Candles lit the way to a range of artisanal home goods of Artis Collective, as it represents some of the best from the Philippines' Bicol Region and beyond.
Barkada, an untranslatable Filipino word, embodies the concept of a close-knit group of friends, often connoting ideas of youth, juvenile adventure, and a sense of discovery. For those older and well into adulthood, it's a sense of nostalgia and homecoming — a safe space with a shared journey.
Artis Collective, adorning homes with their range of vintage-inspired home goods handmade from tropical materials, was started by a barkada of three when Tina, Carla, and Steph, college friends who met in 2006, reunited in the height of the pandemic in 2021.
During that time, thanks to the stay-at-home mandates, the three connected over three different time zones — Manila, Macau, and Dubai — but they only had one place in mind: their native Bicol.
The Bicol Region consists of six provinces at the southernmost segment of Luzon Island, one of the Philippines' three major island groups. With its north and south borders kissed by seas and graced by lush forests as well as the iconic Mount Mayon (one of the world's most perfectly conical volcanoes), the region is renowned among Filipinos for its distinct cuisine, thanks to its favorable and flavorful terroir.
The friends, however, dreamed of putting their beloved homeland on the map for different, and less edible, but equally-exciting reasons.
In 2021, Steph and her sister Shiela delved into the world of fragrance oils, a time when people were indulging in handicrafts to pass the idle hours of lockdown as many have became overnight baristas, bartenders, and artisans, discovering new passions and skills.
Despite the country reopening as restrictions eased, Steph persisted with her newfound love and it became a vehicle for reconnecting with Carla and Tina all whilst others found new hobbies, now being able to finally step outdoors.
Artis Collective launched with soy wax scented candles as well as room and linen sprays from Steph and Shiela's pandemic forays into fragrances. The process of creating and blending scents using fragrance oils has always been a form of therapy for the team, both then and now as the team shares, "We create and blend the scents ourselves, you can't imagine how many scents exist by blending fragrance oils!"
They now include a wide range of practical yet pleasing home decor and kitchenware with a blend of vintage inspirations crafted to contemporary tastes.
For Artis Collective, there's a beat and rhythm to crafting as they share that they work best — be it from product planning, to workshop sessions, and all the way to product shoots — with music in the background, all despite differing tastes.
This concept of 'unity amidst diversity' is intricately woven into every craft they create, resulting in functional Filipino art pieces that are equally at home in a boutique beachside hotel or an art gallery.
From their exquisitely crafted trays and baskets that can hold jewelry or be used to serve drinks, to their elegant sets of plates and coasters, their creations are designed with care and attention to detail, adding a touch of sophistication to any space.
"It all comes down to quality, we make sure to provide a product that's worth what the customer is paying for.”
To date, they have since expanded to include other home decor and essentials but the team is also looking to expand their repertoire to fashion such as handmade bags and accessories.
Nevertheless, there is much thoughtfulness that goes into each piece, as "every time we'd like to launch a new product, we'd talk about how it should fit and look like on any type of home, how it will be used and decorated."
Ultimately, Artis Collective only make and share with their patrons what they themselves would enjoy, and in the process they are not just living their dreams but sharing them as well.
Music, and beach houses, these are their inspirations and the three often chat over plans for their dream houses such as, “how we would want them to look like, the type of home decor and interior design. All the products that we sell are what we'd love to have in our future homes!” .
Artis Collective, as its name implies, consists not just of the trio, but their collaborators as well, and as such, they want to ensure that budding artisans and hidden living treasures continue to do the things they love most all while their patrons continue to enliven their abodes with Artis pieces.
"We are shaped by our community," the trio muses, "and as we grow and improve, we also bring our community along with us."
As a matter of fact, their community extends beyond human members to include the flora and fauna endemic to tropical countries, such as rattan and mother-of-pearl. These natural resources are the prime contributors to Artis Collective's growth, as the health of the forests and seas directly impacts the health of the Collective and the larger world.
It goes beyond the locale and beyond the local, too, when they say that "Not only Bicol but other parts of the Philippines have an ocean of handicrafts made from endemic materials thus making our products distinct in the world. The basic materials are grown only in a tropical country in conditions as unique as ours, making the style one of a kind."
The interaction between the friends, their community, and their shared environment, fueled by their love and longing for their lush and living homeland, is the spirit that animates Artis Collective. After all, the Bicol Region, boasting 30% of its land dedicated as public forests, with its lakes and mountain vistas drawing visitors in, is a great constant source of inspiration for their craftsmanship.
Art, the process and the product, for the trio and their collaborators is "simply the appreciation of the things around us and a manifestation of the human soul." As such, it is truly a collective endeavor that celebrates the harmonious connection between humanity and the environment!