Modern rustic Filipino: “Sawali” and abaca tube suspension lamp, “tikog” upholstered sofa, glass-and-water-hyacinth table and “tikog” stool and table lamps made of water hyacinth PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARAN
Tañada grandson designs with sustainable, accessible materials
Designer Noel Tañada takes the crudeness out of bamboo and water hyacinth and transforms them into forward-looking functional furniture and lighting accessories.
The grandson of the late Sen. Lorenzo Tañada, he lived in Los Angeles and worked for Ethan Allen, Crate and Barrel, and Drexel Heritage before finally starting his own company, Tañada International. He returned to the Philippines to help communities and foundations by using their materials in his designs.
Ecohome Art uses materials harvested from sustainable resources. Recycled doy packs are provided by Kilus Foundation, while tikog weaves come from Balikatan sa Kaunlaran. Tanglaw is his line of LED and solar-powered lighting.
Tañada’s recent collection features hampers, shoulder bags, doggie beds and doggie pouches made of woven doy packs, suspended lamps made of water hyacinth and tassels of abaca fiber, a personalized bamboo shelf with one’s favorite tile inserts, water hyacinth parol mounted on stainless steel shafts, a tapered mirror frame in black water hyacinth, and a bamboo holder for dripping wet umbrellas, to name a few.
The silhouettes and the concepts were inspired by his travels. On a recent trip to Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy, he was fascinated by the smooth curves and elongated lines of the furniture. Hence, he made the lines of his accessories and furniture tapered and soft.
Then there were impressions of the solar-powered villas in Bellagio. “When you entered, there was just one fixture in the middle of the living room, and the townhouse lit up,” he says.
He then designed solar-powered suspended lamps using organic materials. To make them sturdy, water hyacinth and abaca are dipped in polyurethane for a week, then dried.
In his house and atelier, he has been using solar-powered lamps, replacing heat-inducing halogens with LED lights indoors. At that time, halogen lights were in demand because they made interiors look cozier but at a price. The market recently introduced warm-colored LED lights. His electric bill went down from P34,000 a month to P26,000.
While shopping abroad, his wife Michelle was carrying so much stuff in her expensive designer bag that the lock broke. Back home, he appropriated the silhouette of the designer bag by using woven doy packs and making a sturdier strap and lock.
For dog lovers, he built a little bed and a bag for the dog made of doy packs. “This doggie bed will last forever. Wash the bed and it will dry by itself. Even if the dogs bite into the material, they can’t,” he says.
One of his innovations is a doy-pack hamper which can also serve as trash bag or cooler for ice and beer. “You can use it if you’re moving, or going to the beach,” he adds.
On his favorite designs, he cites the solar-powered water hyacinth table which automatically lights up at night, and the backlit coffee table made with glass and excess sawali strips. The lighting can be switched on with a smartphone.
His bamboo and water hyacinth bollard lamps with a clip and foot can be used anywhere. A resort in Palawan ordered several pieces.
“If you put it in the garden, take the plate out and turn it around. You can plug it in the garden. No need to use kerosene to light up torches,” says Tañada.
Ultimately, the designer calls his look Modern Native. “I wanted to show the Filipinos the wealth of materials around them. The sawali, which is used on their wall, can be made into a lampshade. I want to show the younger ones to use their imagination.” —CONTRIBUTED
Ecohome showroom opens on Nov. 4 at 157 M. Paterno St., Brgy. Pasadena, San Juan City.