“My earliest memories of playthings involved salvaging beautiful objects. I remember covering some walls in our house with beautiful gift wrapping paper that I saved.”
A boyhood spent in rural San Pablo, eighty-eight kilometers south of Metro Manila, did not restrain Kish’s imagination; he found instead in that idyllic environment the many inspirations that would find their way into his award-winning designs. “I paid attention to everything that surrounded me—the market basket and how it was woven, the construction of our dining chair, the print on my mother’s dresses—there were so many things to see and learn from..”
Years later, upon realizing that his first job didn’t offer much in terms of a creative outlet, he sought one for himself. “Although I was in sales, I made sure that my merchandise display stopped customers in their tracks,” he recalls. “It didn’t take long before I was seconded to the merchandising department where I created what to me were important preparations for my career.”
If Kish lacked the resources to start his own business early on, he more than made up for it with creativity and enthusiasm for work. He studied the ropes of retail trade diligently, but also taught himself the rudiments of design.
With money he saved from his salary, he opened a small shop selling home accessories that he found in places he had visited.
By the time he launched his first furniture line in 2012, Kish was already an acclaimed purveyor of fine furniture and accessories sourced from various parts of the globe. The retail enterprise, which he named KISH, has taught him important lessons about design from other cultures, while providing him with a platform to explore and communicate his own artistic vision.
The culmination of this vision is ITO KISH HOME, a design practice dedicated to the recovery and adaptation of indigenous, colonial and modern design and know-how of his native Philippines. “My design will always be about who I am and where I come from,” Kish emphasizes. Applying these to a range of home furniture, furnishings and accessories, Ito Kish has launched thirteen individual collections to date, most of which have won local and international design awards.
Meanwhile, demand for his interior design services was growing steadily, prompting the creation of yet another business, KISH INTERIORS. “As a product designer, I articulate my personal aesthetics, but as an interior designer, I bring out the stories of my clients and reflect them in their own spaces. But in both instances, I am a storyteller whose duty is to breathe life into all these stories within a space.”