By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran
Special Features Writer

THE meteoric rise of the Philippines as an emerging economy meant the global spotlight could remain fixed on it for years to come. But the country’s dynamic market is drawing considerable attention on another front: interior design.

Jerome Michel, president of laminate manufacturer Formica Group for its operations in Asia, described the Philippines as the market to watch over the next decade for its population’s creativity and receptiveness to global design trends.

“I would describe the Philippine market as a ‘boiling market,’ and more creative than all the markets in Asia,” he said, speaking to reporters in a recent product launch at the Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila in Bonifacio Global City.

“I think you have a younger population here that is truly global, exposed to world trends. People like to express themselves in their choices: the way they dress, the way they behave, the way they consume, and the way they build their homes and decorate their interiors,” Mr. Michel said.

Compared with other countries in Asia that are seen as more conservative and resistant to the impetus of global trends, the Philippines is more of an early adopter, curious and hungry for discovering new technologies and new trends, he explained.

“To me, it’s one of the markets where we will need to really look at what’s going on, probably in the next 10 years. Because what will happen in the Philippines will likely spread around,” he added, noting that the Filipinos’ penchant for color and expression will likely influence the company’s own designs in the future.

Much of the Formica Group’s latest residential and commercial collections have taken its inspiration from Asian trends. The newly launched FORMICA FOR MORE and FORMICA FOR ME collections aim to combine “humanities and arts to interior design,” introducing the latest trends in eco-friendly interior décor while incorporating authentic elements suited for the Asian market.

“Over the past five years traveling the world, I see more and more interior designers in global companies coming from Asia — the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore. Step by step we feel that there is a strong trend of designers and artists creating new types of designs made in Asia,” Mr. Michel said.

“Formica products always lead the trends in global interior design, and the launch of FORMICA FOR MORE collection and FORMICA FOR ME collection is a brainchild and a commitment of Formica Asia to create stylish commercial and residential spaces for our clients, as well as satisfying the ever-changing market needs in Asia. In particular, the FORMICA FOR ME collection is a brand new residential design collection specialized for Asian markets. This is the first time for us to launch collections solely tailored to the residential market in Asia,” he added.

The company also claimed its adherence to sustainable and eco-friendly practices in the production of its new laminates, such as reducing carbon emissions, energy consumption, and even transforming recycled waste into new designs. Mr. Michel said the company has made considerable investments in its production capabilities to ensure the safety of workers who manufacture their products and the customers who will use them for their homes and offices.

“As a group of companies, we make sure that we are sustainable. We want to reduce our footprint in the environment,” he said.

Formica is the first company to introduce high-pressure laminates in the Philippines and is a global group of companies consisting of Formica Canada, Inc., Formica Corp., Formica Taiwan Corp., Formica (Thailand) Co., Ltd., and Formica (Asia) Ltd., among others.