Layered with surreal images painted over mismatched checks and stripes, these quirky wingback chairs can offset a bland room. Yet, the designer, Concepcion “Connie” Macatuno, wants to produce unique and functional furniture that are meant to be lived in. Similarly, her table lamps make powerful statement pieces while softly illuminating a room.
“My furniture are meant to be accents,” she said. “Customers connect with something that is unusual and that would bring joy into their spaces.”
Macatuno is famous for directing “The Broken Marriage Vow,” a local reworking of the British drama series, “Dr. Forster,” which became a medium to showcase Filipino artisanship in production design. It has since won six major awards in the Asian Academy Creative Awards 2022, including Best Adaptation of an Existing Format for the local color.
Between production schedules, she’s at the helm of her brand Lokal Home+Art+Fashion, which stands out for the signature collage look imbued with original, hand-painted artworks illustrated by her son Caxantino “Cax” Corona and executed by Macatuno.
“It’s about things for the home and for the self, infused with art,” she says.
Patchwork of memories
In 2010, Lokal started with T-shirts painted with Cax’s artworks that were sold at a stall in Sunday Legazpi Market. The boy was pushing 7 years old then. “He showed innate talent and intuitive sense of color,” his mom recalled.
Over time, Cax drew inspiration from books, music and films and painted faces from what he saw. The mother-and-son then started painting on stools and foldable wooden chairs. The pieces were built from salvaged wood from old houses
Visitors to her house started to request similar styles for their houses. At the living room, the couch upholstered with a patchwork of old denims serves as the focal point.
“It’s a patchwork of mine and my son’s happy memories. I believe in upcycling, making do with found objects and using handwork,” Macatuno said.
Eventually, she ventured into stylized wing chairs with high backs and cushy seats. Their mahogany frameworks and upholstery application were rendered by a furniture supplier. Buyers comment that they are enveloped by the curvaceous silhouette and plush upholstery. They end up requesting matching foot stools.
When Lokal joined the first-ever ArteFino in 2017, 10 wingback chairs were sold in a short span of time. Three years ago, celebrity customer Marian Rivera bought a wing chair painted with a nude dryad. Her son, by then 16, produced Lokal’s collection of nudes. “They were innocent-looking and more ethereal than sexy. He painted them like nymphs,” added Macatuno.
At the recent ArteFino and Habi fairs, Lokal produced a collection of wing chairs that were upholstered with a mix of striped fabrics from the Sagada region, modern checkered fabrics by a community from Marawi City and denim with hand-painted and hand-blocked design.
A conversation piece, the surrealist chair was highlighted by Cax’s portrait of Salvador Dali and motifs of the ears of his favorite surrealists—Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, Joan Miro and Dali. Their ears were combined to evoke butterfly wings.
Other chairs were enlivened with hand-blocked patterns of the prosperity sign and mountain motifs from Sagada, and ice cream bars, reminiscent of Macatuno’s bonding with Cax over Magnum. A floral chair with hand-blocked sampaguita patterns and crocheted rosal on the back referenced the flowering plants in her garden.
Macatuno suggests to doctors and lawyers to place the wing chairs in their clinics or offices. “It eases up a nervous person,” she said.
Free-form crochet on lamps
A hand-painted impression of Audrey Hepburn on dark denim contrasted the bold redness of a Kalinga-striped fabric that accentuated a bed bench. The rest of the denim background was littered with hand-blocked images of the Tour Eiffel.
“You can put the bench beside a window or against a wall and pile up pillows so you can lie down or read on it,” she added.
The lamps have become unconventional design elements that add drama in a way that can’t compete with furniture and art. Lokal’s recent collection consists of lamps with vintage balusters. One canvas lampshade with a body from a salvaged spindle baluster was been made for a woman’s room. Its focal point: a breast floating against a psychedelic background.
“I want people who appreciate unusual elements to spruce up a space,” she said.
Upon a suggestion from a client, the designer collaborated with a crochet hobbyist. Free-form crochets draped on the lamp’s body added texture and lent a sculptural effect. “Crochet is traditional but the free form is contemporary. I wanted to introduce this craft to the Gen Z. I like mix of old and new.”
Asked why Macatuno is as passionate about Lokal as she is with the TV hit series, she explains, “This is an avenue where you can create something wherein no one is dictating on how you are going to make it.”