Manila FAME: Weaving dreams into design realities

In the world of design, the pieces that leave their mark possess the unique form and texture born from the dreams of their creators.

This October, Asia’s foremost design show Manila FAME International weaves into one grand story the dreams of the Philippines’ most innovative designers, artists, and creative manufacturers into one exciting and richly-textured event with its theme of Weaving Dreams. For the first time, it brings together the country’s three major sourcing events – Manila Now, CEBUNEXT, and Bijoux Cebu – under a unified Manila FAME International that continues to set high design standards and trendsetting collections for the furniture and furnishings, holiday and gifts, and fashion sectors.

Manila FAME International is a bi-annual event organized by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“The theme for this October is symbolic: while weaving is connecting one twine to another, one thread to another to create a work of art, Manila FAME International is a story of connections and dreams, bringing together the country’s three major sourcing shows into one community of design genius,” shares Rosvi C. Gaetos, Executive Director of CITEM.

“It is not a single dream that drives Filipinos to excel in design and craftsmanship but a twining of several thousands, each wrought from the diverse cultures that give character and texture to our products,” she adds.

“Weaving Dreams signifies this fusion: a mix of cultures that embodies the essence of the famed Filipino warmth and hospitality, combined with our aspirations to create spectacular masterpieces. This is our gift to the world.”

Weaving dreams since 1983

“More than a celebration of Filipino creativity and craftsmanship, Manila FAME International is a homage to design and product innovations that are uniquely Filipino,” states Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo.

Manila FAME International is one of the longest-running trade shows in the Asia-Pacific circuit, the only Philippine show of its kind accredited by the Union des Foires Internationales (UFI), a Paris-based association of trade fair organizers.

For close to three decades, Manila FAME International has been nurturing and promoting Philippine creative manufacturers, producers, and designers in the global market. In the process, it has elevated Philippine design and provided inspiration to hundreds of the country’s small- and medium-scales exporters.

It has paved the way for design groups such as Movement 8, formed in 1999 by Filipino designer Antonio “Budji” Layug and the late CITEM Executive Director Eli Pinto-Mansor, to achieve greater international recognition. The group, which currently includes leading designers Kenneth Cobonpue, Milo Naval, Tony Gonzales, Tes Pasola and Ann Pamintuan, has captured the world’s imagination with products that intuitively reimagine the country’s abundance of indigenous materials such as bamboo, wicker, wood, abaca, and leather into endless material manipulations that push the boundaries of creative and functional design.

Last April 2011, the 53rd edition of Manila FAME International drew more than 2,000 foreign trade buyers and visitors from various markets such as Australia, Japan, Taiwan, USA, India, Hong Kong,  and registered a 45% increase in total export sales over the same period last year.

“Manila FAME International proved to be appropriate as a sourcing ground for things high-quality and unique,” says David Leek, CEO of the Australian Gifts and Homewares Association (GHA).

“Not only does Manila FAME International provide a showcase for Philippine design, it also highlights the Filipinos’ artisan craftsmanship and creative use of natural and recycled materials, as well as their creative interpretation of natural looks in alternate materials,” says Caroline Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief of US magazine Gifts and Decorative Accessories.

The highlight of the April show was the signing of a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between CITEM and 12 Business Support Organizations (BSOs) representing various sectors of the country’s creative industry that has led to the consolidation of Manila Now, which features the latest design ideas and resources for eco-friendly home products; CEBUNEXT, which showcases the local craftsmanship, cultural heritage, and modern design sensibilities of Cebu home furniture and furnishings designers; and Bijoux Cebu, which features varied collections of fashion accessories, with Manila FAME International, effectively bridging the Philippines’ foremost design capitals.

Together, this consolidation creates a unified image and message for the Philippine design industry which has long remained fragmented over the years. It also brings buyers a wider selection of only the best Philippine products ever assembled under one roof. “More convenience, more products to choose from, more potential vendors to meet, and more business deals to clinch, give buyers and visitors more time to enjoy the attractions of the Philippines and experience first hand the Filipinos’ legendary hospitality,” reveals Gaetos.

The signatory BSOs include: the Association of Negros Producers (ANP), the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation (CFIF), the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP), the Christmas Decor Producers and Exporters Association of the Philippines (CDPEAP), the Hospitality and Wellness Pilipinas (HW Pilipinas), the Home Accents Group of the Philippines (HAPI), the Philippine Chamber of Handicraft Industries (PCHI), the Philippine Exporters, Retailers and Producers Development Association Inc. (PERPDA), the Philippine Exporters Confederation (PHILEXPORT), the Fame Foundation Philippines, Inc. (FAME Foundation), the Mindanao Trade Expo Foundation, Inc. (MTE), and the Cebu Gifts, Toys and Houseware (Cebu GTH).

A story worth telling

The story of October’s Manila FAME International continues with CITEM’s Merchandise Specialist Program which taps the expertise of international consultants Michael Cleghorn and Linda Simpson to assist select Filipino exporters in producing new lines and collections for furniture and furnishings, holiday and gifts, and fashion.

Both experts will share their extensive experience in merchandise development, creative clustering, brand building, and designing for profitability.

“I’m looking forward to helping the country increase its exports and see it prosper. The potential of great Philippine-made products is exciting, and the focus should be on what buyers want and great attention should be paid on the current demand of the market,” says Cleghorn, who has worked with leading retailers such as Freedom (Australia), Crate and Barrel (USA), House of Fraser (UK), and Printemps (France).

Thus, this October show will be presented via a trend approach as an exceptional story of product and presentation that will suit various tastes and budgets. Products will be woven together in three individual trend statements, using cross-merchandise concepts to create retail excitement.

These three statements fall under three Trend Stores, namely: Naturalist, Mood Indigo, and Graffiti.

“Naturalist is inspired by Nature and features products created from raw and indigenous materials widely used and found in the Philippines. Mood Indigo pays homage to New Age spiritualism, and showcases spectacular lifestyle products inspired by tribal ikats and the sea. Finally, Graffiti is inspired by the handicraft movement, offering lifestyle products geared towards self-expressionism and the magical blending of pop culture and the myriad international styles of cosmopolitan cities,” explains Simpson, President of Massachusetts-based Imagination Network, where she guides clients through all phases of product development.

Giving life to the show theme will be the Dreamweavers of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, whose tapestries (called T’nalak) echo the heritage of the indigenous T’boli tribe of Mindanao. These Dreamweavers will create spectacular designs out of abaca, transforming their dreams into beautiful and unforgettable design pieces.

To show the boundless ingenuity and craftsmanship of Filipino artisans, live demonstrations at the event’s Creation Stations by Philippine artisans will also take place during the event.

Moreover, the EPOCH Conceptual Exhibit of Avant-garde Designers will present their latest creations, innovative concepts and high-craft designs utilizing Philippine indigenous and ecologically sustainable materials. EPOCH is a new movement in Philippine design, composed of rising young designers and artists with Filipino roots who are based all over the world.

“As the Philippines’ most relevant showcase of its design-driven sectors, we are proud to say that Manila FAME International this October will be an experience of innovation, design and style, commerciality, value and profitability – indeed a story worth telling,” affirms Gaetos.

Manila FAME International will be held on 16-19 October 2011 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Philippines. For more information, visit, or email [email protected].

STOMP! Comes to Manila