March 5-8, 2010
Where furniture design is an intricate art
Where classical and contemporary converge in one global destination
Debbie Palao talks about her design philosophy when using one of the hottest materials around. Allowing the innate qualities of her medium to shine through, this designer knows that when dealing with the beauty of nature, sometimes it's best to leave well enough alone.
There are over 200 species of bamboo, 62 of which are endemic in the Philippines. Most occur naturally, in private plots and thick groves; hardier species which grow at a faster rate are cultivated as renewable resources, providing steady material for many industries, the furniture export industry being one of them.
As a material, bamboo is the "ideal stuff". A member of the Family Gramineae, it is a perennial "giant grass" characterized by its ubiquitous nodes and internodes, which can live up to 120 years. It grows overnight to as much as several inches, reaching its full length and diameter in only two seasons. Its exterior possesses a durability and smoothness which make it impervious to many otherwise damaging elements. It is supple but resistant, able to withstand heavy weight and great strain. As it is indigenous, it is accessible; as it is accessible, it becomes part of a person's life.
Given its impressive qualities as a raw material, new techniques in processing bamboo allow for it to be applied in a myriad different ways. Room for invention expands; bamboo becomes indispensable and necessary in design innovation.
Methods such as splitting take advantage of the limitless parallel divisibility of the internodes to render bamboo into different thicknesses; cutting it crosswise lets it retain its circular form. Bamboo as a design material has been revitalizing the industry, as it it makes for an aesthetic, strong, and ecological manufacturing constituent. As a symbol for regeneration, bamboo likewise encourages the execution of novel concepts, which convey new-world beauty and modern efficiency, but still remain natural.
Debbie Palao takes these ideas and fuses them with her unique design philosophy to create furniture embodying, both literally and figuratively, the spirit of bamboo. She believes in the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi (ä¾˜ã?³å¯‚ã?³); allowing the "perfect imperfectness" of nature to permeate and reveal itself in the final design, so that it not only achieves new form, but it also retains the warmth and the familiarity of the material used in its creation.In her designs, Debbie emphasizes the significance of the material. Whereas the drawing of a chair is the designerâ€™s own story, the material has its own to tell as well.
"Perfect imperfectness" implies that a designer must attune herself to the material, rather than foisting her ideas into it directly. It implies that, as the natural material is not formulated, it is unique, and the designerâ€™s responsibility is to enhance such uniqueness, without taking from it.
Small bamboo, split and inlaid in open laminate, provide texture for the Argyle tabletops. Big bamboo internodes, cut and treated, form the major body of the Pouf and the Slant. The Congo Weave collection is known for its bold tribal motif, which are comprised of small split bamboo assembled and inlaid in pattern. A play on crosswise cutting and form makes the Macademia pieces distinct.
Bamboo is one of the many materials Debbie works with in her designs, as she continues to grow her ideas and re-introduce the beauty and grace of the natural medium.Download Bamboo Tales by by K. V. Batiquin (PDF)