Wisdom of Tribes

Cultural heritage | noun | the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.

When you draw upon heritage, you draw from collective wisdom through the ages. The benefits of creating design from heritage are many.

The Santamaria Basket Stool by Ito Kish exemplifies creative functionality derived from heritage. Santamaria is both stool and basket, both indoor and outdoor furniture. Its lid is cushioned for comfortable seating. The product is made of intricately woven material to withstand rain and sun. Natural coloured varieties have a leather- or rattan-like look while pink, avocado and denim blue ones are playful and vibrant. Black and white is a Singapore favorite for it evokes the colonial home.

The seat-sized Ito Kish Santamaria basket 

Santamaria derives its design from a tribal harvest basket called a tingkop. The Tagbanua tribe of Palawan traces its origins to hunter-gatherer migration from Polynesia. They are one of Southeast Asia's oldest surviving tribes. As they settled into agriculture, the Tagbanuas made baskets like the tiny three-inch tingkop for storing rice seeds.

Ito Kish remarks of his design process, "It was important that the weaving patterns by the Tagbanua were very similar. Although the original material used for basket was palm leaves which made it easy for weaving but with the use of PE plastic the weave was combined with some modern patterns like houndstooth and chevron pattern to give it a contemporary look. The shape is very similar to the original baskets." 

The original baskets have a tiny, almost fabric-like quality. Insanely thin and flat palm leaf strips are woven tight. Not a broken rice seed slips out. Bigger versions continue to be made for harvest. But as for the tingkop, only a handful of tribesmen with the skill and patience required are left.

Tingkop baskets weather sun and rain. They will see many planting, harvesting and storing seasons. It is this kind of longevity and spirit we at D&A seek in our pieces.