Filipino Design For The World

Ito Kish, a rising designer from the Philippines, has been making waves in the design circle. He shares with FFE his design philosophy and the ideas that helped bring to life some of his award winning collections.



Telling tales through his designs, Ito Kish is a rising star from the Philippines. His passion for beauty started when he was just a kid; he spent his childhood in the rural Sao Paolo where he began to be inspired by his surroundings, from his mother’s woven basket to the environment, he saw beauty everywhere.

However Kish’s design journey did not begin as a designer but instead as a visual merchandiser where he used his creativity to ensure his displays turned heads whilst people pass by the store. Prior to that, in college, he used to usher in the Culture Centre at the Philippines where he had the chance to witness the finest theatre production, design events, and visual arts from all over the world; this may have influenced his design style. Though, his journey did not stop there, he got his head start in the furniture business as retailer in 2000 with ITO KISH HOME (which he co –founded) then later branched out to interior design in 2006 to finally releasing his first furniture line in 2012. As an interior designer, Ito Kish designs for all, hospitality, commercial, and residential.

Inspired constantly by the mix of the Latin influence and the over 101 indigenous groups in the Philippines, Ito Kish carries a black book around in which he records his ideas, time, and dates to ensure that they are not lost with time; he does initial sketches and writes concept details. Kish’s inspiration does not only stop there, his master craftsmen whom taught him the simple designs like weaving and carving are also contributors to his design style. By fusing the old and the new, he is determined to create new Filipino aesthetics whilst bringing pride to Philippines through his designs. When asked if he would give greater weightage to form or function, he responded saying they both go hand in hand but urging that form is the first impression and it makes people love a piece.

One of his earliest collections - the ‘Binhi’ is inspired by nature. ‘Binhi’ originates from the Tagalong word meaning seed. Quoting Kish “It is a grain of energy that transform into life. Inspired by this organic form, the Binhi collection stays faithful to the seed’s purpose in fostering growth – both in a literal and a bigger, more profound sense. The three – piece seating nurtures the life of thriving greens as it invites you to spend a reposeful moment with it”. Thus their tagline for collection is “Life in Repose”. Amongst Kish’s prominent collections is the Baluster Collection; taking almost three prototypes and a year to complete, this is one of Ito Kish’s most favourite and successful collections. The Baluster Collection comprises of chairs, tables, cabinets, and accessories inspired by the extensive balustrade structural and decorative element in colonial Hispanic architecture.

Staying true to its name, each piece uses wooden balusters (short columns/pillars) as the support structure and for a decorative touch, its placement and variation differs with pieces. The wood used throughout this collection is the kiln – dried, lightweight Gmelina wood, which is found in abundance in the Philippines. Kish had also incorporated the weaving technique into this collection, taught by his craftsmen. Successful locally, the collection is considered to be iconic to a certain extend in the Philippines. They also modified a new version by coming up with accent version which is easier to be transported and can occupy a smaller space.


The Baluster Collection


Ito Kish
Coincidentally, Kish’s favourite and most valued piece is also from the Baluster Collection, Gregoria – a piece he lovingly named after his mother. He revealed that the Gregoria Lounge is first piece designed from the collection. This avant-garde design had won him awards locally and internationally establishing him as a furniture designer and the DNA for his succeeding designs. To Kish, his proudest award has to be the Katha Award mainly because that it was his first award and also because he won it for “The Gregoria Lounge”.

Kish does not only showcase his designs locally but also internationally. Amongst the many shows that he have been in are FAME (Manila), Maison & Objet (Paris and Singapore), Salone del Mobile (Milan) and ICFF (New York). For most of these shows Kish participates as a part of Design Philippines, a group organised by the Department of Trade CITEM. This is with the exception of Manila FAME and Maison Singapore where he participated on his own. He earns good press and sales attending these events.

While his collections are available locally at his retail store, ITO KISH HOME, and through his website itokish.com, buyers can also get his collection in Singapore through Living DNA, Dubai through Cities Dubai, and Connecticut through Pergola. In Australia, his collection is available through Globewest.

On a never-ending quest to put his designs around the world, Ito Kish is now working on creating his next collection that is inspired by religion and its evolution throughout the years.