Rachelle Dagñalan Takes Us to Albay Through Product Design

Young product designer Rachelle Dagñalan takes us to Albay, her hometown, to showcase the newest designs of one of the fine crafts of the province: ceramics. By Mavic Conde

Rachelle Dagñalan Takes Us to Albay Through Product Design
Award-winning product designer Rachelle Dagñalan has transformed her hometown of Albay's product, Tiwi ceramics, into attractive collectibles.

Posh, minimalist decors. Tableware in summer mist. Forward-looking novelties. Locals and ceramics experts have never seen the likes of these from local artisans… until now. Together with the Tiwi local government, the Philippine Ceramics Arts and Crafts Center (commonly known as PhilCeramics) in Putsan, Tiwi, Albay unveiled its newest collections in November last year with product designer Rachelle Dagñalan at its helm.

The 26-year-old, award-winning designer takes us to her roots–in Albay–with yet another collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry-Albay (DTI-Albay).

Her design skill and product development training, combined with her intimate knowledge of Albay (her hometown), made her the top choice for this project–and she did not disappoint. She transformed a common Albay product, Tiwi ceramics, into attractive collectibles.

Rachelle Dagñalan Takes Us to Albay Through Product Design

Tiwi as a destination

Tiwi is an hour drive from Legazpi, the capital city of Albay. It was once known for hot springs, while outdoorsy types will gravitate towards the local marine sanctuary, which is accessible via Corangon Shoal. It’s also a pilgrimage site with Our Lady of Nuestra Señora de Salvacion (Albay Patroness) enshrined in the century-old Joroan Parish.

Local specialties include DJC halo-halo and ceramics, the latter of which, according to Dagñalan, is one of the fine crafts of Tiwi.

Design as a solution

Dagñalan’s 100+ new ceramic designs are modern, minimalist, and highly in-demand to accessorize homes and interiors.

The color choices are market-driven too, including trend forecasts for 2019-2020.

Together with ten, all-male select skilled potters in Tiwi, they worked on the new designs, which matched their skills and specialties.

“These will be useful for the decor and furnishing needs of local hotels, restaurants, resorts, and also souvenirs for tourists, while the color selections must fit styles of homes and spaces that would likely require these kinds of furnishings,” says Dagñalan.

Rachelle Dagñalan Takes Us to Albay Through Product Design

Rachelle Dagñalan Takes Us to Albay Through Product Design

Showcasing her personal roots

While she has designed for many manufacturers in other regions, being an Albayano, she feels that she owes it to her hometown to contribute to the community ahead of other local interests.

Thanks to the special setting she initiated in 2015 at Manila FAME, called Crafts of Albay, she’s able to assess areas for improvement and attain a better understanding of the limitations. They include the need for proper packaging, reliable logistics, and finishing techniques applicable to the terracotta clay in Tiwi.

Rachelle Dagñalan Takes Us to Albay Through Product Design

But the most urgent of them is design.

Once Dagñalan had addressed these concerns, “many designs had been sold out on the spot, and many makers had generated booked orders with the attending hotel buyers during the half-day launched in November,” she told us.

This enthusiasm to showcase her roots and her personal investment in her home province’s traditional crafts-making led to Dagñalan’s most meaningful project yet.

“With this collaboration, I was completely entrusted with the program proposal, and was hands-on from the planning of schedules, suggesting trainings and sourcing supplies needed to make the project more impactful,” she says.

Since Dagñalan also has to manage the marketing of the products and their overall development–it also opened her eyes to other aspects that need polishing. Among them is pushing the potters to consistently replenish new samples for their buyers.

Where to get Rachelle Dagñalan’s ceramic designs

Catch some of these products at Artesania in Arnaiz Avenue, Makati.

Or follow Dagñalan’s brand, Rada Collab, on Facebook for a schedule of upcoming exhibits for Tiwi ceramics. They will also conduct a marketing event, to be scheduled on May 22 to 26, 2019 at the Artesania showroom in Arnaiz Ave., Makati. For parties interested in reselling or commissioning custom-made pieces, email hello@radacollab.com.

Experience pottery making too at PhilCeramics in Tiwi, Albay through an experiential tour. For inquiries, contact the PhilCeramics president Rondio Condat through this number 09054624503. It costs P350-per person, inclusive of 30 minutes to 1-hour use of the potter’s wheel and one potter to assist. The clay costs P15 per kilo.

Photos courtesy of Laurie Mae Gucilatar, Renato Jao, and Rachelle Dagñalan.