In an article entitled "Haute Spot" in the September 2008 issue of Preview, Joanna Francisco featured the "havens of style and inspiration" of four Filipino designers. Read on to find out all about Arnel Papa's space, and click on the photo gallery to see his latest summer pieces.
Just like his glamorous accessories that use the beauty of indigenous materials, designer Arnel Papa says his workplace must exude naturalism and simplicity. “It lets you work with a sense of ease and oneness with nature,” he says. His workroom houses a collection of antique furniture in a cozy garden setting. “I draw my inspiration from nature and anything that I see from my everyday life. I look around my surroundings, gather all my materials in one place then find the pieces that match each other, and create a masterpiece that would well match the person who would use it.”
Playing with elements such as mother–of–pearl, copper, carabao horns, and kamagong wood allows him to explore his creativity. But Arnel also counts client interaction as essential to his design process. “I draw my inspiration from those who appreciate my works. It makes me want to create and design more pieces for them. It’s about making sure that they wear the appropriate accessories that complement who they are.”
Not one to take trends in fashion for granted, he makes time to go out and keep abreast of trends in the metro. His boutique in Greenbelt 5 allows him to stay in touch with customers. “I make sure that I modify my pieces to fit within the trend but retain my own style—without losing [the pieces’] simplicity and uniqueness. It is somewhat an irony—going with the flow, at the same time moving against it—in order to create your own distinction,” he says. This hands–on artist can sometimes even be found
personally delivering his pieces.
His factory in Bulacan, where he designs, observes, and manages more than 100 people, is all about fostering a harmonious relationship with his workers. “It’s a give and take bond with them. They help me with the designs. They make suggestions on how to make the items look better,” he says. He is still involved in every step of the process from design to production, but sees to it that the workers see and understand the details in creating the piece. “Every worker has his own specialization in creating portions of the piece, therefore communicating with them is important in order for the items to be finished the way you want them to be.”
—written by Joanna Francisco; reprinted from Preview, September 2008; portrait of Arnel Papa shot by Steve Tirona
Click on the photo gallery to see Arnel Papa's Summer 2011 collection.