took a Philux staple, the wooden armoire, which was solid and looked heavy. She updated it with louvers, black metal trim and brass knob handles.
Then there’s the chest table with a coffee finish that has been a top seller, not only for its unique design but for its storage capacity.
“I’ve always loved the chest look for its masculine design. It’s like a trunk but instead of being laid on the ground, looking heavy, I elevated it with metal. It can go with elegant furniture,” says Jessica.
The furniture pieces are named after San Francisco streets. Aside from the Sutter coffee chest table, there are the fully upholstered Polk bed, the Lombard bed slatted frame, the Mason wingback chair and the Hyde living room collection, to name a few.
The Fulton chair pays homage to the iconic, stackable Model A chair designed by French entrepreneur Xavier Pauchard in the early 20th century. Since the chair is usually made of a single material, the young designer mixes an aluminum and wood frame with plush upholstery and calls it “industrial chic.”
Philux’s California Collection has a polarity of styles and textures that still look harmonious.
“People don’t want to stick to a certain look. They want to buy pieces that they like and put them together. That is what we want to push. You don’t need to buy sets and get a cookie-cutter look. Even if the pieces are in contrast, they can still blend. It’s like fashion. You don’t want to look too romantic from head to toe; you can wear a flowing dress with an edgy pair of boots and the whole outfit looks nice. That is the feel for the new collection,” explains Stephanie.
Philux wants to cater to a wider, younger aspirational market, and not just clients with large homes. The queen-sized fabric Polk bed fetches P35,950. The love seat is P32,950 and a mahogany desk with a metal X frame is P17,950.
This Friday, the trunk show will also present a fashion collection by Cebuana designer Mia Arcenas. The proceeds will go to MoveEd, an international network that aims to make quality education more accessible to low-income groups.
Alexandra Eduque, the founding chairperson of MoveEd Philippines, aims to raise funds for the schools in Bicol. “We dedicate this launch to the greater good,” says Stephanie.