“Kasaysayan: A Retrospective of Cebu Design”
Yasunari Ramon Suarez Taguchi (The Freeman) - June 27, 2018 - 10:47pm

CEBU, Philippines — As a furniture exhibit, “Kasaysayan: A Retrospective of Cebu Design” lets its featured pieces do all the talking – allowing tables and chairs with the opportunity to lead in “sit down discussions” on Cebu’s creative design timeline.

Presented by the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation and slated to run until September in SM Seaside City, the show sets the spotlight on notable Cebuano-made furniture and furnishings that have contributed to the Cebu’s furniture industry. The exhibited pieces embody Cebu’s standing as the “design capital of the Philippines.”

It’s a highlight of the 2018 Cebu Business Month’s calendar of events.

“Peacock Chair”

by Castilex Industrial Corporation, circa 1970

The “Peacock Chair” is claimed to be an original design from the Philippines, notably playing a role in the country’s furniture design history since the 1800s.

In the 1970s, versions of the chair made from “buri” (the midrib of the raffia palm) became increasingly popular, with various local furniture makers exporting buri-based variants of the chair to the United States and Europe. The 1974-established Castilex Industrial Corporation was one of the many firms that crafted buri-based versions of the chair.

“Match Chair”

designed by Rene Ybañez; manufactured by Obra Cebuana, 2016

Cebu’s furniture makers are known for their artisanal craftsmanship, defined by detail-rich handcrafted pieces that are made with indigenous materials. Obra Cebuana’s “Match Chair,” exemplifies this tradition of superior Cebuano craftsmanship.

“Bilibid Lounge Chair”

by Mehitabel

During the American Period, the Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa became the site of a rehabilitation program that trained inmates in practical crafts and trades; furniture-making being one of many. Mehitabel’s “Bilibid Lounge Chair” is based on one of the pieces made by inmates who were part of the rehabilitation program.

“Bella Chair”

designed by Arthur Edwards, circa 1970

In the 1970s, furniture design in the West drew inspiration from then-ongoing pop-culture trends, mostly blending Art Deco standards with various modernist art and design movements. The same aesthetic trend took place in the Philippines at the time, with furniture pieces like the “Bella Chair.”

“Vitruvian Chair”

designed by Debbie Palao; manufactured by Design Ventures Cebu, Inc., 1994

In 1990, Design Ventures Cebu Inc. exhibited its first furniture and furnishings collections at the Philippine Furniture Fair in Metro Manila, introducing its pieces that embody the linear simplicity of western design merged with the “wabi-sabi” aesthetic of the East.

In 1994, the firm’s “Vitruvian Chair” was featured on the cover of the fall edition of the International Home Furnishings Market Resource Guide in Highpoint, North Carolina, USA.

“Delfino Chair”

designed by Andrew Delfino; manufactured by Mehitabel for the McGuire Furniture Company, 1967

Famed for embodying the “Far East styling” aesthetic, the “Delfino Chair” was a piece commissioned by the San Francisco-based McGuire Furniture Company. It was designed by Andrew Delfino and its production began in the 1960s and went on until the 1980s.

“Maitland-Smith Cabinet”

designed and manufactured by Paul Maitland-Smith, 1986

In 1982, antique dealer and furniture maker Paul Maitland-Smith opened a furniture factory in Cebu – a facility which made furniture pieces with old-world crafting processes and techniques. The facility was a Cebu pioneer in manufacturing home furniture and fixtures that combined complex marquetry, Verre Églomisé, crackle finishes and metal casting processes.

“Sculpture cast in aluminum on stainless steel base”

designed by Paul Maitland-Smith, manufactured by CYMRU Fine Furniture

Cast metal masks and sculptures are among the classic elements of traditional Art Deco interiors, elements which local furniture and home accent makers have taken a hand in molding to form.

“Checkered Stone Inlay Table”

designed by Guido Lubanga, manufactured by Stonesets for Casa Bique, USA, 1989

Some 25 years ago, Stonesets began manufacturing detailed furniture pieces made of coral stone and soft marble quarried from the Philippines. The table on display in the “Kasaysayan” exhibit is an example of stone-inlaid tables that were very popular in the 1980s.

KASAYSAYAN
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