Movement 8: All the right moves
- Ching M. Alano () - May 17, 2003 - 12:00am
It all started with a dream: To put a face on Filipino design. And now, that dream has turned to beautiful reality, thanks to visionaries Ely Pinto-Mansor, former executive director of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), and Budji Layug.

Ely Pinto-Mansor encapsulates it in these words: "The time has come for the Filipino designer to take his place among his foreign peers. We are launching a celebration of individuality by emphasizing the uniqueness of Filipino creativity. An image of a designing people is our message."

Thus, Movement 8 was born in 1999. It was the right time – and indeed it was just the right move. Composed of the country’s finest and choicest designers, the group sought to establish the Philippines as a serious player in the world’s high-end consumer market.

In the past, Filipino designers were not taken seriously as they were known for their penchant for embellishment, lack of formal training in design, and limited exposure to the international design market.

Movement 8 gave the image of the Filipino designer a makeover.

Why the name Movement 8?

The number 8 signifies eternity, which is what Movement 8 design is meant to be: Timeless in its elegance and sophistication.

Movement 8 also represents the Filipino designer’s eternal search for excellence.

Movement 8 is a coming together of the country’s many resources and talents. It is unity in diversity.

"Variety is what we offer the world," asserts Pinto-Mansor. "After all, we are known as a country of designers. Today, there is a movement towards an austere lifestyle. Form, line and function are thrown together in an aesthetic that’s sleek and simple. We can do that, too. Our designs mirror the soul of the East. Eclectic as our collections may be, we embody the totality of the modern way of life, with a difference."

Let’s follow the movement of Movement 8 and find out more about this versatile and peripatetic group whose moving spirits include Al Caronan, Kenneth Cobonpue, Carlo Cordaro, Tony Gonzales, Milo Naval, Ann Pamintuan, Tes Pasola, Luisa Robinson, and Renato Vidal with Budji Layug as curator.

It was a September affair to remember when Movement 8 participated at the Feria Internacional del Mueble in Valencia, Spain in 1999 – its maiden participation in an international furniture fair abroad as a group. Si, the Philippine participation was a huge success. And foreign buyers sat up and took notice – and craved for more of Filipino designs!

And our designers gave more – of their designs and of themselves as Movement 8 moved from one trade event to another, from one country to another to showcase the best of Pinoy ingenuity. "We always have in mind that we’re promoting the Philippines and the brilliant talents the country has," says Budji Layug with a hint of patriotic pride.

Moving in on the designers, let the designers describe their work in their own words:

Budji Layug:
"It is imperative that we make radical changes to mark the next millennium."

Kenneth Cobonpue:
"I want my work to be a reflection of the human soul."

"Designing for me is looking at nature with the purity and innocence of a child. There you find perfect visual qualities and relationships that are waiting to be transformed into man-made objects."

Tony Gonzales:
"Sensitivity gives me perspective."

Milo Naval:
"My designs represent a mentality, an attitude, not style."

Carlo Cordaro:
"Ambience is a must for a creation to be a masterpiece."

Ann Pamintuan:
"My creations are expressions of life’s raw elegance."

Tes Pasola:
"My agenda is to break set givens."

Luisa Robinson:
"... Only let us take hold of the root and not worry about the branches. Understand the nature of things and create from within."

Design connoisseurs agree that: "Movement 8 is all about a modern point-of-view, redefining tradition, bridging continents and spanning the millennia. It is the distillation of influences, a convergence of the cerebral and the emotional."

They note that Movement 8 designs share the common traits of "restraint, sophistication and an economy of embellishment. Sparse simplicity makes the most of textural detail, form and proportion, allowing the purity of design and flawless craftsmanship to assume greater importance and an integrity of their own. Clean-lined yet not severely minimalist, the pieces speak to the emotions and seduce the senses, always incorporating an original twist."

In the year 2000, to welcome a new millennium, Movement 8 went back to Valencia, Spain where it all started. Indeed, it has come full circle to set the style trend and change the way the world views Filipino design.

The following year, Movement 8 won the much-coveted Editor’s Award for Craftsmanship at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. More awards followed, like the G-Mark (Good Design Award) given by the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization to products that excel in design, quality, function, and performance.

Only last April, Movement 8 was at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, Italy. Here, Movement 8 introduced refreshing designs articulating the current trends and using the best of Philippine indigenous materials (see photos on this spread and be dazzled). The furniture and home accessories are simple, uncluttered and soothing: The stress is on wellness and relaxation, drawing inspiration from the earth, with refined shapes that create a serene landscape indoors or outdoors and satisfy the emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being of the homeowner.

Philippine furniture has, indeed, come a long, long way. Only a few years ago, the Philippines was merely a source of raw materials. Today, it manufactures home furniture and accessories which find their way into high-end retail shops around the world.

Despite the global crises and challenges, the Philippine furniture industry posted total exports valued at US$316 million last year, up by 5.6 percent compared to 2001 figures. The bulk of the sales came from the wood and rattan products (38.61 percent and 30.64 percent, respectively).

USA is still the country’s biggest market at $190.82 million, comprising 66 percent of our total furniture exports. After US, there’s Japan at $18.11 million; Great Britain and Northern Ireland, $7.87 million; and Australia, $6.1 million.

Likewise, our furniture seems to be doing well in the Middle East, where the biggest increase has been noted: Last year, exports to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates totalled $5.86 million and $4.4, respectively, up by 30.68 percent and 21.23 percent, respectively, vis-a-vis 2001 figures.

Stunning, isn’t it? For us, watching a Movement 8 show is always a moving experience.

ANN PAMINTUAN BUDJI LAYUG CARLO CORDARO DESIGN ELY PINTO-MANSOR FILIPINO FURNITURE KENNETH COBONPUE LUISA ROBINSON MOVEMENT
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