Manila FAME: Celebrating Philippine design in style

T'nalak weaving in the Weaves of the Philippines special installation.

T’nalak weaving in the Weaves of the Philippines special installation.

The country’s design community, composed of seasoned artisans, creative entrepreneurs, and emerging design specialists, once again converged at the SMX Convention Center in the Mall of Asia Complex to showcase their unique and innovative creations in the recently concluded 59th edition of Manila FAME, the country’s much-awaited design and lifestyle event.

Organized by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the export promotions arm of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Manila FAME is a bi-annual showcase of craftsmanship, design innovation, eco-sustainability, and artisanship, featuring a wide array of certified, export-quality products such as furniture and furnishings, fashion apparel and accessories, holiday decor and gifts — all designed and crafted in the Philippines for the global market. It is held every March and October.

A hit among Manila FAME visitors was the Craftspots, set within the Weaves of the Philippines setting, where live demonstrations of traditional weaving gave local and international guests a glimpse into the country’s weaving heritage. The special installations showcased the piña of Aklan, abel of Ilocos Sur, t’nalak of South Cotabato, and the tikog

Tikog mat from Samar.

Tikog mat from Samar.

mat of Samar. Installation artist Patty Eustaquio, interior design duo Vernice Songco and Marga Espiritu, accessories designer Natalya Lagdameo, and interior designer Rossy Yabut-Rojales collaborated with local manufacturers and weaving communities to give the country’s traditional weaves a contemporary spin.

Inside the exhibition hall, the Red Box special setting attracted visitors, where young Filipino design talents displayed their design-savvy products which were carefully developed with local manufacturers and exporters, under the professional guidance of Manila FAME creative director Budji Layug, a leading name in the Philippine design and home industry, who believes that “good design is good business.” While previously focused only on the home design front, this year’s Red Box program has expanded to include designers representing the fashion, holiday décor and gifts, as well as the One Town One Product (OTOP) Marketplace sectors, offering local and international buyers a bevy of well-designed products.

The OTOP Marketplace offers export-quality arts and crafts items handmade by talented craftsmen from the regions. In photo: Tess and Boy Policarpio of Tap's Handmade from Leyte.

The OTOP Marketplace offers export-quality arts and crafts items handmade by talented craftsmen from the regions. In photo: Tess and Boy Policarpio of Tap’s Handmade Products from Leyte.

A joint project of CITEM and the DTI-Bureau of Domestic Trade (DTI-BDT), The One Town, One Product (OTOP) Marketplace presented design-forward arts and crafts products from select regions in the country, including the Yolanda-ravaged towns of the provinces of Leyte and Samar. Under this program, locally sourced materials used for these finely crafted items

were water hyacinth, bamboo, burnt wood, coconut, and a variety of natural fibers.

In the fashion scene, eye-catching apparel and fashion accessories made from indigenous materials were featured in Manila Wear, CITEM’s branding initiative that “aims to position the Philippine fashion industry in the tropical wear market segment, and push Philippine design and its unique sensibility that is better than the rest of Asia.” By the looks of it, the Manila Wear designers did a good job in pursuing this ambitious yet doable goal.

Exporters and designers were also recognized during the 59th Manila FAME through one of its show highlights, the Katha Awards, with VIP buyers from abroad and the local diplomatic corps members gracing the awarding ceremony and networking night. The Katha Awards, considered as the most prestigious award in the Philippine design scene, recognizes Philippine product design innovation and excellence. It encourages exporters to raise their design standards for Philippine export products and pursue a skillful exploration of new materials/processes.

The award-winning Bordeaux Chair by Industria Home Vico (Industria for his Bordeaux Chair (Best Product Design for Furniture).

The award-winning Bordeaux Chair by Industria Home (Best Product Design for Furniture).

The Katha Awardees for March 2014 are the following: Ann Pamintuan of The Gilded Expression for her crocheted hand bag with real twig (Best Product Design Award for Fashion); Roberto Borromeo of Navidad Crafts Export Corp. for his bird ornament with capiz wings (Best Product Design Award for Holiday Décor and Gifts); Miguel Aguas of MCAA Industrial Corp. for his Angler lamp (Best Product Design for Houseware and Furnishings); and Jude Tiotuico of Industria Home for his Bordeaux Chair (Best Product Design for Furniture). The Eco-Design Award, a special citation, went to Marivic Licardo of Floreia CVD Ventures, Inc. for her Poi necklace.

“Manila FAME is always about something new. The companies participate twice a year to present their latest product collections. Buyers come to Manila FAME to check out what’s fresh, exciting, and inspiring. But what’s sexy, in Budji’s words, about the 59th Manila FAME is the excitement provoked by the range and expansiveness of design ideas and materials presented,” said CITEM executive director Rosvi Gaetos.

Manila FAME is one of the longest running trade shows in the Asia Pacific, and is the only trade event in the country that has been approved by UFI (Union des Foires Internationales) or the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.

This coming October, the people behind Manila FAME are bracing for a bigger and bolder edition of the trade show as it welcomes international exhibitors.