‘Heritage in Bloom’: Celebrating the Growth of Local Sustainable Design

April 22, 2024

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By 

Elle Yap

Alliance Française de Manille launched Heritage in Bloom, a new exhibit that highlights three modern Filipino design brands and how they breathe new life into old traditions. 

The exhibit’s launch on April 18 showcased the three heritage brands in question and their different products and design processes in the system. Beyond the finished products themselves, the exhibit took visitors through the step-by-step process of creating the fabric and weaving it into bags or dresses, portraying the craft of creating all of this by hand. 

Different types of threads. Photo by Elle Yap.
Different types of threads. Photo by Elle Yap.
Large weaving loom with fabric on the machine. Photo by Elle Yap.
Large weaving loom with fabric on the machine. Photo by Elle Yap.
Small weaving loom with threads on the side. Photo by Elle Yap.
Small weaving loom with threads on the side. Photo by Elle Yap.
A weaving loom. Photo by Elle Yap.
A weaving loom. Photo by Elle Yap.

Artifeks:

The company Artifeks:, led by Clair Concepcion Barberis, prides itself in their modernization of old Filipino concepts like the lounge chair and the table. The company utilizes materials like fiberglass to create stronger versions of these products, and leaves as little waste behind in the process as possible. 

Barberis said that the use of fiberglass and resin on their products are environmentally sustainable because of the recyclable nature of the materials. She accentuated the durability of their products, and how they work with different artisans to create handmade furniture that utilizes the heritage of Filipino craftsmanship without being bogged down by it. 

A circular chair shown in "Heritage in Bloom." Photo by Elle Yap.
A lounging chair made by Artifeks. Photo by Elle Yap.
A lounging chair made by Artifeks. Photo by Elle Yap.
A lounging chair made by Artifeks. Photo by Elle Yap.
A lounging chair made by Artifeks. Photo by Elle Yap.
Tables made by Artifeks from recycled materials shown at "Heritage in Bloom." Photo by Elle Yap.
Tables made by Artifeks from recycled materials shown at “Heritage in Bloom.” Photo by Elle Yap.

The company highlighted the durability and sustainability of their efforts with specially-made tables that utilizes the scrap or leftover materials of old projects. It puts their commitment to sustainable development at the forefront. More than that, it portrays the craftsmanship needed to create every design by hand.

Kanya

Meanwhile, textile company Kanya highlights the importance of their products as both locally-sourced and adhering to fabric-making traditions in the country. Bea Roxas and her company features not just the diverse amount of bag designs that they have, but also the process of creating the core fabrics at its center. 

Kanya processes sugarcane plants through an old artisan tradition to create fabric and yarn. This is then used to create handmade artisanal apparel personally woven by over forty weavers employed by the company. 

Two bags from Kanya displayed under a lamp. Photo by Elle Yap.
Two bags from Kanya displayed under a lamp. Photo by Elle Yap.

“Kanya’s sugarcane textiles transcend mere fabric,” the company said in their write-up for the event. “They are living embodiments of their connection to the Earth and their ancestors’ wisdom.”

Some of the bags selection of Kanya for "Heritage in Bloom." Photo by Elle Yap.
Some of the bags selection of Kanya for “Heritage in Bloom.” Photo by Elle Yap.

The bags were highlighted during the event, with their knotted design that allows one to hang on a bag securely without the need for buttons and zippers. They come in limited supplies and different colors, including yellow, orange, and red.  

Maison Métisse

Local company Maison Métisse utilizes traditional design to create dresses and other wearable clothing. Headed by founder Adrienne Charuel, their focus is on weaving traditional clothes with ethically-sourced and sustainable materials that not only respects, but contributes to the broader Filipino tradition of textile wear. 

“Rooted in reverence for nature, Maison Métisse integrates eco-conscious principles into every step of its creative process,” their write-up said. 

Some of the designs of Maison Métisse. Photo by Elle Yap.
Some of the designs of Maison Métisse. Photo by Elle Yap.
Flower design done via hammer and plants. Photo by Rick Formalejo.
Flower design done via hammer and plants. Photo by Rick Formalejo.
Hammer-flower design booth by Maison Métisse. Photo by Elle Yap.
Hammer-flower design booth by Maison Métisse. Photo by Elle Yap.
Different materials used by Maison Métisse. Photo by Elle Yap.
Different materials used by Maison Métisse. Photo by Elle Yap.

They featured one of their processes prominently during the exhibit, as artisans from the company guided visitors on how Maison Métisse uses hammers and plants to imprint differently-colored flower designs on the fabric. The table showcased the materials used by the company, from the powders to the plants used in the process.  

Promoting Safe and Sustainable Philippine Design

Attendees from "Heritage in Bloom" opening. Photo by Rick Formalejo.
Attendees from “Heritage in Bloom” opening. Photo by Rick Formalejo.

Heritage in Bloom hopes to promote these local artisan brands as a way of showcasing how we can pursue internationally-competitive handmade brands without losing our cultural traditions. The exhibit highlights not only the artwork, but the ethical, sustainable process behind it that makes it inherently Filipino. It shows that it’s not just about buying local, but buying ethical products that sustain our country’s unique culture.

Related reading: In Bloom: 5 Flower Arrangements for Different Occasions

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