Zweet Sixteen, does exactly that—it celebrates the irreverence of Pinoy graphic novel icon Zsazsa Zaturnnah and its 16th anniversary.
For the uninitiated, award-winning artist Carlo Vergara’s Zsazsa Zaturnnah is the superhero alter ego of an ordinary person named Ada, the gay owner of a humble salon in an equally humble town. Upon ingesting a huge rock from outer space, Ada transforms into Zaturnnah, who is endowed with superpowers that enable her to help people in need. She has, of course, a love interest: the dreamy, oft- shirtless Dodong; and nemesis, Queen Femina and her team of Amazonistas who all hail from another planet.
Whether you’ve read the graphic novel or not yet, you’ll surely feel like you’ve entered the world that all these characters live in once you enter the gallery and see all the furniture pieces, which the Space Encounters team dressed like Ada’s parlor mixed with intergalactic elements. How did they do that? The team shares the story behind Zweet Sixteen:
1| Who were involved in the design process? Did Zsazsa Zaturnnah creator Carlo Vergara get involved in the making of this collection?
Carlo let us take the reins and was generous enough to supply the images we needed to produce the entire collection.
Wilmer Lopez was at the helm of the creative direction for the entire exhibit. Space Encounters’ interior designers pulled everything together: Gelo Cruz supervised the production of the furniture pieces, and Neil Escarez oversaw the interiors and layout. Junior interior designers Mic Pena and Natasha Llorente sourced the fabric and took charge of producing the cheeky pillows, respectively. Meanwhile, Alex Emocling and Mylo De Borja (both are graphic artists) were the ones who did all the graphic design.
2| What inspired you to create a collection featuring Zsazsa Zaturnnah?
Wilmer and Thor (Balanon) have been fans of Zaturnnah ever since the comic book came out. The idea of coming up with a furniture collection that pays homage to this local comic icon was so appealing that we had to make it happen. If we’re not mistaken, it’s the first time that a local furniture brand has done something like this. And since there’s Space Encounters Gallery, we thought of bringing the two entities together (the gallery and the furniture brand, Space Encounters) to bring Zaturnnah to life in the form of chairs, tables, and home décor. We also invited artists Rene Cuvos, Norlie Meimban, Buen Abrigo, JC Peñaflorida, Burn Aquino, Fitz Herrera, Irish Galon, Amos Malayao, Merlito Gepte, and Teofilo Alagao Jr. to interpret Zaturnnah in their own style. Seeing how they came up with different ideas was really exciting for us.
Also, Zaturnnah has been a symbol for non-conformity. She challenges the norms especially on behalf of the LGBTQ community. She’s not afraid to do that. Her character resonated with us as designers. We can’t always just go with the flow; it’s fun to shake things up a bit every now and then.
3| What factors did you consider when designing and producing the furniture pieces? What materials did you use predominantly?
We wanted the furniture pieces and the accessories to embody the characteristics of the graphic novel’s lead characters: the femininity and strength of Zaturnnah, the fabulous malice of Femina and the Amazonistas, the humility of Ada, and, well, the physique of Dodong. The result was a play of colors and shapes that aimed to define the different personalities of the characters. We mostly used wood on the furniture but played around with finishes. We also printed directly on wallpaper, wood, and on fabric. The neon lamps, which are quotes from the book, were fashioned from LED so they’re safe for home use. The Zaturnnah sculpture is cast in resin by famous sculptor Merlito Gepte.
4| How would you describe the design process with this collection as compared to your previous ones?
This is the first time that we are designing furniture based on fictional characters—superheroes to be specific. This is also the first time that each piece has a distinct personal trait. For example, while we were designing the Femina chair, we would step back and think: Is it evil and alien and fabulous enough? The design process was both fun and challenging because we wanted to balance the pop culture aspect with the midcentury trademark of Space Encounters. We didn’t want the line to be novelty. We wanted it fun but still professional and expertly made.
5| What can the customers expect after this collaboration? Will there be more collaborations like this in the future?
We live for the moment when it comes to collections and we consciously don’t like repeating ourselves. But this collaboration did make us realize that if ever we do get into another collaboration in the future, we want it to be as exciting, as creative, and as irreverent as Zweet Sixteen.
Space Encounters Gallery is located at Unit 7D, 7/F Padilla Bldg., F. Ortigas Jr. Rd., Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Contact [email protected] or 0917-7956739 for more information.
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