In 2007 Lenora of Filip + Inna met John Robshaw for the first time. Connecting over a love of textiles, Len persuaded Robshaw to visit the weavers she worked with in Mindanao so he could see himself that the tradition of weaving abaca ikat fabric was alive and well in the Philipines. This fateful visit and their common goals were the impetus for the Back to the Loom project. The initiative works to preserve the techniques and culture of weaving by different Philippine indigenous groups. This will include training new weavers and providing assistance like financial support for the weavers to open bank accounts for their businesses. The project will also finance the building of weaving centers in the Philipines with the first being established in Lake Sebu for Yab Man and her daughter Elena, both of whom are Tboli tnalak weavers. In addition to fashion, Filip + Inna has introduced a line of home accessories that showcase the intricate weavings of these groups. We caught up with Len on the status of the centers and the future of Filip + Inna.
How did you end up building a weaving center with John Robshaw?
I met John in 2007 and one of the first things he asked me about was Abac? fibers and textiles. When John visited the Philippines he was able to meet some of the weavers I work with and was very excited to partner with them to build a weaving center for Yab Mann, a master weaver from Lake Sebu in the Southern Philippines.
Are you planning to do a design collaboration with John Robshaw in the future?
Yes, we are talking about it as we plan to build the next weaving center.
What would the inspiration be behind the collaboration?
I hope it will be Filipino inspired!
Can you speak about the Back to the Loom project?
The Yab Mann Weaving Center was built in November of 2013. It's a longhouse, which is traditional Tboli architecture, all constructed of bamboo with a thatched roof. It is something the weavers are proud to call their own and the fact that they rarely build a longhouse these days made it all the more special. The first time I went for a visit, the weavers cried, welcoming and showing me the center. Within a year they have increased the number of weavers from four to eight.
All photos courtsey of filipinna.com
You create both home and fashion pieces, can you talk about the different design processes or maybe how they are very similar?
We share the love for the work of hands but John comes from a perspective of an artist/painter while my design process starts from research and looking at different Filipino traditions, picking out a particular design to build on and intuitively do a more contemporary take on it.
Here at Shop Latitude, we love a beautiful bohemian styled home and the Filip + Inna pieces fit perfectly in that! How would you combine your pieces with other design elements?
Each piece of Filip + Inna has the imprint of hand work so it is easy to mix it up as an accent piece.