Straight from the Street: Pinoy street food inspires Filipino furniture collection
By Angela Casco
The inspiration to create something out of nothing sometimes come from just about anything.
Such is the case for furniture designer Kenji Ting, who has created a line of furniture based on popular food found in the streets of Metro Manila.
“I was having a bad day when I decided to go to Baclaran—to try new things and to check out the area after the so-called clean up,” the 25-year-old designer tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.
CREATIVE COLLECTION Kenji Ting showcases his ‘Manila Street Food’ collection, which includes the balut chair and isaw table (bottom); pan de sal ottoman is not only functional but also comfortable to sit in
Ting’s time to walk off the bad mood in the area soon becomes the Eureka moment for his collection.
“As I was walking around Baclaran, I noticed the street food stalls were crowded with people from all walks of life. Some were wearing their office attire and others were in their casual clothes and flip flops,” he recalls. “I realized then that when it comes to food, Filipinos are no different from each other.”
Called “Manila Street Food,” the collection features three pieces: an isaw table, a balut chair, and a pan de sal ottoman.
I consider a furniture piece beautiful when it conveys a culturally relevant story to Filipinos. That’s my goal when I design. I want to show how I see Filipino culture and connect the diverse aspects of it, and I want it to be uniquely Filipino. This collection will always be my reminder that design is for everyone, just like food.
“[It is] about the street food that we usually see and eat,” Ting says. “It is also a culture inseparable to Filipinos. We just love food and the likes of isaw, balut, and pan de sal will always be a go-to, no matter the status in life.”
Ting uses rattan and tanguile sourced from Bicol, while touches of yellow are consistent in all three pieces.
“For the balut chair, the yellow represents the yolk, while the dark parts represent the hair of the duck embryo,” he says. “The light-colored parts of the chair represent the egg itself.”
This theme choice is not a surprising choice at all. Not only has Ting spent his college days as an industrial design student at the street food stall- laden De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde (DLSU-CSB), he also believes that designs should always tell a story.
“I consider a furniture piece beautiful when it conveys a culturally relevant story to Filipinos,” he says. “That’s my goal when I design—I want to show how I see Filipino culture and connect the diverse aspects of it, and I want it to be uniquely Filipino. This collection will always be my reminder that design is for everyone, just like food.”
Apart from the design, Ting also prioritizes function and proceeds to work on the form.
When asked what’s next for him, Ting says there’s more to come.
The “Manila Street Food” collection, for instance, will not be limited to three pieces.
“I’m currently working on some lanterns, still based on street food,” he says. A Siargao-inspired “Alon” collection and Ilocos Sur-inspired “Krisologo” line are also in the works.
“For now, I’ll continue traveling around the Philippines,” he says. “I’ll study more about the different subcultures in our country and continue designing with Filipino stories to tell.”