The Artisans

 

 

Wynn Wynn Ong

Born into a family of women who collected jewelry, and in a nation famed for its gems, her childhood visits to the souks of Istanbul, the gold markets of Beirut and Karachi, and the gem emporiums of Chandni Chowk in Delhi, cemented her passion. In a 2008 article she wrote for Town & Country Philippines titled The Language of Stones, she said “Gems were once so plentiful in Burma that my great grandmother’s fishpond was littered with rough, semi-precious pebbles . . . . deep beds of tourmaline, garnet, citrine, peridot, amethyst, spinel, sapphires, and rubies. Older Burmese remember the times when the mountains of Mogoke, where rubies continue to be mined, used to glow blood red at dusk. The slopes were scattered with corundum which would catch the dying suns’ rays.”

She started designing jewelry in 2001, without training or a formal background in gemology, because she found none that she wanted to wear. Now her work is celebrated locally and internationally for her craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail. Her refusal to make more than one piece of a kind, and no more than a limited number of piece each year, have made them highly-sought after by collectors as well as society’s elite. They have been extensively featured in high-end Philippine and international magazines such as the Robb Report, Surface Asia, Travel & Leisure, Platinum, Asian Fortune, Spa Finder, Food and Wine magazine, the Dolce Vita luxury lifestyle magazine, as well as the Hong Kong Tatler, Thailand Tatler, and the Philippine Tatler.

In March 2011, Haven Books launched an international coffee table book named “Hidden Gems” featuring ten jewelry designers based in Asia who are renowned for their high level of craftsmanship and for the fact that every piece they made told a story. Wynn Wynn was chosen, the only representative from the Philippines, to join a small select group of French, British, Chinese, and American jewelers.

Wynn Wynn has graduate degrees in business management as well as education, and considers herself a lifelong learner. She loves to cook, travel, write, design interiors, and collect art, but it is her family and her jewelry designing that make her happiest. She works daily with the small team of artisans that she personally selected and trained from various non-jewelry-related backgrounds, in her serene jewelry studio not far from her house. Access to it continues to be strictly by-invitation-only.

She is also involved with philanthropic organizations such as Hands On Manila, which she co-founded and chaired, and continues to be deeply committed to working with non-profit organizations and actively supporting community-based development.

Married to an investment banker, she and her husband are now grandparents to a grandson each from their son and daughter. This has spurred an enduring interest in studying sustainability of resources and using recycled or recyclable materials in her designs.


Maco Custodio

Graduating with a degree in Industrial Design, Maco Custodio quickly found his calling in shoes. Early on, his obsession with shoes knew no territorial-boundaries, taking him to China to deepen his shoemaking-lexicon. By the time he returned to the Philippines, he had become an expert in the nitty-gritty of shoemaking. Yet, it was the stories that his designs told which first charmed Custodio to create shoes. “I don’t see my shoes as being different from the rest, technically. I can [only] say that my shoes are different because each shoe I design has a story and a soul.”

He launched his first shoe line, MACO CUSTODIO, in 2008, focusing on women platform shoes. Then in 2013, he introduced his own brand of baby and toddler wingtip shoes named MACOlit. In these capacities, he instilled his work’s story and soul in the clean lines and stable anatomy of his designs. Custodio, who doesn’t stray too far from his roots as an industrial designer, admits that he “likes to play with lines” which he finds particularly architectural about his work.

His shoes have left its footprints domestically and internationally, with notable exhibitions in Japan and the United Kingdom. However, his gusto for design has recently calibrated his focus toward bags. “I’m always willing to learn new techniques and get my hands on new materials.” His most recent designs, which incorporate themes of eco-sustainability and social-responsibility, narrate the stories of the empowered female weavers who weave his drawings into bags using up-cycled sheets of foil.

Each of his designs focuses on telling and preserving whatever story and soul Custodio intends for it, but he believes his purpose as a designer is much simpler: “I think when you are a designer by heart, your essence really is to create things.”

 


Natalya Lagdameo

Drawing from her work as an interior designer and coming across collections of furniture, heirlooms and artifacts from around the archipelago- along with the history that comes with these pieces- taking note of all the stories, details, patterns and symbolisms that were represented by these pieces as these were tell-tale signs of provenance, age and use. This is what led to her greater appreciation for the local jewellry traditions, both pre-colonial and colonial, that spoke of artistry, devotion and impeccable skill. It wasn’t long after that she decided to create her own designs utilizing original components such as tamburin beads, relicarios, crosses and chain patterns alongside tribal pieces like mother of pearl, wood and bone – in a modern aesthetic yet still in respect to the traditional format.

Beyond the visual factor of these pieces, material plays a key role in the line as Lagdameo strives to maintain these to be locally sourced. Compositions made from brass, bronze, silver and gold paired with shell, pearls, stones and local weaves like pina and jusi, the collection takes on a distinct personality very much like our own – a mix of the old traditions and current sensibilities.


Common Threads

CommonThread is a multi brand store that carefully selects local and international labels with interesting stories and well-made products. CommonThread is collaborating with like-minded brands to create distinct accessories and clothing using fabric trimmings from Elements.