MANILA — Stephanie Kienle Gonzalez believes the Philippines can break into the global furniture market, but admitted it would be a challenge.
In an interview on ANC’s “Headstart” on Friday, the general manager of local furniture company Philux noted that Filipinos are known for making quality products.
But she pointed out that there is still work to be done to promote unique Filipino designs.
“We’re known for being good makers because we have such a skilled workforce. But being known for the design itself is something that we have to push forward, that we have creatives as well,” said Gonzalez, who recently launched a coffee table book titled “Embracing Natural Design.”
“It’s not just the workforce behind following the trends from overseas, but we can also initiate those trends and designs. I think that’s something we can push forward even further” , she added.
Gonzalez believes authenticity plays an important role in penetrating the global furniture market, which has been dominated by Italian and American brands, among others.
She said Filipino creatives like her can learn a lot from the existing competition.
“It’s about keeping our authenticity and not forgetting that we are proudly Filipino,” she said.
“I feel like that’s always been at the core of our business – championing conscious Filipino craftsmanship that can be global. It’s not about forgetting that identity, leveraging that and being dynamic,” she explained.
“I think the competition is healthy, learning from these international brands, it’s wonderful to step it up and try to take it to the next level.”
When asked to describe modern Filipino furniture design, Gonzales replied, “I think it’s really hard to define. When you say Filipino, people often think it’s rustic and native, but you can translate that aesthetic into something so contemporary and global.”
“For example, we were recently commissioned to be the local design consultants for Louis Vuitton Manila. My sister and I helped them develop this Filipino design story, and we collaborated with craftsmen… What we have assembled was so authentically Filipino…but you’ll feel like you’re in a global Louis Vuitton store,” she said.
“You can convert these rustic, native materials into really much more innovative designs, and that’s something I think we can continue to work on.”