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Filipino design authorities share what to expect at Manila FAME’s Design Commune this year

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — One of Manila FAME‘s main show features, the Design Commune serves as a showcase of brand-new home, fashion, and lifestyle pieces that have been created under the product development program of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM).

Manila FAME’s Design Commune merges artisanship, innovation, and sustainability as a means to push the boundaries of excellent product design.

For this year’s edition, local exhibitors collaborated with three renowned Filipino designers to serve as product specialists: Tony Gonzales, a creative director, consultant, and curator of various projects, such as the Pinyapel of the Design Center of the Philippines; and design duo Rita Nazareno and Gabriel Lichauco of Nazareno/Lichauco, internationally-awarded curators and mentors known to highlight contemporaneity and innovation in traditional craft and materials.


Collectively, they will share their design processes and inspirations that helped breathe life into the upcoming collections in collaboration with local brands and manufacturers. There are a total of 40 companies included in the roster of the product development program with more than 300 newly developed products.

Get to know the thought and creative process behind this year’s Design Commune:

Utilitarianism: accents of practicality for the contemporary consumer

Mr. Mike and Ms. Banj Claparols of Creative Definitions during their consultation meeting with design specialists Rita Nazareno and Gabby Lichauco

For Rita and Gabby, marking today’s age in the post-pandemic era necessitates going back to nature and history while underscoring the edge of Philippine craftsmanship. Their newest designs include functional pieces that take inspiration from the great outdoors, glamping, and archaeology.

For the design duo, the theme not only maximizes the functionality of a product, but it adds a chic and modern flair.

According to Rita, “We came up with a concept that hopefully resonates to many–a blend of utilitarian and the outdoors but in a quintessential Filipino that is both fashionable and chic. In the special setting for Design Commune, we want the audience to feel like they are at an anthropology exhibit.”

“When one thinks of utilitarianism, it is about something designed to be useful or practical. But also, in philosophy, utilitarianism is a theory that prescribes actions that maximize one’s happiness and well-being. We think that’s pretty cool.”

The designers dove into outdoor experiences, including collecting specimens like butterflies and bugs or at entomology displays. They even explored concepts such as dug-up arrowheads, which represent protection and bravery, and pre-colonial basketry and tools.

Vintage luggage trunks and other design elements such as loops, ropes, straps, and quick-release buckles to forage plants and herbs are also taken as inspirations.

Gabby said that Design Commune this year is an exciting project for the tandem, “We are looking forward to a physical Design Commune after having three years of being in the digital sphere. We look forward to buyers, global and local ones, seeing the pieces, touching them, and appreciating the unique creativity of modern Philippine craftsmanship.”

Harnessing Filipino artisanship in two strong colorways

Mr. Tony Gonzales with Mr. Pete and Ms. Cathy Delantar of Nature’s Legacy during their product development consultation

Tony, on the other hand, focuses on two distinct colorways to highlight the skillfully crafted and environmentally sustainable products from the country. With “Blues on Blue” and “Naturals and White” prevalent in the mainstream, both modern-classic colorways were the foundation of his upcoming collection.

Highlighted in his designs are the natural, handicraft flair of Filipino products, which were reimagined and paired with clean lines, minimalism, and modern silhouettes and textures.

According to the designer, “What always inspires me are the craftsmen that I work with. The material manipulation and masterful skill of our artisans is really what our country is known for.”

“Both colorways are chosen because of their commercial viability, or in other words because they already have a demand in the mainstream market,” Tony added.

What makes this edition of the Design Commune exciting for Tony is discovering new design outlooks from local exhibitors, including the executions of his designs. He said that their pieces take part in the fresh outlook of the global market brought about by the changing landscape after the pandemic.

Mr. Tony Gonzales at exhibitor 33 Point 3 Exports Inc. showroom

The 71st edition of the trade show will be held at the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City on October 19 to 21.

Manila FAME’s 2023 edition is organized in partnership with RLC Residences and the Philippine Airlines as the official carrier.

To register as a buyer, visit here.

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