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Lifestyle and Culture - a peek into the living space of award winning artist Natalie Buijs

It could be a texture of a fabric, a smile on someone’s face, or a drawing your child brings home from school these are all things that have inspired designer and artist Buijs to pick up a paintbrush or a pencil, and start creating.

The end result could be a couch, a painting or a sculpture, depending on what has recently crossed her path of creativity.

This path began in Holland where she studied industrial Design and got her first design job working for Philips, designing domestic appliances.

She soon moved on to designing furniture with the Dutch company Leolux, which several years down the line and a few unexpected twists and turns in the path, she still has a working relationship with. For Buijs, one of the most exciting things about working in Europe was being  able to keep up to date with international design trends by collaborating with other designers and attending the design fairs.  In fact, it was at the 2007 Design fair in Milan that she received a call from her husband and they made a decision to move to manila.

From the Design capitol of Milan o the design world of Manila, it has been an exciting and inspirational journey for Buijs. Not content with sitting In the leafy suburbs, of Ayala Alabang, it wasn’t long before she was out networking and identifying opportunities, meeting  designers and diplomats and being in the right place at the right time. When asked what the key to her success is, despite moving half way across the world and having to re-launch her career, as far as she is concerned it’s about getting out there and making yourself visible. 

To achieve this, she founded her own studio, studio 1five2, in 2007, and since then she has managed to create a design niche for herself and has become a respected and innovative designer in the Manila design scene. The 2011 Manila now! Design fair was her third with the company Designs Ligna for whom she designed several pieces which are sold both locally and exported, and her design and styling for the stand received a nomination for the award of best visual Merchandising.

Designs Ligna (Ligna being Latin for wood) work  predominantly in wood, but Buijs has brought in a more upholstered element with her designs in combination with wood.

As far as she is concerned it is not just about pretty lines and a look, but furniture should also be about comfort – whether a dining room chair or a sofa , the comfort and ergonomics of  the piece are important to her. While local designers tend to design with `hard’ materials such as wood, woven fibres and plastic weaves, she has been able to introduce more upholstered items in combination with these elements for the local market. Her designs tend to be, in her words, `lightweight’.

Instead of being a massive block of furniture, a solid lump of sofa instead becomes something that is more sculptural to look at.

When asked for a tip to buying the perfect sofa, Natalies advice is sit on it . . .not just for a minute, but for a while to make sure it is comfortable.’
Last year was a busy year for Buijs and designs were showcased in several fairs in Manila. The Angono sectional sofa she designed for Designs Ligna was awarded ‘Best Furniture Design’  at the Philippines international furniture show. Also, in 2010 she was asked to represent and promote Dutch Design at the Manila F.A.M.E exhibition by selecting and working with three local companies to create collaboration works such as Fuji three-seater with the company Kalikasan.