The two sides of Ito Kish are in great display in his expanded new space in J.P. Rizal Makati: the designer side and the visual merchandiser side. And we’re happy to report he remains brilliant in both.
The guy certainly knows how to draw attention—whether it’s in the award-winning products he creates, or the visual stories he tells via furniture, decor and various interior elements. After all, wasn’t he stopping people from their tracks for a while with his fantastic windows back when he had a sprawling 350-sqm. space in Greenbelt?
While his latest warehouse space is a lot more hidden—only a brown gate with the number 1120 painted on it will tell you you’ve arrived—it shows he still knows how to press people’s pause buttons. The question “How are you today?” greets guests before they step into a dark vestibule with a museum-like display of souvenirs from the designer’s latest travel, in this case it’s pickings from a trip to Dubai. The room makes you ask if you’ve entered the wrong door, which will soon be followed by “how do I get out of here?” But you’ll get the answers soon enough.
You’ll realize too after that the room actually sets the tone for the first half of this immersive experience into the Ito Kish universe—which is a showcase of the stuff he’s brought home from design fairs (many from the biannual Maison et Objet shows in Paris), specialty stores, and flea markets abroad. The space is a maze of vignettes composed of midcentury modern furniture, organic modern pieces, woven mats, coffee table books from Phaidon, vintage-looking tableware, and quirky ceramic finds from Sicily.
There are doses of gloss and polish but it seems organic and natural surfaces dominate, especially on the new 165-sqm. wing which has been devoted to a kind of Kish retrospective—here his most successful and award-winning designs take center stage, from his Gregoria chairs (named after his mother, a public school teacher, and distinguished by rows of wooden balusters usually found in Spanish colonial Filipino homes) to his Basilisa pieces (characterized by the use of solihiya, and the coming together of “strong shapes and delicate details”) to his Semana cabinet (a console and storage fixture in one made into a conversation piece, thanks to the mother-of-pearl cross spread over a tubular, curvaceous surface).
Earlier this year, Kish marked his 10th anniversary designing furniture, and no doubt this new space will make for another milestone in a career that’s seen it’s share of openings and closings, ups and downs. (It’s a great place to visit on a weekend, to shop in or just to take inspiration from). The boy from San Pablo, Laguna has surely come a long way, from the time he operated his Urban Effects store in his Parañaque three-bedroom home, selling an entire container’s worth of furniture hauled from his time in Indonesia.
Through it all, a few things have remained constant: his eye for beauty, his instinctive ability to spin stories through objects, and a style that, believe it or not, is anchored in practicality and the timeless appeal of simplicity. So how is Ito Kish today? We dare say he’s in a very good place.