Philippine furniture design has evolved in the last three decades. From the traditional resort style giant bamboo sofas and dining chairs, newer furniture pieces have transformed into more contemporary twists and fluid designs.
World-class design and made with materials indigenous to our country, our local furniture pieces have created waves in the international market. Keeping an edge over other Asian countries, the Filipino flair has a combination of the artistry of the Filipino craftsman and the unique manipulation of local materials like bamboo and rattan.
Cebu furniture designers like Vito Selma and Kenneth Cobonpue have been pushing the boundaries of traditional styles. Through the decades, the evolution of their furniture has created their signature style. Their designs are now recognized in the international furniture industry.
One of Selma’s most popular works is the Cara-Boo, a Filipino take on the classic child’s rocking horse. It features a carabao tied to a handy storage box, an idea that stemmed from Selma’s carefree days as a child. Today, the globally recognized artist is looking for more ways to innovate his signature aesthetic. He works with both local and international businesses to create experimental furniture pieces that truly stand out from a crowd
Cebuano Kenneth Cobonpue was dubbed by TIMEmagazine as “rattan’s first virtuoso” back in 2007. His world-class designs have attracted prominent clientele from around the world, including members of the royal family and Hollywood stars like Ocean’s 11 actor Brad Pitt. To top it off, Cobonpue has earned a variety of international accolades. He continues to create his signature designs including a car made using a bunch of materials found in the Philippines like bamboo and carbon fiber.
For the past three decades, Mejore Woodworks has seen the transformation of Philippine furniture design. Through the years, MEJORE has developed a team of skilled craftsmen and engineers in the art of furniture making. The company prides itself in maintaining consistency in quality and its innovative approach in developing unique products.
After several years of hiatus in the retail market, Mejore, the beloved furniture company of the 80’s and 90’s quietly opened its Makati retail showroom in July 2017 with a home lifestyle concept store. The brand new shop comes with a complete line of home furniture as well as carefully curated decors, accessories, lamps, painting and rugs. All furniture in the store are proudly manufactured in the Philippines by the company’s team of in-house skilled craftsmen and engineers who have mastered woodworks and furniture making for more than three decades. Mejore also prides itself in sourcing local materials and incorporating traditional Filipino woven design patterns that make use of rattan, abaca and raffia, among others.
With its re-entry in the retail industry, Mejore continues to innovate and evolve its products to cater to the needs of the market. It recently launched the Nathalie collection, small line of furniture that reflects a departure from the more traditional and elaborately finished furniture it was once known for producing. The Valeria Sofabed, for example, is a streamlined and elegant looking two-seater sofa that transforms into a queen-sized bed. The design is a direct response to the changing market preference for sleeker looking furniture that can fit into smaller spaces. Similarly, the Leonor daybed, evokes a timeless design that draws elements from traditional Filipino weaving incorporating a more contemporary look with its elegant curves.
As Mejore’s retail business picks-up from where it left off several years ago, the company reflects back to the time when Jose Ong and his daughter-in-law Nathalie founded the company in 1983. At that time, with over 20 years supplying raw materials to the wood industry, they dreamed of not only supplying wood but also creating unique products that that can be appreciated and enjoyed homeowners. In its early days, the company made several partnerships with US-based companies to manufacture and export to renowned companies such as Lane Venture, Henredon, Hickory Chair, Habersham, and EJ Victor. In contrast, Mejore’s absence from the retail scene in the past decade allowed itself to continue to hone its craft by servicing the local contract market, snagging big projects with clients such as Amanpulo, Henan Resorts, The Lind Boracay and Somerset Alabang.
Today, Mejore is managed and operated by third-generation owners, Claire and Lorraine Ong, sisters working in tandem to keep their family’s legacy alive. As such, while the designs and aesthetics of the furniture pieces may have evolved, Mejore’s heritage for creating export-quality and luxurious pieces remains part of each of the items in its product portfolio.
Mejore’s showroom is at the ground floor of Filipino Building, at 135 Dela Rosa corner Legaspi Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati City. Follow Mejore on their Instagram account @mejore_ph