Tacloban Prevails is a furniture line that was conceived due to the desire of one Costa Rican artist to “make something out of debris” or re-purpose furniture from scrap materials. This project aims to give new life to the scrap wood left from the houses of Tacloban's typhoon Yolanda survivors.
The Genius Artist Behind the Project
Mr. Bernardo Urbina is a Pratt Institute graduate of Industrial Design from Costa Rica. He lived in New York City to pursue a career in furniture design and later moved to Milan, Italy to earn a Master's degree in Industrial Design for Architecture. Finally, he moved to the Philippines to work as a senior designer for Vito Selma. While here, he experienced the devastating effects of the 7.2 earthquake and the typhoon Haiyan . It was in Malapascua where he first saw some scraps of wood that he thought would be interesting to reclaim and turn into useful furniture; so, after the typhoon badly hit most parts of the Visayas, he then decided to go to Tacloban to meet the survivors and look for scrap wood for his furniture-making plans. When asked how it felt like going to the worst-hit place and actually seeing their post-Yolanda situation, Bernardo said it was “sobering”.
Once Bernardo found a scrap of wood he liked in the households of Tacloban, he would look for the owner and asked to buy them for whatever price they asked. He clarified that he would only buy the materials that Taclobanons no longer found useful. Also, he took pictures of all individuals who sold him scrap wood so he can put them into picture frames and give them to the future buyers of the finished furniture.
Bernardo has a small production site in Cebu where he conceptualizes, designs, and fabricates his re-purposed furniture. He works with local carpenters and partners with different suppliers for the glass, additional wood, and other carpentry essentials. One of his partners is Bantayan Crafts, a Bantayan-based company that's known for making accessories from scrap materials. This partner is responsible for framing the pictures of the wood's owners from Tacloban.
Exhibit at Qube Gallery
Last September 2-6, he launched an exhibit in Qube Gallery to showcase his works to the public. Most of his furniture were instantly sold! 10% of the sales of each furniture will then go back to the owners of the scrap wood, and this could be one of the most primary reasons the Tacloban Prevails has become such a great hit not just to Cebuanos but to Filipinos around the country who wish to continue extending help to the survivors of typhoon Yolanda. Now, the artist is planning to spend more time making more furniture to showcase during his next exhibit. He'll also be a guest speaker to this year's Manila Fame event happening next month.
The Costa Rican artist is also open to customized orders, provided that the interested buyer gives him ample time to source the perfect wood. He also said he's willing to stay longer in the Philippines as long as there are still people wanting to buy his products.
If you want to get in touch with Bernardo directly and get to know more info about the Tacloban Prevails project, visit http://burbina.com/ or http://taclobanprevails.com/. You may also call 0916-450-0829.
(Credits to Arianne Cristy Tablante for the photos.)