Since taking off in 2005, Team Manila has undoubtedly helped make the urban capital a place of pride for Filipino youth despite its many shortcomings. Using graphic interpretations of Filipino childhood and contemporary lifestyle staples, the graphic design brand presents Manila’s hustle and bustle as a particularly attractive and colorful aspect of the city’s culture and turns nostalgia into positive identity-affirmation.
They’ve applied a similar approach towards shifting perspectives in the sphere of local furniture design with Kubular. With a manifesto that states, “We exist to give you a different angle, another line of living,” the furniture brand adds a contemporary-looking, sustainable, and flexible flavor to the current selection of Philippine-made interior pieces. Though the graphic slant that Team Manila is known for is ingrained within the Kubular aesthetic, it’s more grownup and sophisticated in its comparatively subdued appeal.
There are still fun details, though: wheeled table legs, the wheeled wooden boxes that serve both as low tables and storage space, made to look like a touring artist’s luggage, and the pops of color on metal shelves. Geometry, wood, and steel are grounding elements of Kubular’s designs—undoubtedly utilitarian in slant yet can surprisingly conform to plenty of aesthetic ideas because of their appealing cleanliness and simplicity.
TeamManila co-founder Mon Punzalan tells more of the brand that is a sleeper hit among design enthusiasts, the young and not-so-young alike.
When and how did Kubular come about? What sparked the idea that Team Manila could branch into furniture design?
“Kubular started when people began noticing the furniture in our Team Manila office. People like friends and clients would ask where we had purchased our tables and desks, and would be surprised to know that they are our own [creations]. Kubular is a translation of Team Manila designs as it reflects the same graphic elements we work on.
“At first, we were hesitant to go into the furniture business because I myself never understood [why people would spend] Php20,000 on a table. But with our first collection (released inn 2011), we found out that when something is made well with quality materials, people with disposable income find value in it, even when the price is a bit steep.”
How independent is it from the Team Manila brand in terms of marketing and target audience?
“Kubular is a separate brand from Team Manila though it shares the same aesthetic when it comes to design: each is packaged with good look and taste. It isn’t exactly upscale but it is safe to say that our products are very modern-looking and is high on quality with a reasonable price.”
Has the Kubular industrial/utilitarian aesthetic of “raw”-looking wood mixed with metal always been the idea for the brand, or were there other styles that the team explored first?
“We experiment with various styles but the mix of wood and metal will always be a staple. We upcycle materials, mixing the old with the new, which allows us to create various furniture designs suited for Kubular.”
Where do you source the materials used for the furniture?
“We find the wood randomly, so when a client asks for something just like our display pieces, the result would be a bit different. Most of our materials come from old houses. This is where we collect old wood, which we turn into Kubular pieces. It makes Kubular a cut above the rest.
Who are the Kubular designers?
“No one in particular. Kubular designs are based on inspiration and random ideas we acquire over time.”
What kind of crowd has Kubular attracted?
“They’re a variety of people, from advertising agency folks to musicians to local celebrities, even businessmen. Steven Cua once asked for our help with two pieces in particular, and [cinematographer and director] Lyle Sacris and [Taken By Cars drummer] Bryan Kong had commissioned us to make custom-made vinyl racks that look like a musician’s flight case. We’ve also outfitted condo display rooms of real estate companies and personal spaces of young professionals.”
The brand released its second collection LightStyle middle of last year. Can people look forward to new lines or collections in the near future?
“Nothing is in our timeline but our Suez and Zapote Gallery always has stock of Kubular products. Usually, new Kubular items are based on customers’ requests. They can always ask us to customize furniture, but of course we would still include the Kubular DNA.”
Kubular’s showroom is located at 2631 Suez cor. Zapote Sts, Makati.
This story originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of Garage Magazine.