With news of the Swedish furniture retailer IKEA set to build its largest branch in the world at the SM Mall of Asia in 2020, concerns for local furniture sellers have spawned. They have been facing decline in sales despite their consistency with manufacturing due to the current dominance of international homeware retailers in the country. What more when the world’s largest furniture retailer which also happens to be backed by a large-scale multinational group establishes their retail store in the Philippines?
Instead of looking forward to the arrival of a household brand, we should invest more in supporting works of our local craftsmen. Aside from having artisans make each item by hand (as much as possible, that is), many furniture stores inside and outside the Metro also invest in sourcing all materials locally and support fair trade.
Here are some:
All pieces of furniture sold by Thomas & George are made (and even hand-sculpted) by local artisans and craftsmen who mostly come from the south. Some of these workers have even traded down their family line their skills in manufacturing, leading to second generation furniture makers at Thomas & George.
Aside from employing local craftsmen, the company also prioritizes locally sourced materials. They sometimes source from Europe, but this is only because they have to conform to international export quality standards. “Our wood for example, is mainly sourced locally though we also use imported veneers in combination,” Lara Kristine Sarmiento, the store’s creative director, told Nolisoli.ph. They also use reclaimed wood upon request, especially for custom-made projects.
910 Antonio Arnaiz Ave, Makati City
This bespoke furniture store houses all things local: from their products and artworks crafted intricately by Filipino artisans to their in-house cafe that sources ingredients from Benguet, Bukidnon, and Davao. Even its own name practically screams craftsmanship in Spanish. They sell pieces that vary from consigned products from artisans all over the country to made-to-order ones that they will relay to their partner makers. “It was very important for us to want to bring this space as a platform for creators and craftsmen alike to be recognized,” co-owner Francine Gacrama said in a previous interview with Nolisoli.ph.
Bonus: They also sell pet furniture.
GF, Filipino Building, 135 Dela Rosa Street, corner Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Mejore began in 1983 as a wood supplier. With the help of designers, homeware experts, and committed craftsmen, it was able to expand its 75,000 square foot facility to a 150,000 square foot plant. Although the company has imported a modern line of machineries to quicken their production, Mejore still prioritizes the preservation of the Filipino culture for design which is why they employ more than 300 skilled artisans for hand-carving and crafting wood into complex homeware designs. Aside from that, most of the furniture they sell are made of materials sourced from different Philippine provinces.
4. Resurrection Furniture
10A Alabama St., Quezon City
If you’re opting for a truly sustainable set of furniture, this local store and found objects gallery sells homeware that are handmade from scrap materials or unwanted furniture. With this concept, Resurrection Furniture does not only lessen waste by putting reusing old materials. It also gives space for artists and artisans to showcase their skills in manufacturing.
3F, Furniture Section, Metro Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City
Founded in Cebu, Murillo has been designing, creating, and supplying furniture for more than 60 years. As much as possible, the company uses natural and locally sourced materials like rattan, wicker, iron, wood, abaca, and sea grass for its production, which is led by more than 150 craftsmen and craftswomen. It is currently run by brothers and designers Allan and Christopher Murillo who both grew up studying welding and carpentry while attending school, mainly influenced by their father’s furniture manufacturing job.
Header image courtesy of Thomas & George Artisan Furniture
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Writer: AMIERIELLE ANNE BULAN