PH makes big statement with small items at this year's Maison & Objet fair

Marilyn Paed-Rayray, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 12 2019 05:23 PM | Updated as of Sep 12 2019 07:01 PM

PARIS, France - Philippine independent designers and manufacturers of decor, fashion and furniture are once again taking part in the premier international interior design trade fair Maison & Objet at the Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition Centre this month.

Kindred: A Design Collective, curated by Zacarias 1925 creative director Rita Nazareno and Gabby Lichauco of New Folk Collectives, brings together new work from the Philippines at Maison & Objet. 

Thirteen Philippine design brands -- CDO Handmade, CSM Philippines, E. Murio, Finali, HaloHalo, JB Woodcraft, Nature’s Legacy, Schema, South Sea Veneer, Tali Handmade, Vito Selma, Weave Manila and Zacarias 1925 -- are representing the country with a refined collection of world-class Filipino designs.

This year’s Philippine participation is different from the previous editions of Maison & Objet. 

“There’s that affinity and kinship that we have, and there’s also a certain aesthetic, there’s a contemporaneity. We are excited to highlight the products and the pieces; that’s why we have very simple, very straightforward booth design. I think that is how the products and the pieces are highlighted and the reaction has been really quite spectacular so far,” Nazareno said.

Added Anna Marie Alzona, Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) head for fashion and lifestyle division: “This time we want to focus on the object or product itself. As you can see, even the booth is simple. We would like to keep a minimalistic display of products to really highlight the material, the process and the design.” 

Chiqui Veneracion, Maison & Objet Philippine office representative, said Nazareno and Lichauco have put together small items instead of large pieces. 

“Usually, what we install here were more of furniture. But now, more small companies are given the opportunity to show their ‘objet’ as we would say here. These are beautiful, from different materials, different workmanship, and different manipulations that we have. Ang galing-galing naman talaga, at talagang maipagmamalaki natin,” Veneracion said.


With a cozy feel coming from suspended lamps, hanging decor, and objects installed in an affable manner, the Philippine booth takes pride in the craftsmanship of the handmade products. 

The 13 Philippine companies showcase a wide range of decor, fashion and furniture pieces made from handmade paper, veneer, fine bone china, tropical woods, rattan, bamboo, recycled plastic, agro-waste, galvanized iron, volcanic sand (lahar), abaca, and leather.

From cheeky designed vases and award-winning versatile home pieces like ottomans to vibrant, whimsical lighting fixtures and lush, elaborately carved mirror frames and candlestick holders, the exhibitors wowed the M&O stage with the creativity of these small and medium enterprises.

Known for geometrically patterned furniture, Vito Selma, a second-generation Cebu furniture manufacturer, believes that M&O is the proper venue to launch his new collection. 

“I am launching a new process that we created over the past two years. We developed a machine that actually eats up wood. So any piece of wood that we put inside this machine, it eats up all the soft wood and leaves out all the hard wood. That’s when all the textures of the pieces come out. And that is what we are trying to highlight in these pieces. It’s really the process and the material,” Selma said.

“This collection that I am launching is actually different because it is my first collection that is focused on home accessories and small objects. For this edition and collaboration with Kindred, I wanted to create smaller objects as I feel like the European market really enjoys smaller objects,” added Selma.

Pete Delantar, president of Nature’s Legacy which produces of innovative houseware made of unique materials like stonecast, agreed that M & O is a good platform to launch a product. 

“I think the Maison & Objet is the show where most of the creativity are shown. Some shows are very commercial, but this one is very creative. You must compete with the rest and show your creativity, be updated, together with the trend and not behind,” Delantar said. 


Four of the 13 participants — E. Murio, HaloHalo, JB Woodcraft and South Sea Veneer — are debut exhibitors at M & O. CITEM, the export promotion arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), believes that their presence at the trade fair will give them an opportunity to spawn exchange and progressively position themselves in the global design hub. 

The four design brands have become the showstoppers, giving the Philippine Pavilion new energy. Most of them are second- and third-generation exporters which means the kids are taking over the business from their parents. Skills of the old craftsman are being passed on to the younger generation who are responding to the prevailing market demand with more inventive, fresh and world-class designs.

JB Woodcraft of Pampanga has been known for traditional, intricately designed furnitures but for its debut at M & O, the company developed more contemporary products. 

“It’s more different from what we are used to, so we are quite excited with what M & O would bring in,” said Leslie Mendiola, JB Woodcraft’s associate marketing manager.

JB Woodcraft's sister company, South Sea Venner, on the other hand, is most known for its range of veneer inlay products. With their collaboration with Kindred at the M & O fair, South Sea Veneer has come up with small, modern home decor hand-made by their staff of Kapampangan artisans. 

“One thing that we’ve seen that the buyers are really interested in are our nesting trays made with volcanic sand, lahar from Pinatubo, casted in resin and wood covered in faux shagreen. It is something that has a very interesting story for our buyers,” Alona Bituin-Sinsuat, South Sea Veneer’s chief operating officer, said. 


The Philippines has gained a reputation in the global market for its innovative, streamlined, stylish, colorful and functional designs, the practice of sustainability and the use of indigenous materials that pays homage to traditional crafts.

Mohanned Al Bouijan, who owns the Iris House Department Store in Kuwait, has patronized Filipino products over the years. 

“I have been in this business for 30 years now. I have been going to the Philippines twice a year since like 15 or 17 years ago. It’s been a while. I am working with so may companies in the Philippines. They’re amazing on the timing, they’re amazing on the production, quality and design. So I am really satisfied very happy working with the Filipinos,” he said.

The same Philippine brands will also be showing at Manila FAME design and lifestyle event in the Philippines from October 17-19 at the World Trade Center in Pasay. — with reports from Cory de Jesus