Arts & Culture

6 Pinoy Designers Who Are Making A Mark on the Global Scene

Filipinos are putting their stamp in the world of design, one city at a time

Photography: @lizacrespoecotecture and @kennethcobonpue on Instagram (Main Photos)

Whether it's in the world of fashion, furniture design, or architecture—Filipino talent has left an impact around the world. Get to know six individuals who have been making a difference—from crafting incredible pieces of furniture to championing sustainable architecture:

1. Ito Kish |


Ito Kish has been a visual storyteller for decades now, his discerning eye enabling him to create modern reinterpretations of indigenous Filipino themes, curate stunning vignettes for stylish homes, and simultaneously carve out interior spaces that reflect a homeowner’s personal story.


A frequent participant in tradeshows and industry events Kish continues to put his indelible stamp on the global scale. This September, he is set to curate the second edition of “Exclusively by Hand,” a Tokyo show featuring over 10 Filipino brands known for creatively reworking indigenous crafts. His interior design arm has also taken him to a penthouse along Madison Avenue, in New York.

2. Kenneth Cobonpue |


Years ago, this Cebu-based furniture designer turned media darling gained global attention for having Brad Pitt as one of his clients. These days, Cobonpue continues to churn out innovative and modern designs that integrate natural materials with traditional craftsmanship and superior technology.


Known for organic pieces that follow nature’s themes, his works have graced homes not just of Hollywood celebrities but also members of royalty. Southeast Asia remains close to this designer’s heart, as he tours the world from Milan to New York in several design shows and public appearances.

3. Vito Selma |


Vito Selma keeps nature close to his heart, whether it be in his active social media feed or in the beautifully sinuous furniture pieces he designs. The Cebu-based artist works best with wood, which he works with a particular eye on craftsmanship and detail.


Already featured in international publications and winning awards here and abroad, Selma continues to produce light, airy and ornate, modern pieces that prove to the globe that Filipinos in design are ready to push the envelope.

4. Dem Bitantes |


An active participant in the trade fair circuit, Bitantes’ multi-awarded portfolio is proof of his love for local materials and contemporary form. 


His previous collaboration with local brand Designs Ligna has helped expose him to the global market, and his current work with A. Garcia Crafts shows this industrial designer’s innate appreciation for local talent and the incredible potential of ‘ordinary’ materials.


5. Liliana Manahan |


One of the country’s fast-rising young designers, Lilianna Manahan graduated from the University of the Philippines with a degree in Industrial Design, which then took her to an apprenticeship under celebrated Cebu-based furniture designer, Kenneth Cobonpue.

An avid experimenter with materials and form, Lilianna’s collection of fantastical creatures was on display as the only set of Filipino pieces in the Galerie Joseph (Paris). Also a participant at Maison et Objet and Manila FAME, there is much to look forward to from this fresh and creative new talent.

6. Liza Morales Crespo | | @lizacrespoecotecture


One of the country’s major proponents for sustainable design and green architecture, Liza Crespo’s experience and portfolio takes her from Manila all the way to New York.


Her practice has her traveling between both cities, creating spaces and structures that reflect a keen awareness of environmental context and technology. Crespo continues to engage with the global community by delivering lectures on LEED assessment, green technology, sustainable design and architecture.

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