Ito Kish (Philip­pines)

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SPACES -

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: – un­der con­struc­tion at press time.)

Mir­rah wardrobe

basil­isa three-seater.

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