YOU CAN slap the “artisanal” label on anything these days, from bread to soap, no matter how it was made — but what does it really mean? Arte-Fino, a fine crafts fair to be held at Makati’s 8 Rockwell’s penthouse from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, seeks to explore what it really means for something to be “artisanal.”
BusinessWorld attended a preview of the fair last week, and spotted many familiar names, like designer Rhett Eala, who is showcasing shifts with a sketch of a woman’s face, and Monchet Olives, who is, again, releasing a new line of fans. Standouts that we saw were a barong-bomber hybrid made by Jor-el Espina, and intricately embroidered tops made by Gabbie Sarenas. There was also bold and flamboyant jewelry by Farah Abu, which included a necklace studded with semiprecious stones, designed to be worn as a collar.
The familiar names are usually found in the crafts fair circuit, but then, ArteFino only began last year, after co-founder Cedie Vargas left the MaArte Fair, a similar fair held as a fund-raiser for the Museum Foundation of the Philippines. The thrust for ArteFino is different, according to Ms. Vargas. “What we’re trying to put the spotlight on are the artisans and the crafts themselves,” she said in an interview with BusinessWorld.
Over 70 retailers will join the fair, curated and selected by Ms. Vargas, Susie Quiros, Marimel Francisco, Maritess Pineda, and Armita Rufino.
While being selected as a retailer in the fair has its rewards and merits, the fair also creates a symbiotic relationship with the artisan, the buyer, and art itself. “You see how they, as patrons of all these things, are evolving as well, and together with that, the artisans. The art in itself starts to evolve as well,” she said. “ArteFino was actually [made] to be able to create that awareness — not just awareness, but a strong appreciation of things fine, artisanal, handmade.”
As we’ve mentioned before, the word “artisanal” gets thrown around with careless ease these days. Asked to define what “artisanal” really means, Ms. Vargas said, “You tell me.”
“There is some handmade component to it]… there is passion that goes into it,” said Ms. Vargas. “I keep going back to the word ‘authenticity’.
“You will know what it is when you see it.” — Joseph L. Garcia