It was ten years ago, idealistic power couple Ken and Isa Mishuku started a passion project that change their lives forever, from a lone furniture warehouse in Laguna that aims to create mid-century tables, chairs, cabinets, lamps, etc. it became a hit and gain huge following.
The passion was a fruit of their obsession more than a decade ago when they furnished their home and had differing design ideas. Isa wanted something fresh, modern & streamlined, while Ken was into vintage — brick walls, manly leather couches – something that would go with his vintage guitar collection.
They had to look around and dig more items such as vintage, in order to sustain whatever design ideas they have in mind.
“We really had to go deep into sourcing to find something close to what we had in mind. Through these searches I came across this supplier who would bring in vintage leather Chesterfield sofas and in their container, there were also a few vintage modernist pieces that were really just fillers mixed in. Because of that, they were selling it really cheap, possibly because there were very few buyers for those items” Ken says. “
Isa ideas is different from Ken, she was drawn to the more modern stuff that could be mix to achieve vintage feel.
“We were not aware at the time, but we had entered that realm of Mid Century Modern, and we never really left.”
Later on, Ken’s newfound passion led him to find what was being advertised as a vintage 1950s Eames lounge chair being sold online by a local seller. Priced at P40,000 at the time, it seemed too good to be true as similar chairs would go for half a million pesos. The couple took a leap of faith and bought the chair, seeing its potential after some much needed restoration.
“But back then, there wasn’t really a lot of literature about what is and how to distinguish an original piece,” Ken says. “It was our first time to see an Eames lounge chair in person; I just trusted the seller’s word.”
Buying that expensive chair pushed Ken to smarten up, and to know more about chairs and furniture in general. The fake Eames is now stored in their warehouse and the couple has an authentic one in their home.
“We didn’t really think of it as something to sell, just to use personally, for the house,” Ken adds. “Later on, naipon na sa garage, a friend told me about a Facebook furniture buy&sell group, I started selling on that group and I would talk fondly about the pieces, passionately (you could also say nerdy) and I guess it resonated well with collectors; and it grew from there.”
As time goes by, their Mid Century Manila brand has become the go-to place for vintage showcase pieces that can liven up any home or office.
“When you say mid century modern, it’s a mix of organic and aerodynamic shaped wood, steel, moulded plastic and fiberglass that convey lightness and functionality, mostly designed by the World’s Top Architects — which blew up after the war, in the late 1940s to the 1970s, during the rise of mass housing and throughout the space race” Ken explains.
Their “Mid Century Manila” instagram social media page has over twenty thousand followers and anything they post gets sold almost immediately. Browse through the items and one can easily appreciate the effort they put in not only presenting it visually but also in telling the story behind each piece – sometimes how it was acquired, or the process it took to revive the piece, or an interesting backstory on the design of the item.
A regular customer and a close friend to the couple, Monique Teodoro, suggested they put on a furniture exhibit, their very first 60-piece show called CIRCA in collaboration with the Provenance Art Gallery in Shangri-La at the Fort in 2018 was a signature success.
It was followed with a 120-piece show entitled 20th Century Icons of Furniture Design with Proscenium at Rockwell. Then in 2020, despite the pandemic, they put up an even bigger 200 Iconic & Exotic Object Exhibit with Fred Yuson & CWC Interiors in BGC. Since then they have been including a curated mix of Mid Century Modern Pieces for online auctions with Leon Gallery Makati.
Ken and Isa’s passion project is more about allowing Filipinos to be able to own a piece of and have an appreciation for what can be considered functional art.
“The goal at Mid Century Manila is really not money-making,” Isa adds. “It’s really to fuel this active, growing community that is passionate about design. Most efforts are unmeasured, done on the fly, spurred purely to foster engagement and make followers and friends feel included, engaged, like they too are a part of what makes Mid Century Manila work. Sometimes Ken comes up with games, or even just gives items away on the instagram page because he wants everyone in on the fun. “
Still in the midst of pandemic, Mid Century Manila has no plans of slowing down, it has now become a go-to when it comes to mid century modern furniture, all due to the couple’s tireless dedication to simply sharing their passion day-to-day to a community of like-minded individuals.
Don’t miss the 3-day treasure hunting of the finest and limited furniture design of MID CENTURY MANILA that will be auctioned at Leon Exchange Online 20 |16-18 July, 2021 | 11:00am (GMT+8).
Day 1: The Collector’s Vault
Day 2: The Merchant’s Treasure
Day 3: Heiress’ Homes and Tables
View the catalog at: https://leon-gallery.com/…/Le%C3%B3n-Exchange-20th…
Register to bid online at: https://www.leonexchange.com/en/auctions