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Crafting Light: Lighting fixtures become design pieces through metal weaving

By Angela Casco
Photos by Noel Pabalate

Often, when we talk about lighting for the home, the conversation starts with bulbs—the size, shape, and type of light it emits—and that’s it. To many, lights are nothing more than something that’s switched on and off.

With any home piece, though, comes the opportunity to do more than what it’s made for.

It’s this opportunity to not just brighten, but also liven up the home that local brand Schema takes and maximizes for its creations.

Established in 2013 as a trademark of Kalikasan Crafts, a manufacturing company, Schema specializes in and is known for a signature decorative feature—weaved metal.

It’s a material Kalikasan has been utilizing since it started back in 1994, focusing on export-only holiday decorations, and later homeware like trays and bowls. Today, the Antipolo-based brand uses it for furniture, home accessories, and lighting fixtures, which make up most of its line of products.

LIGHT MASTER Jego Jiao, Schema's chief operating officer; left: Hush Hush lamp, Manila FAME's KATHA Award winner of best product design for lamps and lighting

LIGHT MASTER Jego Jiao, Schema’s chief operating officer; below: Hush Hush lamp, Manila FAME’s KATHA Award winner of best product design for lamps and lighting

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“We try to develop different patterns using woven metal wires [for] our products,” Jego Jiao, Schema’s chief operating officer, tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “We take pride in this know-how because it’s not common that a company is able to weave metal, much less, make it appear as if it were soft like fabric.”

This “know-how” on the malleability of metal wires—galvanized iron, to be specific—along with welding techniques to mimic weaved threads are on full display in any and every item from Schema. Take the Hush Hush lamp, for instance. It’s the KATHA Award winner for best product design for lamps and lighting at the 70th Manila FAME last October.

“Normally, we only do one weaving style and color for our lighting fixtures’ interior and exterior,” Celia Jiao, brand founder and designer, previously said. “For this product, however, we used two different kinds of weaves and colors in one, setting it apart from the many designs we’ve done in the past.”

WORLD CLASS Schema's lighting fixtures, such as the Petiole suspension lamp (middle) and the Zattelite pendant lamp (right), are now making a 'bright' impression in the world market

WORLD CLASS Schema’s lighting fixtures, such as the Petiole suspension lamp (below) and the Zattelite pendant lamp (bottom), are now making a ‘bright’ impression in the world market

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This approach, according to the younger Jiao, is a norm at Schema.

“We try to see how we can innovate [and] where else we can establish something new in terms of design,” he says. “From there, we try to explore what new forms, patterns, and structures we can create.”

Apart from Celia, the brand collaborates with a number of designers including Budji Layug, Stanley Ruiz, as well as foreign creatives Anon Pairot and Segolene Aebi-Faye.

Those who bring the designs to life, however, are right inside Schema’s workshop and headquarters in Antipolo.

“All of our products are handcrafted by our artisans who we have been working with for so many years,” the COO says. “I think it’s because of the experience of our artisans that we are also able to offer unique, handcrafted pieces.”

Schema’s artisans—coming from different provinces like Laguna, Rizal, and Mindoro—are all skilled in welding, as well as finishing processes like painting. Jiao works with them closely to discuss whether designs are doable or not.

“It’s very common for us to have an idea and for it to not come to life because it’s just not possible to execute,” he says. “We discuss with the artisans to see what’s the most efficient and effective way to execute what’s needed and wanted for the concept.”

Once adjustments are made official, the team breaks down the production process so that artisans can focus on a specific part. The combination of these processes at the end of production creates the piece.

Despite their attention to metal weaving as a decorative feature of their lighting fixtures, Schema makes sure not to neglect functionality. For the brand’s COO, this is an aspect of designing that needs settling even before thinking of what metal weaving pattern to do for as “a product, without function, is not a product at all.

“When we develop a piece, it’s function that we finalize first,” Jiao says. “With lighting, we take into consideration the light source to use, how we will suspend the lamp, how clients can replace the light bulb, and also how the piece will be installed or used.”

For their flat-shaped lamps like the Linear lamp, Jiao says the intent has been to explore silhouettes that don’t take up a lot of space, a response to shrinking homes in the city.

SETTING A STATEMENT A dining area becomes more elegant with Schema's drop lamps

SETTING A STATEMENT A dining area becomes more elegant with Schema’s drop lamps

Designing around function can help not only the brand in conceptualizing new pieces, but also homeowners who are looking to upgrade the look of the home and are mindful of maintenance woes.

“If it’s the dining area or common area, then the light source must be easily replaceable for maintenance purposes,” Jiao says. “[It] must also provide good lighting for the user because these spaces are normally where people interact.”

Schema’s metal weaving blends well with the LED bulbs it uses. “I say this because, as mentioned earlier, the metal weaving we do make the metal look almost like fabric and therefore, also translucent and see-through,” he says. “When you translate this metal weaving into lighting, it allows the light to shine through the product. Its distinct feel
is an added bonus, too.”

This year, Schema plans to continue doing what they know best—standard-setting pieces and superb craftsmanship, only in more locations.

“We’d like to expand our presence locally. We’re likely to open a showroom other than our Pasig location,” Jiao says. “Our direction now for design, meanwhile, is to incorporate materials that work well with our metal weaving.”



Source: Manila Bulletin

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