Balancing Modern Aesthetics with Filipino Craftsmanship: An Interview with Philux
Traditional craftsmanship applied to modern aesthetics defines Philux’s 40-year success in furniture manufacturing. With the family’s daughters Jessica and Stephanie now in charge of the business, Philux is evolving to reflect a more modern, creative sensibility while continuing to uphold their values of quality and love for Filipino furniture.
From early childhood, Jessica and Stephanie were immersed in the industry of furniture design and manufacturing. Philux founders Max Kienle and his wife, Zelda Aragon-Kienle, provided a solid foundation upon which Jessica and Stephanie now build their own creative vision. Bluprint talks to Jessica and Stephanie about Philux’s history, as well as their plans for the future.
Bluprint: Could you give us a brief history of PHILUX? Who were the main proponents?
Philux: Philux was founded by Max Kienle, a Swiss expatriate, and his Filipina wife Zelda Aragon. It began as an export business, and eventually shifted focus to the local market. Starting out as a small home-based operation, Philux has evolved into an extensive team with seven showrooms across Metro Manila.
The founders’ daughters, Stephanie and Jessica, grew up surrounded by the implements of furniture design and manufacturing. Some of the traditional tools and techniques of their childhood are still in use to this day. The sisters acquired an appreciation for local craftsmanship in furniture and interior design, and returned to Manila after finishing their studies abroad to take over the business. They have launched collections of timeless yet relevant furniture designs for every home, as well as established an online shop, a concierge service, and varying programs through Philux’s retail team.
Stephanie: One such program is Philux Spaces, our brand’s design arm that offers interior design services that was born out of the growing creative needs of our clientele. We believe that creating and designing a space should be a collaborative and personal experience, and with that in mind, we offer three design package options, each of which have been thoughtfully constructed to cater to the differing needs of our clientele.
Jessica: Over the last few months, we have been in the process of working on a Philux Spaces project for the flagship store of an international fashion brand – creating their Filipino design story. For this project, we have been curating different interior design elements such as furniture, decor and lighting. It’s certainly an exciting cross-cultural collaboration, and we look forward to sharing the outcome soon.
Bluprint: What is the vision of the brand?
Philux: Today, more than ever, Philux remains committed to its vision of telling the Filipino story through living spaces, inspiring a mindful way of life, and nurturing a profound love for pieces produced by Filipino hands.
Bluprint: What is special about the products of Philux?
We are also consistently studying how to reduce our environmental impact with more conscious engineering, ethical sourcing of raw materials, and upcycling, in an effort to make our practice and our pieces as sustainable as possible.
Furthermore, our furniture pieces are predominantly manufactured of premium kiln-dried local Mahogany wood or sustainably-sourced European Linden, Ash, Walnut or White oak wood. But we also work with local weaves, metal accents, and a range of upholstery. Over the years, we are proud to have expanded our wood, finish, fabric, metal, and matting options, making the furniture selection process more creative and personal for our clientele.
Bluprint: Can you name your favorite pieces from your store?
Stephanie: Right now, I am particularly into the Alva Dining Chair – one of our most recent releases for the Mod Collection, which is a range of designs inspired by the mid-century modern sensibility. The chair features an angular silhouette, wooden frame, and upholstered seat, as well as classic solihiya detailing, which adds an understated Filipino touch.
Jessica: I am also currently obsessed with another piece from our Mod Collection – the Alva Dining Table. It’s an artful twist on the classic round dining table, with a wooden table top set on a pedestal base that features a fluted design and a brass accent. The table is a gorgeous statement piece that can elevate any room, and is available as a 6-seater or 8-seater, in multiple wood and finish options.
Bluprint: How do you promote Filipinism in your products?
Philux: In our pursuit of creating conscious luxury, crafted locally, we employ a local workforce and work to preserve the traditions of Filipino craftsmanship. As a Filipino brand, we think it is important that we create, develop and manufacture as much as we possibly can within our workshop (all of our pieces are crafted by Filipinos hands), and our team is key to making this happen.
Furthermore, in selecting retail partners, we opt to predominantly work and collaborate with local artisans and those who share in our mission to promote the design talent and skilled craftsmanship of Filipinos. This way, as part of the Philux Home concept, we are able to highlight local decorative accessories and functional items in addition to our furniture pieces. We are also constantly searching for and studying new local materials and techniques to further develop our designs and improve our quality.
What is the legacy you would like to contribute as a brand in our country?
Philux: Philux hopes that its furniture pieces have been and always will be meaningful to Filipino homes. As we continue to champion local design talent and craftsmanship, to search and study techniques and materials to maintain high quality standards, and to work towards producing and consuming more responsibly – we hope to leave a legacy founded on our commitments to local luxury, quality, and sustainability. Our brand carries on through the hard work of its skilled craftsmen and its promise to provide pieces that can be passed on from generation to generation.
The uncompromising quality of Philux’s furniture is what sets the brand apart and gives their pieces the unique attribute of being heirloom-quality furniture: made to be lovingly entrusted to future generations, just as the founders of Philux entrusted their legacy of craftsmanship and quality.