Philippine arts

[Kitchen 143] Creativity and craftsmanship: Kultura launches Filipino design studio

Michelle Aventajado
[Kitchen 143] Creativity and craftsmanship: Kultura launches Filipino design studio
Kultura's design studio initiative will only be available until September 30 at the Podium

Launched on September 1, Kultura welcomed 18 new and seasoned Filipino designers to their Podium location for a month-long celebration of creativity and craftsmanship. The Filipino Design Studio features carefully curated homegrown brands by entrepreneurs who are providing options that are innovative, sustainable, and mindful.

Here are some of the brands that caught my attention when I visited the launch last week.

Millie Monday
MILLIE’s BROOD. (L-R) Mariel Ching, the author, Margot Prado, Jobet Calaquian. Photo c/o Michelle Aventajado

Launched by three siblings as a tribute to their Momma Millie, Millie Monday provides artful home accessories for the table or home office. Highlight both form and function, these desktop calendars, placemats, tissue holders, and journals provide little spots of happiness throughout the day.

Shepard Life Goods
SKIN CARE KIT. Items from Shepard Life Goods. Photo by Michelle Aventajado

Jewelle and Philip Mugglestone birthed their pandemic skin care business after they studied herbalism and local botanicals to create products for their own family. Hailing from Cebu, this couple wanted to provide truly sustainable options for discerning clients who enjoy ingredients with both healing and cleansing properties. 

The Fine Life Market

With a storefront in Kapitolyo along Brixton St., Martie del Pilar purposefully takes her vision and artistry to the next level. Also born out of being locked down in quarantine, The Fine Life Market got its start with liquid hand soap. As friends and family began buying Martie’s products, she expanded the line and pursued a partnership with the International Justice Mission. As a Freedom Partner of IJM, she donates 5% of her sales to stop the online sexual exploitation of children here in the Philippines. Shoppers who visit the store can even stop for a spot of tea or coffee, and peruse the gift shop chockfull of natural products.

DELICATE. Earrings from Mjorian. Photo by Michelle Aventajado

Marigrace Reano begins each bauble by putting pen to paper. Taking her creative inspiration from muse Catriona Gray, she shares the beauty of Philippine fauna through semi-precious gemstones crafted to mimic realistically delicate horticulture. Expanding beyond her dream of creating a full collection featuring local flowers, Marigrace has begun to provide a more sensual experience for her clients through luxury candles that are tangy, sweet, and peaceful.

JIM Weaver 
BRIGHT AND BOLD. Jenica, Isabel, and Mischel of JIM Weaver. Photo by Michelle Aventajado

Keeping it in the family, these three sisters launched their wearable art in 2012. Jenica, Isabel, and Mischel incorporate the beauty and allure of Philippine culture into silk scarves, placemats, and coasters. In some of their newer designs, they take inspiration from Filipino folklore and the Philippine seas.

Madison Grid Plus
FAB FINDS. Chris Cuasay of Madison Grid Plus. Photo by Michelle Aventajado

Looking to expand and supplement her own sisters’ love of tablescaping, Chris Cuasay started sourcing local finds during the pandemic to add both form and function to entertaining. When her sisters were pleased with these finds, she realized that others would enjoy her creativity in sourcing as well. Madison Grid Plus was thus born, and began selling wares through Instagram. From tableware to home accessories, Chris has even expanded her product list by offering items beyond our borders.

Ken Samudio
MARINE LIFE. Pieces from Ken Samudio. Photo by Michelle Aventajado

A former biologist, it was only natural for Ken Samudio to take inspiration from corals, sea glass, and our beautiful blue waters for his business. True to his commitment to further sustainable fashion, he repurposes Japanese beads and upcycles leather scraps to create bags, bracelets, and one-of-a-kind pieces for his distinguished clients. His designs lean on the principles of biomimicry while melding nature, artifice, and even vintage pieces.

Matthew and Melka

Trendier and more accessible than his main brand, Ken Samudio named this other brand after his two children. Looking to offer more relaxed and resort-friendly designs, Ken launched Matthew and Melka to offer accessories for a broader audience.

WHIMSICAL. Earrings from Flutter. Photo by Michelle Aventajado

Adept at telling stories, Katrina Ong takes inspiration from nature and the world around her to create intricately beaded designs that have been worn on runways and by celebrities all over the world. These carefully crafted, red carpet-worthy statement pieces offer opportunities for Filipino women to boast their skill and artisanal talents. –

Kultura’s design studio initiative, which brings fashion, skin care, home furnishings, and accessories to discriminating consumers, and will only be available until September 30 at the Podium.

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Michelle Aventajado

Michelle Aventajado is a Filipina American striving for an ever-elusive balance in everything she does. Advocating for individuals with IDD through Best Buddies Philippines, sharing her parenting journey with her daughter's extra chromosome through Momma 'N Manila, and churning out love of home and hearth through Kitchen 143 are just some of the things that fuel her passion and serve her God-given purpose.