IT'S an artsy life, as feature writer Fiona Patricia S. Escandor finds out from five young people who’s out to redesign Cebu’s arts and design scene.
There are stories of proudly Cebuano-made furniture making their way to the homes of famous Hollywood celebrities. These are often thought of as exceptional achievements, somewhat rare tales with the next one popping up in another 10 years or so. It is unfortunate that many fail to realize that hey, there is certainly more where that came from.
Cebu is home to many talented artists only waiting to be discovered, waiting for the perfect opportunity to wow the world with their remarkable designs and concepts. What is lacking is simply an avenue, where these promising young architects, interior and product designers can showcase their very own creative portfolios.
This is where Urbanfolio steps in. Urbanfolio is a collective of five dynamic individuals who want to provide an outlet for Cebu’s creative minds; their pioneer project being a television program bearing the same name.
“It is a show that is basically about design, anything to do with design, and not just fashion. We’re talking about architecture, interior design, landscape and accessories,” explained the show’s host and producer Irena Byriel.
Together with Irena in the Urbanfolio team are president Josefa Isabela “Aiai” Garcia, vice president for marketing Don Edrian Tirol, manufacturing manager Michael Diaz Cancio and creative director Holly Dawn Dychangco.
“Basically, it started as a small project between me and Michael, involving local furniture and craft,” said Don. “Then it evolved into something bigger, so we decided to look for people who are better than us in different aspects. We found our host Irena, Holly our creative director, and there’s Aiai, our boss. She’s our walking, talking alarm clock—in a good way.”
“We all contribute something to the show,” Irena added, referring to each member’s unique expertise.
The team said that the initial concept for the show was something similar to MTV
Cribs, wherein celebrities would take the viewers on a visual tour around their home.
“Eventually, as we started having more meetings about what’s missing in Cebu and what Cebu needed, we realized it wasn’t the Cribs style,” Aiai said. “We needed to help market great design happening in Cebu that didn’t have an outlet for it.”
Urbanfolio’s main segments are the following: Public Access, in which they focus on the design of a public establishment, Spotlight Designer, where they will feature a promising local designer, and Private Space, in which viewers can have an exclusive glimpse into well-designed private homes.
The pilot episode will be aired in the first week of September on Amazing Cebu Channel 54. For a sneak peek, a seven-minute teaser is up on Urbanfolio’s Facebook page, featuring Gilt, an artisan lounge in Banilad.
“We pick the places that have a unique style and feel,” Don said. “We’re looking at places that people haven’t been before, or places that push design in Cebu. If you’re a restaurant, bar or hotel that brings something new to change the norms, then we’re there.”
As for Spotlight Designer, Don added that they will try to refrain from going to the “the usual suspects.” He said: “We want to showcase talents that people don’t really know. We have a thousand students (in architecture, interior design, etc.) graduating each year. It’s impossible that there won’t be at least one who’s good.”
By bridging the gap between local designs to the rest of the world, Urbanfolio also aims to polish the creative senses of Cebuanos.
Holly said: “Many Cebuanos, when they go to a restaurant, they don’t appreciate the
design, they don’t really see the small detail. But once we come in, we show them that there’s so much more to it. We want to dive in deeper in terms of design.”
World-class concepts can be found in Cebu’s very own backyard and according to Aiai, Urbanfolio’s role is to “educate, inspire and inform” the locals about it.
“When people know these aspects of design are available, we might see more and more
people in the future make it better. Gone are the days nga pwede lang na butangi lang nag lamisa dira (that you can put furniture where ever),” Don said.
As a creative hub, the team’s long-term goal is to become Cebu’s leading handbook in the fields of architecture, interior and product design. Another project that they have brewing is design production; eventually, they will invite budding young artists to realize their designs through Urbanfolio. Mike said, “We want to inspire the younger generation to come up and tell us: ‘I can make that.’”
Much can be expected from this promising crew of design aficionados. With the vision of showcasing the best of what Cebuano ingenuity has to offer, they will push the boundaries of local style and design—one episode at a time.