Stephanie Kienle Gonzalez on how PH can penetrate global furniture market


Posted at Jun 03 2022 02:22 PM

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MANILA -- Stephanie Kienle Gonzalez believes that the Philippines can penetrate the global furniture market, but admitted that it would be a challenge.

In an interview on ANC's "Headstart" on Friday, the managing director of the local furniture company Philux noted that Filipinos are known for manufacturing quality products.

But she pointed out that more work needs to be done in promoting uniquely Filipino designs.

"We are known to be good manufacturers because we have such skilled labor. But being known for design itself is something that we need to push forward, that we have creatives as well," said Gonzalez, who recently launched a coffee table book titled "Embracing Natural Design." 

"It's not just the workforce behind it that follows trends from abroad, but that we can also initiate these trends and these designs. I think that's something that we can push forward even more," she added.

Gonzalez believes that authenticity plays an important role in penetrating the global furniture market, which has been dominated by Italian and American brands, among others.

She said Filipino creatives such as herself can learn a lot from the existing competition.

"It's all about keeping our authenticity and not forgetting that we are proudly Filipino," she said.

"I feel like that's always been at the heart of our company -- championing conscious Filipino craft that can be global. It's not forgetting that identity, really leveraging on that, and being dynamic," she explained. 

"I think competition is healthy, learning from these international brands, it's wonderful to step it up and try to take it to the next level."

When asked to describe modern Filipino furniture design, Gonzales replied: "I think it's really hard to define. When you say Filipino, a lot of the times people think it's rustic and native, but you can translate this aesthetic into something that is so contemporary and global."

"For instance, we recently were tasked to be the local design consultants of Louis Vuitton Manila. My sister and I helped them develop this Filipino design story and we collaborated with artisans... What we put together was so authentically Filipino... but you'll feel you're in a Louis Vuitton global store," she said. 

"You can convert these rustic and native materials into designs that are really a lot more innovative, and it's something I think that we can continue working on."