An Iconic Collaboration Between Exemplary Filipino Design Advocates

When one hears of the name Lor Calma, it is immediately associated with the word icon, especially in the world of Filipino architecture and design. Local architects and designers look up to Architect Lor Calma and his relevance in the industry. With the rise of international awards of our local architects, creating names in the global scene is one of the driving factors that have brought this collaboration to life.

Jumpstarting the partnership, CWC Interiors hosted an exhibit that celebrates Filipino design through the works of the modernist pioneer, Architect Lor Calma. Paying tribute to his creativity and talent, “The Lor Calma: A Retrospect” exhibit aims to showcase his most iconic and timeless design pieces, running from Oct 29 to Dec 1, 2021,

Architects Lor and Ed Calma share more than just a last name. Once again, the father and son duo is adding an exemplary collaboration to the industry that will define modernism at its finest. This genius project with CWC strives to preserve the spirit of some of Lor Calma’s works while upgrading them with the generation’s trends. BluPrint was given the opportunity to exclusively talk to Fred Yuson and Architect Ed Calma, honoring modernism and lasting influence in our country.

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BP:  First of all, we want to know the story behind this iconic collaboration. Can you walk us through the concept and design principles behind it?

FRED YUSON: Basically, we work a lot with Ed. We have done several projects together, resulting to a good collision with him. So we came up with this collaboration that resonated with both our visions.

CWC’s dream is to come up with the first Filipino designer products that can be globally marketed. We have to start somewhere and it has to be with the most iconic subject matter, Lor Calma. Through Ed, we were able to gather our materials and products. We know that Lor Calma is ahead of his time, and he’s the Charles Eames and Frank Lloyd Wright of the Philippines. It’s about time to add Filipino talent to our roster of brands.

BP: To Architect Ed, your father is an exceptional icon, and so, is there a common theme or ideology embedded throughout the selection of the pieces in the exhibit?

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Ar. ED CALMA: This is a partial exhibit of what he did. We are showing his versatility as a designer in different mediums. We wanted to show sculptures, furniture, paintings, and through the video, the jewelry, and houses he did. Through these pieces, it speaks of how he operates with multiple scales, from large-scale houses down to jewelry. Hopefully, we can get into a bigger exhibit, a real retrospective of all his works, everything he did from the very beginning.

Storck Chair: In rattan-weave, metal base in powder coat finish
Duyan Chair: Varnished rattan-weaved native hammock on wrought iron stand
Rocking Chair: Solihiya rocking chair with metal base clad in stained wood

BP: Aside from the furniture line, how will this collaboration serve to emphasize the connection and harmony between luxury brands that you’re catering to and Filipino designs altogether? Is this the start of integrating local brands in CWC?

FRED YUSON: We are already manufacturing. We can do workstations, furniture, anything with metal, wood, aluminum, glass, and acrylic. As we have the means to do all these, we are also capable of bringing this to the next level, which is export. Through this, we can showcase the Filipino talent, bringing them out to the world, manufacture and replicate these items in a more commercial way up to the pedestal of greater design.

Ed and I were discussing to come up with a line, end-to-end, with the Filipino touch, the “Calma Collection”. These are just some of the things we want to bring up to the global scene with a maximum result.

BP: Given the upcoming “Calma Collection”, starting with the masterpieces of your father, Architect Ed, what is your biggest takeaway from seeing the processes of your dad creating these iconic pieces?

Ar. ED CALMA: Well, the biggest takeaway is how knowledgeable he is in many different materials and how he expresses these materials in various ways, forms and how he has his own way of seeing things. It’s not the kind of mainstream or standard things he sees. It’s all about his mind, his originality. He was educated as an architect, but he went into interior design, furniture, sculpture, and jewelry, all out of a love for design.

Architect Ed proceeded to share how his father, Lor Calma, works on his craft. He explains that for Architect Lor, it’s not about quantity but quality and that he would test pieces, develop it over the years and perfect it. “I see my dad’s work ethics daily. He created a unique lifestyle for us in our house, exposing us to what he created and the designs he collects. I’ve gotten used to that kind of living and so it’s just natural for me to get into design. He didn’t have to ask me what I wanted to be. I sketched a lot after school so he probably saw I was interested,” Ed goes on.

“I have his DNA. I work the same way. You can’t be a billionaire with architecture, but I just enjoy what I’m doing. There is fulfillment when you build something out of nothing. Design is a process. Learning is continuous. Every project is a learning experience for the next one,” Architect Ed continues.

The Kalesa Bar: In black powder coat metal frame with tanguile wood and brass details

BP: There is a common denominator between the exhibition of Architect Lor Calma, Architect Ed Calma, and CWC, and that is being great modernists and pioneers here in our country. Can you talk about why your practices place emphasis on modernism?

Ar. ED CALMA: My work focuses on the multifaceted lifestyle we live today. My work tries to highlight and define the period in which we live. It’s appropriate to define our time. The mid-century furniture we see had its beginnings 50 years ago, but it had come to its fruition.

FRED YUSON: From our end, for the 30 years we’ve been distributing top brands like Herman Miller, Vitra, and others, it’s really the mid-century so our training has always been a part of this classic age. We are finding new ways to connect local and international to be relevant to the world. As market leaders, it’s also our obligation to bring Filipino talent to the global niche.

Even with our experience with international suppliers, we can also partake in creating our own Filipino brand. We may be able to give something equal or even better and bring that Filipino brand to the world. This is really our dream, to come up with this line, for the Calma Collection, doing the EAMES collection, making the Philippines proud with manufacturing EAMES products in mid-century furniture.

BP: Timeless in producing designs, that’s the common magnet. From the iconic pieces of Lor Calma, what are your favorites? From the exhibit and previous works?

FRED YUSON: My number 1 on the list is the Kalesa Bar, then the Carabao Chair, and the Duyan Chair.

Ar. ED CALMA: Well, I like the Duyan chair because it’s so simple, with a single gesture of indenting a surface, the chair is created. This was done during the ’80s when nobody was doing this before, but this is common now.

Another piece is a Cross jewelry he designed. It’s made of 5 pieces of square-cut oyster shells with one square that had a pearl inside. He assembled the 5 squares into a Cross placing the square with the pearl in the middle. And last is the sculpture he did in the Mind Museum. From a flat piece of metal, he cut a few incisions on the paper, folded it out to make it stand.

Origami: Made from mild steel in red urethane paint finish
The Sofa: When contemporary meets mid-century modern
Origami Series 3: Made from mild steel in yellow urethane paint finish

BP: For our last question, Architect Ed, what do you think is the legacy of the Calma family that you would want to highlight in this collaboration and for your future collaboration/s with Mr. Fred Yuson of CWC?

Ar. ED CALMA: The legacy that my dad would leave is that design is borderless, not limited to certain disciplines but is always fluid, there are no boundaries.

Architect Ed Calma and CWC Owner Mr. Fred Yuson. Both enthusiasts of borderless and limitless designs, CWC Interiors and
Lor Calma & Partners, define a gratifying collaboration.

Crafting myriad of businesses and partnerships together between good friends, this dynamic and historic collaboration is setting a great momentous standard onwards. Evidently, the prolific vision of Fred Yuson and Philippines’ modernist architect Ed Calma is bound to explore the emergence of the exciting creative alliance.

Photo Credits: Ed Simon ©