Home Inspiration: Ilocos Norte Style

Thinking these are synthetic seashells? Ohh no no! These are REAL SEASHELLS!

Wow! Another piece that I love.. a hanging lamp made of dried onion skins.. YES ONION SKINS!

Wall décor made of pieces of wood

Ohh the stylish Marcos couple.

just a quick selfie!

While debate about Filipino identity rages on, Ilocano identity has always been distinct, coherent and indubitable. Ilocos Norte’s style and design aesthetic embody the identity, and makes it foray in Manila FAME with a lifestyle collection.

This lifestyle exhibition seeks to highlight three themes that have dominated life in modern Ilocos Norte. First, work and the much-vaunted industry of Ilocanos is celebrated by showing new workspace ideas, multi-tasking furniture, tools, machines and beasts of burden not hidden away but displayed with pride. But the secret to all that Ilocano hard work is the afternoon nap-siesta power that lies in the traditional butaca, the mariposa loveseat, the dap-ayan and indayon found throughout Ilocos Norte.

Second, Ilocanos travel and migrate for jobs to every corner of the world – so that luggage, lacasa chests, baskets and an inevitable balikbayan box comprise part of every home’s design mix. Finally Ilocanos truly believe that the best things in life are free, or at least aren’t that costly: the great and little pleasures of reunited families; a unique gastronomy; and nature’s gifts of bonsai and bougainvillea, dramatic rockery and sand, and wind harnessed for energy and for sport.

The goal is that artisans and designers everywhere will be inspired by Ilocano style – and the simple notions of Ilocos Norte’s hardy farmers that may be show the way towards a global, resilient and compassionate modernity. Perhaps one day every home will have something Ilocano too—a warm blanket, an all-purpose chair or that precious wooden table.

What elements distinguish Ilocano Style?

A Spartan simplicity identifies Ilocano houses and furnishings, positing geometry, symmetry, and sparseness against the more typical Filipino taste of embellishment. But Ilocano design is not merely plain or bereft of adornment, as it impresses instead with scale and proportion-those noble, vast, inspirational buildings, standing tall in oft-barren landscapes. There is also an insistence on the use of rare and precious materials: kamagong and molave floors, silk and natural fibers handwoven into blankets, gold, Venetian beads and enamel for jewelry. Their intrinsic worth may be why Ilocanos reused and upcycled materials long before it was fashionable, long before there even existed jargon to describe habits that seemed only frugal and out of date.

But in Ilocano design, amid the simplicity and rigor, suddenly and sometimes shockingly, a flamboyant artistic statement spears out of nowhere: giant swirls carved into the stone of Paoay’s buttresses, an extravagant explosion of stars in the humble binakol weave, a wicked and painstakingly carved demonyo (devil) in the center of an altar table. Humor and swagger, secret extravagances, a preternaturally modern appreciation of the casual and undone, or works in progress forever unfinished, of beauty in the raw and the natural-these all have come to characterize style in Ilocos Norte.

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