Cebu lies at the heart of the Philippine archipelago. It is also the beating heart of the Philippines’ creative industries Through ingenuity, craftsmanship, and hard work, the industries span from the legacy businesses of furniture, fashion, art & crafts to the emerging industries of multimedia art and IT.
Long designated a design capital, Cebu became more internationally recognized when it received several distinctions, such as:
One of the main pillars of Cebu’s creative industries is the Furniture Design & Manufacturing Industry, an industry which is proudly showcased and celebrated around the world. Their creations are constantly featured in various international design and art shows and exhibits, as well as storming the pages of design and architectural books and international magazines. They are known to be flexible, agile, and in creating customer-specific lifestyle furniture and furnishing items. Most of the design and furniture houses export to major markets such as the United States, Europe, United Kingdom and expanding to China, Singapore, and the Middle East, gracing various places including lifestyle stores, luxury homes, hotels, resort and spas, and institutional spaces.
The resiliency and strength of the furniture industry are testaments of the generational skills and craftsmanship of the Cebuanos. Inspiration is strongly drawn from its rich history and diverse cultural exchanges. The main materials utilized are wood, rattan, and plastic weaving. These are often enhanced with various indigenous materials like coconut, bamboo, buri, piña fiber, fossil stone, abaca, weavings (raffia, saguran, seagrass) , and shells (capiz, mother of pearl, pen shell, kabebe). Cebuano craftsmen are also knowledgeable and capable of various techniques and processes, such as veneer marquetry and wood inlays, fabric, leather and parchment wrapped furniture, cast stone and fiber, synthetic fiber weaving, lamination of different indigenous materials, upholstery and cushions, different finishing techniques such as stained, glazed or polished with distressing, crackle, ceruse and gilding applications, metal furniture components such as brass and stainless steel. With such, Cebuano creatives take pride on their legacy and their mastery of techniques and knowledge passed from generations, intertwined from a century of shared experiences and cultural exchange among the network of design houses and craftsmen.
In leveraging strategic location, Cebu remains to be a center of collaboration among furniture makers, not only for exchange of ideas but also for sourcing sustainable indigenous materials. This is facilitated by Cebu’s extensive network of local and international seaports and airport. This offers endless opportunities for the entire creative design industry to transport their products domestically as well as export their products globally. In fact, some of the home accessories manufacturers export their products to big American chains including Walmart and Target, and high end furniture retailers such as Restoration Hardware, Williams-Sonoma, and Crate and Barrel, to name a few. More importantly, this also provides a conducive environment for foreign-owned furniture companies to build factories in Cebu where they can leverage on the talent, capability and mastery of the Cebuanos in creative design. To date, successful locators include Vasacraft, Swiss Sense, Dedon, and SAWO, among others.
To ensure that the industry can leverage existing and emerging opportunities, the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation (CFIF) serves as the primary business support organization for furniture makers across the Visayan region. The foundation serves as the collective voice of industry players as it facilitates forum and other avenues to discuss and resolve industry related issues. The foundation also actively engages its members to various design expo and trade shows to promote the industry. Aside from assisting in the development and promotion of the industry, CFIF also provides capacity building activities to strengthen and sustain skills and craftsmanship. To date, CFIF is currently in touch with TESDA to develop curriculums designed to respond to existing needs of the industry to foster and harness more creative talent in the future. Lastly, to forge stronger business acumen and relations, CFIF will soon launch its marketing program catering to both producers and suppliers.
Today, Cebu’s creative design industry thrives in collaboration and celebrates the convergence of mixed media and creative outlets. This will create and promote the industry through a holistic approach of combining allied creative industries jointly delivering world-class products across the globe, and sustaining the global footprint of Cebu’s creative design industry.