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There is no denying the unique and skilled craftsmanship of the Filipino. In the past decades, the masterpieces of designers who have become renowned worldwide have sparked real interest in Filipino craftsmanship.
Our featured artisans all attest to the seemingly innate talent for arts and crafts of the Filipino, which is also what motivates them even more to pursue artisanship. Using the rich natural resources of the country, as well as the rich creative talent of Filipino artisans, these designer-entrepreneurs have produced pieces that have earned international acclaim and have made us proud.
Wynn Wynn Ong has a strong passion for crafting artistic, beautiful, and exquisite jewelry and accessories. And it doesn’t come as a surprise that the world took notice. Not your ordinary jeweler, Wynn Wynn insists on creating one-of-a-kind pieces that can’t be found elsewhere, using a very wide range of materials, from precious metals and stones to shells.
Wynn Wynn’s penchant for unique craftsmanship may have been inspired by her love for Filipino crafts and art, and perhaps also by her exposure to international culture and art, being raised in Vienna and Manila, and having had the privilege to travel. At a young age she harnessed her talent, creating handmade accessories as gifts for family and friends. With the help of friends and connections, Wynn Wynn’s creations would soon be discovered by jewelry and accessories enthusiasts abroad.
A true artist, Wynn Wynn meticulously designs each piece as though it has a story of its own, and draws inspiration from the materials that she uses. Her out-of-the-box creations would earn her a number of clients internationally, who regard her pieces almost like collectors’ items because of the rarity of her designs.
Through the years, Wynn Wynn has only gotten better at what she does, now creating even more sophisticated, complex yet coherent designs for accessories. Her masterpieces are in more than 80 countries around the world. Considered as one of the renowned Filipino designers internationally, Wynn Wynn is proud that this has helped bring attention to Filipino craftsmanship, believing that Filipinos have always been rich in talent.
From the runway to the red carpet
Another artisan who intended to showcase Filipino craftsmanship is Tina Maristela-Ocampo. When she first thought of the concept for Celestina, what she really wanted was to “bring whatever is here in the Philippines out to the world.” Hence, Celestina would produce fine handmade bags using local indigenous products crafted by Filipino artisans. Celestina’s designs would later grace the pages of none other than Vogue magazine, which would in turn also spur interest from A-list celebrities and the international fashion industry.
Tina started in the industry not as a designer but as a model. She, along with fellow models, would help professionalize the modeling industry in the Philippines through the founding of the Professional Models Association of the Philippines (PMAP), which has already benefited today’s generation of models.
Bagging acclaim: Tina Maristela-Ocampo of Celestina
It was after her modeling career that Tina turned to being an entrepreneur and designer. With great attention to detail, and getting inspiration from books and practically anything around her, Tina has become the designer behind handbags that celebrities such as Halle Berry, Lucy Liu and Eva Longoria have carried with them on the red carpet. The feature in Vogue was perhaps the break Tina needed, as it opened doors to international partnerships that have allowed her to set up stores in the US, Europe and Asia.
Today, one may still spot Celestina minaudieres held by some celebrities at the Oscars or other prestigious Hollywood awards shows. Apart from handbags, Celestina also designs jewelry, shawls and home furnishings.
Putting a Filipino brand on craftsmanship
From Hollywood to Milan, Kenneth Cobonpue has captured the interest and earned the respect of designers, the social elite and A-list celebrities. It excited Filipinos, perhaps most especially his fellow Cebuanos, when the news came out that Brad Pitt owned as many as seven furniture pieces by Kenneth, or that he made waves in a design show in Milan, or that almost every piece in the entire set of the movie Ocean’s 13 was by the Cebuano designer. He, just like Tina and Wynn Wynn, is why the international community is slowly discovering the Philippines as a hub for brilliant artists.
Kenneth was born and raised in Cebu, and he may have gotten his artistic influences from his mother, who was also a locally known furniture designer. Taking inspiration from his mother, Kenneth would also learn about furniture design using indigenous materials such as rattan and abaca. Traveling, to other countries especially, helps expand any artist or designer’s imagination and is one of the best ways to find inspiration and ideas. This Kenneth did as he went to Germany and Italy to study, before going back to Cebu to master his craft in furniture design.
In anything, Kenneth says that to get better at doing things, you have to keep doing it. Through his career, Kenneth continued to design innovative pieces, and with the right marketing strategy, was able to continue making a big impression on international clients. Kenneth is one of the designers who really put a name to Filipino craftsmanship, as one of his biggest assertions was not only to label his pieces as his, but more importantly, as “Made in the Philippines.” So much that with his success so would also the Philippine furniture and design industry be hoisted onto a global platform. Kenneth’s creations are in around 27 countries, and he continues to make waves locally and internationally as he wins awards for the country here and abroad.