Alessa Lanot of Life After Breakfast is known for her sampaguita and waling-waling designs (top and below)
How to make ‘Lokal’ design global? It begins at home
GLOSS THE RECORD - Marbbie Tagabucba (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2019 - 12:00am

Alessa Lanot makes the sampaguita and waling-waling — flowers symbolic of the Philippines —bloom on fabrics

The handmade movement doesn’t have to be cutesy or craftsy all the time,” says Alessandra Libongco-Lanot, in charge of creative direction for the Department of Trade and Industry’s micro-, small-, and medium-enterprise retail concept store Go Lokal and arts and crafts shop Common Room’s collaboration line. The collection Balai illustrates her point.

DTI Go Lokal x Common Room’s Alessa Lanot: “This is showing our local manufacturers and craftsmen that an aesthetic that will appeal to an international market can be done with our skills and materials.”

Balai — which means “home” in Bisayan dialects — is a line of home accessories by eight Common Room crafter-entrepreneurs: wooden clocks by Anna Zavalla of Rawtura, honeycomb concrete moss planters by Marvz Conti of Habil Crafts, wooden platters by Sustainably Made and ceramics by Iori Espiritu, soaps and room scents by Lala de Leon of Simoy ng Haraya, hand-silkscreen-printed fabric bins by Sheina and Andrei Tobias of Hocus Manila, hand-silkscreen-printed pillows by Common Room co-owners Roma Agsunod and Maan Agsalud under their label Popjunklove, and kitchen linens by Alessa under her brand Life After Breakfast, all in three styles bearing Philippine iconography and handmade with local materials complemented by a contemporary, modern take. Whether purchased as pasalubong for a friend based abroad or to spruce up your own space, they wouldn’t look out of place in a mid-century-style abode halfway across the world as the last touch of hygge.

Common Room co-owner Roma Agsunod: “The focus is to show the wide range of skill sets among young makers.”

“The minimalist aesthetic appeals to a wider market. We have products that cater not only to women but also to men. We design for mindful living. We want to create local handmade products that can be incorporated into that kind of lifestyle,” Alessa explains. “DTI brought pieces from this collection to Japan last month for the Good Design Marunouchi and Good Design Store Tokyo by Nohara showcase.”

Fabric bin by Sheina and Andrei Tobias of Hocus Manila

Roma elaborates, “We looked for brand partners who already have home collections and a minimalist aesthetic. The focus is to show the wide range of skill sets among young makers. We don’t want to be caged in by this notion that young makers can only do cute stuff.”

She adds, “These makers already have their own business. They know which items will move better so it’s different from those who just make but don’t know what’s marketable.”

Pillows by Roma and Maan Agsalud of Popjunklove

Throughout the collection are Alessa’s line art illustrations of flowers symbolic of the Philippines: sampaguita and waling-waling. The use of clean lines and natural brushstrokes are a departure from her signature vividly vibrant flourish in surface pattern designs using watercolor and modern calligraphy that has adorned everything from Havaianas flip-flops to Toblerone chocolate and Sanicare sanitizers as collaborations. Presented to the makers as hand-carved wooden stamps, the look and medium give each maker room for play.

Exclusive “Hardin” room scent by Lala de Leon of Simoy ng Haraya

“As a designer, I am always thinking of the purpose of each design, where it will be placed as opposed to being an artist who works from inspiration. When it comes to conceptualizing, it begins with a few meetings with the team and I come up with the design in about a week,” she shares.

Alessa is an erstwhile Young STAR writer and started her Quezon City-based LifeAfterBreakfast design studio and creative lifestyle brand as a blog in October 2011. Now, she juggles designing custom surface patterns, offering watercolor and calligraphy workshops, hosting intimate maker gatherings and offering travel-sized handmade art tools with being a restaurateur alongside her husband PJ Lanot and the Pino Group of Restaurants, offering delicious choices for vegetarians like herself. Hitting two birds with one stone, her workshops and creative gatherings are held in their restaurants Pipino Veg (a vegetarian restaurant located in Teacher’s Village), Pi Breakfast & Pies (also in Teachers Village with a The Grove by Rockwell branch), and Hillside Cafe & Juice Bar (located along Mother Ignacia Avenue in Quezon City). By using homegrown produce, even in Alessa’s restaurants, she champions all things local.

Wooden clocks by Anna Zavalla of Rawtura

Common Room’s collaboration with Go Lokal is conceptualized with the goal of bringing in more people, but Alessa visualizes it to be something bigger. “This is showing our local manufacturers and craftsmen that an aesthetic that will appeal to an international market can be done with our skills and materials. More young designers coming out and creating their own way means it will be easier to scale later on with the local craftsmen.”

Wooden platters by Sustainably Made and ceramics by Iori Espiritu

Go Lokal and Common Room launched their collaboration with The Souvenir Collection in July featuring trinkets of “things that make Filipinos happy,” as the girls describe it, such as bead bracelets in halo-halo colors and pins depicting the MRT, all expressed with youthful quirk.

Banaue Rice Terraces honeycomb concrete moss planter by Marvz Conti of Habil Crafts

Planning to buy in bulk? “We can always ask the makers to restock. They manufacture these and they already have the materials to reproduce,” Roma says. “We are constantly changing our makers and collections. We already have new collections lined up.”

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DTI x Common Room’s Balai collection is available exclusively at the Go Lokal concept store, DTI building, Gil Puyat, Makati; GoLokalxCommonRoom outlet in Glorietta 2, Ayala Center, Makati; and NAIA3 Kiss&Fly until May.

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