Ito Kish (Philippines)
SINCE 2000, interior designer Ito Kish has been running a thriving design consultancy and furniture store called KISH in Makati City in the Philippines. Until one day, an intern asked him, “Sir, which piece of furniture here did you design?”
“I was dumbfounded because there was nothing in the store I could proudly say I had designed,” says Kish through e-mail. Spurred by that incident, Kish, 50, took a stab at furniture design.
It took nine months of hard work before his design concept saw the light of day in 2012. The debut of the Gregoria Lounge, a semi-circular three-seater lounge with a backrest and legs made of wooden balusters, was an instant success. It snagged the Best Product Design for Furniture honours at Manila’s biannual design showcase, FAME. The same year, the Gregoria clinched silver in Italy’s A’Design Award & Competition. At the Gwangju Design Biennale in South Korea, the Gregoria was featured in the exhibit Icons Of Asia.
“Gregoria (named after his mother) is inspired by the near omnipresence of balusters in the homes Filipinos grew up in,” explains Kish. “From its humble beginnings as seating and storage, to ventanillas that allow air to flow in and out of homes, to decorative details in staircases – the baluster is now given a new twist to be appreciated by a new generation.” Following Gregoria’s
coup de maitre, Kish added five other pieces – a one-seater, candle stand, cabinet, bookshelves and console – to the collection and named the pieces after his mother’s five sisters.
“They were all part of that beautiful era of the Philippines when tradition and culture were given a front line,” he adds.
His Basilisa collection of chairs, bed and cabinet showcases the solihiya, intricate weave patterns fashioned from rattan slats that create a lovely play of light, pattern and shadow. The solihiya weaves can be traced back to pre-Spanish colonial times and some of the patterns originated from Philippines’s indigenous tribes.
“My design will always be about who I am and where I come from,” Kish asserts. “I cannot design anything that is pop culture because I’m sure what is pop in Kuala Lumpur is the same in Paris or Copenhagen.” (Website: kish.ph – under construction at press time.)