In the News: Philippine furniture takes world stage

By: Tessa Prieto-Valdes – Columnist / @Inq_Lifestyle | Philippine Daily Inquirer


Mejore’s Makati retail showroom comes with a complete line of home furniture as well as carefully curated decors, accessories, lamps, painting and rugs.

 

Philippine furniture design has evolved in the last three decades. From the traditional resort-style giant bamboo sofas and dining chairs, newer furniture pieces have transformed into more contemporary and fluid lines.

World-class designs executed with materials indigenous to our country have made our local furniture pieces a sensation in the international market. Filipino flair means combining the artistry of the Filipino craftsman with the unique tensile and flexible quality of local materials like bamboo and rattan.

Cebu furniture designers like Vito Selma and Kenneth Cobonpue have been pushing the boundaries of traditional styles. Through the decades, they have created and refined their signature style, such that their designs are now recognized in the international furniture industry.

One of Selma’s most popular works is the Cara-Boo, a Filipino take on the classic child’s rocking horse. It features a carabao tied to a handy storage box, an idea that stemmed from Selma’s carefree days as a child. Today, the globally recognized artist is looking for more ways to innovate his signature aesthetic. He works with both local and international businesses to create experimental furniture pieces that truly stand out.

Mejore vows to continue its innovative approach to its products to cater to the needs of the market.

 

Cebuano Kenneth Cobonpue was dubbed by Time magazine as “rattan’s first virtuoso” back in 2007. His world-class designs have attracted prominent clients from around the world, including members of the royal family and Hollywood stars like Ocean’s 11 actor Brad Pitt. Cobonpue has also earned a number of international accolades. He continues to create his signature designs using materials native to the Philippines like bamboo and carbon fiber.

For the past three decades, Mejore Woodworks has seen the transformation of Philippine furniture design. Through the years, it has developed a team of skilled craftsmen and engineers in the art of furniture making. The company prides itself in maintaining consistency in quality and its innovative approach in developing unique products.

After several years of hiatus in the retail market, Mejore, the beloved furniture company of the ’80s and ’90s, quietly opened its Makati retail showroom in July 2017 with a home lifestyle concept store. The shop comes with a complete line of home furniture as well as carefully curated decors, accessories, lamps, painting and rugs.

All the furniture items in the store are proudly manufactured in the Philippines by the company’s team of in-house craftsmen and engineers who have mastered woodworking and furniture making for more than three decades. Mejore also prides itself in sourcing local materials and incorporating traditional Filipino woven design patterns that make use of rattan, abaca and raffia, among others.

With its re-entry in the retail industry, Mejore vows to continue its innovative approach to its products to cater to the needs of the market. It recently launched the Nathalie collection, a small line of furniture that reflects a departure from the more traditional and elaborately finished furniture it was once known for. The Valeria Sofabed, for example, is a streamlined and elegant-looking two-seater sofa that transforms into a queen-sized bed. The design is a direct response to the changing market preference for sleeker looking furniture that can fit into smaller spaces. Similarly, the Leonor daybed, evokes a timeless design that draws elements from traditional Filipino weaving techniques, but incorporating a more contemporary look with its elegant curves.

As Mejore’s retail business picks-up from where it left off several years ago, the company looks back to the time when Jose Ong and his daughter-in-law Nathalie founded the company in 1983. At that time, with over 20 years of supplying raw materials to the wood industry, they dreamed of not only supplying wood but also creating unique products that that can be appreciated and enjoyed by homeowners.

In its early days, the company forged several partnerships with US-based companies to manufacture and export its products to renowned companies such as Lane Venture, Henredon, Hickory Chair, Habersham and EJ Victor.

Its subsequent absence from the retail scene in the past decade however allowed itself to continue to hone its craft by servicing the local contract market, snagging big projects with clients such as Amanpulo, Henan Resorts, The Lind Boracay and Somerset Alabang.

Today, Mejore is managed and operated by third-generation owners, Claire and Lorraine Ong, sisters working in tandem to keep their family’s legacy alive. As such, while the designs and aesthetics of the furniture pieces may have evolved, Mejore’s heritage for creating export-quality and luxurious pieces remains part of each of the item in its product portfolio.

Mejore’s showroom is at the ground floor of Filipino Building, at 135 Dela Rosa corner Legaspi Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati City. Follow Mejore on their Instagram account, @mejore_ph.

Originally Published: Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:43 AM December 08, 2018

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