69th Manila FAME gets a youthful vibe | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Winner of Best Booth Design, Zarate Manila’s space features their Brique Collection of chairs and tables, and Aerial tables and bowls.
Winner of Best Booth Design, Zarate Manila’s space features their Brique Collection of chairs and tables, and Aerial tables and bowls.

The 69th edition of Manila FAME promised to make everything old new again.

With its theme, “Heritage Reimagined,” the biannual design and lifestyle trade fair redefined the heritage of Philippine design, reinterpreting them for the modern and digital audience.

Efforts to rejuvenate the 36-year-old trade event began in August 2018, when Pauline Suaco-Juan became executive director. Juan and her team worked on the digitalization of the trade show experience by introducing the digital dossier, Touchpoint, and the Manila FAME app.

They also promised new show features in the succeeding editions, and introduced new faces to the consultant pool for the show’s product development program, Design Commune, among them creative director Vince Uy.

How did everything come together at show time last April 25-27?

Uy did not shy away from color and injected the Design Commune space with the brightest yellows, oranges, pinks, blues and greens, turning the central setting into a veritable Instagram space. True enough, selfie-ready attendees flocked there.

Whimsical pendant lamps and home décor sum up Hatch, the culminating exhibit of the NDGT fellows. —MARC MONTENEGRO

Designers and curators Nix Alañon, Stanley Ruiz, Maco Custodio, André Chang and PJ Arañador collaborated with companies and MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in reimagining heritage iconic designs and traditional silhouettes mined from Manila FAME design archives.

The results were captivating. Ruiz’s crayons-colored collection of small home accessories and light fixtures was bold and beautiful, as was Alañon’s cabinetry collection with South Sea Veneer. Arañador and Custodio’s work with artisans from Zamboanga, Antique, Marawi and Albay was equally inspired and marketable.


If the goal was to make the young ones more curious about Manila FAME, Design Commune succeeded. The addition of familiar names alone—some of them social media celebrities—was enough to pique the millennials’ interest.

A group of design students ogled at Chang’s designs—the avant-garde stylist’s collection was fascinating, with a localized Alexander McQueen flavor to it—and a couple of them looked star-struck upon seeing Uy.

The Nix Alañon and Stanley Ruiz lighting design collaboration features architectural pieces. —MARC MONTENEGRO

Also adding a youthful vibe to the event was the row of Fashion E-Tailers—a new show space for 22 of the country’s
up-and-coming fashion entrepreneurs and designer commercial brands who primarily conduct business through their own e-commerce platforms.

Among the standouts were new and familiar names: bags and accessories brands Viajecito, Quiddity Leather Goods, Baúl, and Tropik Beatnik; lifestyle brands HaloHalo, Simple Sentiments PH, and Neon Island; footwear label Stride Collective; and clothing labels Factory, Randolf, Basic Movement, R-U-A, Toqa and Proudrace.

In Hatch, the culminating exhibit of the pioneering batch of NDGT (New Design Graduates Training Program) fellows, functional objects infused with whimsy and art were on display.

The NDGT Program gives emerging designers a chance to expand their potential through a three-phase training program that runs for a year and four months.

Artisans from Albay, Antique, Marawi and Zamboanga use distinctive raw materials and weaves to produce home and fashion pieces. —MANILA FAME

Almost eclipsing the usual abaca, rattan and bamboo was metal. From Pampanga pride Industria Edition to relative newbie Zarate Manila (whose booth, made from 120 sheets of Bristol board, won Katha Awards’ Best Booth Design), metal had a strong showing in lighting and furniture.

Industria Edition’s brushed brass Infisso Swivel Chair and antique brass Loopy Lounge Chair, Zarate Manila’s Aerial center tables, and Schema’s and MCCA’s drop lights are all covetable and remarkable reminders of how, with imagination and talent, the material can be hammered and forged into beautiful, sculptural pieces.

Paperbound’s customwall paper design, “Sayawan” (above right), a take on “toile de Jouy,”wins Katha Awards’ Best Product Design (Home Décor). —PAPERBOUND

But whatever the material, the standout pieces from the 69th Manila FAME edition, and in any edition, for that matter, are those with a narrative, told through imagination, innovation and craftsmanship.

That’s always a skill set worth showcasing, in whatever theme, for whichever audience. —CONTRIBUTED