Gregoria (Lounge) by Ito Kish
2012 - 2013, Silver A' Arts, Crafts and Ready-Made Design Award Winner
I am always inspired by the Filipino story and history, and, also, sustainable Filipino materials. For the Gregoria lounge, I was inspired by the intricately designed balustrades in our old home. Balustrades have been a staple element in traditional Filipino home designs since it was brought into the Filipino design sensibility by the Spaniards. I thought that such a well-crafted thing deserve much more than being a decorative element of stairs and balconies. I was inspired by these remarkable Filipino things. I named this seat after my mother, Gregoria Kish. The backrest made of an element always forgotten by others, but nonetheless textured, intricate, interesting and always strong and firm, and the seat beautiful, at first glance frail and weak, but actually can support big deals of weight. I was also inspired by the Filipino way of living. The design for the Gregoria is, in many ways shaped by my experiences as a Filipino. The balusters can look like spires of a church, for example, as Filipinos make a majority of Catholics in the world. Also, if you consider the balusters forming a semi-circle, you can see it as a very regal piece of furniture, just like a throne.
Gregoria features the baluster, a key decorative element in traditional Filipino home designs. Gregoria is a semi-circular 2 to 3 seater lounge. Its backrest is made of kiln dried Gmelina balusters in natural finish, and its seat made of split rattan solihiya(weave) in a sunburst pattern. Its backrest balusters are set in different heights so as to highlight the overall textured quality of the piece. The balusters themselves are ornately designed and the solihiya handweaved. The play on textures can be seen from the varying visual composition of the balustrade backrest, to the ornate carvings of each baluster and the intricate weaves of the split rattan solihiya seat. All the materials used in the Gregoria lounge have been sourced from sustainable materials and means of production: Gmelina is a fast growing hardwood, and both Gmelina and the rattan are farmed and sourced locally in the Philippines.
Design Challenges
The baluster is a very much Hispanic influence in Filipino design. Due to the 300 year stay of the Spaniards in the Philippines, the baluster pretty much became a staple element in traditional Filipino home design. The challenge for us was to revive and reintroduce the frequently ignored design element that is the baluster. The vital function of the balusters in the Spanish era were to be a means to promote air circulation inside the home. The well spaced balusters used in the balustrades let cool wind into the home and let warm air out. The Gregoria lounge also uses this simple technology of "airconditioning" with its amply spaced balustrade backrest.
Production Technology
For the Gregoria lounge, we only used locally occurring and sustainable materials. The wood, Gmelina, is light, very durable, and is fast-growing and locally produced making it both very fit as a material for furniture and a substitute for other Philippine hardwoods that take a longer time to replace.
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