The Olivia d’Aboville experience

Tsunami Wave, a recent commission by Alveo Land, can be found at the Senta Tower lobby.
Olivia d’Aboville
Olivia d’Aboville

SHE was so busy minding her own business that she wasn’t able to snoop on the latest trends of the recently concluded 60th edition of Manila FAME (Furnishings and Apparel Manufacturers’ Exchange). Not that that should reflect badly on her. She doesn’t follow trends anyway. Her name is Olivia d’Aboville, and this is her experience.

A young French-Filipino artist, d’Aboville graduated with honors from Duperré, a prestigious textile design school in Paris in 2009, where she specialized in tapestry and textile structures and adapted techniques to create her own woven forms. She has been exploring sculpting with textile techniques since then and had her first solo exhibition, Chasm of Fantasies, at the Ayala Museum from July to October 2010. In 2011 she was nominated and short-listed for the Ateneo Art Awards.

Her projects are usually an accumulation of diverse mass-produced objects. From plastic spoons to pins and water bottles, d’Aboville is fascinated by the ordinary. Thus she manipulates and recycles materials to create new work.

For every interesting element that inspires her, she asks herself: What can I do with this? Can I cut it, bend it, heat it, stretch it, accumulate it and create a new form? We recently talked with d’Aboville about her experience in a recent edition of Manila FAME, a trade fair on local design with an export-oriented and global mind-set.


Please describe your project.

Neo Textiles Philippines is an initiative put up by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (Citem) and the Department of Trade and Industry to promote contemporary Philippine textiles. This year was the second edition, following the successful launch in October 2013.

I was assigned by Citem to design and curate this special platform. I worked with three weaving centers—one in Bukidnon, one in Iloilo and one in Bohol—each with their distinctions and focus on a particular fiber or technique.

Bukidnon is known for their hinabol textiles made from abaca, Iloilo is famous for its hablon textiles, and Bohol for their use of raffia. I designed new textile collections which were then used for various products.


What was the feedback from buyers?

We had overall good feedbacks from buyers. It’s great to be able to tell the story of the textiles and share the experience of the program and partnership with the weavers. The rolls of fabrics received a lot of attention, as well as smaller items such as soft baskets and placemats.

What issues did you come across?

Hand-woven textiles take time to produce and I feel we were too rushed. I think the program needs to start much earlier to leave room for proper textile and product development.
How should next editions of Manila FAME be organized to better represent you as an artist-designer?

Perhaps, the promotion could be pushed further at an international level, as well as locally.


What new design trends and forecasts did you see?

I was actually quite busy at the Neo Textiles special setting, so I wasn’t able to check out much of what was exhibited at Manila FAME. But there was a large focus on Philippine textiles in this edition, which was great. Our neighbors displayed a large selection of fabrics from the Cordillera and Ilocos Norte. I’m happy Philippine textiles got a lot of attention. Hand woven textiles are definitely a luxury item because of the process, labor and creativity behind each piece.

Have you ever worked in fashion?

I would definitely love to collaborate with a fashion designer to create sculptural pieces to wear.

Perhaps one day.

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