Earlier this year, as borders became less permeable and international travel almost impossible, Seph Bagasao found himself stuck in San Francisco. He saw his trip extended by months. In the middle of much uncertainty, he needed to keep to a routine, a working rhythm, and cultivate a sense of home on the other side of the globe.
Finally back to the Philippines, Seph was confronted by the reality here. Everyone, though overwhelmed, were trying to fight the onset of the pandemic. Fashion houses redirecting operations to make personal protective gears and face masks. Bagasao contributed to this, but still, we wanted to make something that can uplift spirits in such a time. We believe that intuitive creation is a good way out of a rut.
Scent has always been a strong way to stir up emotions. It is deeply connected to the part of the brain processing memories. In his time in the Bay Area, Seph was reminded of how much a fragrance, a candle, a special light can completely turn up a room and change the vibe. He took this experience and rehashed it within a Bagasao framework.
“I wanted to translate one of my coping mechanism during this ordeal,” Seph shares. “I wanted to reach out to our audience, and have a part in making the normal everyday quarantine life an experience, based on what I personally did in my own space.”
This collection of scented candles is an artisanal creation inspired by the places he visited in the States. Highway 1 has notes of Sage, Lemon, Vetiver, and Patchouli, reminiscent of the saline Pacific breeze, while Bodega is slightly muskier with Sandalwood, Oakmoss, and Amber. Formulated with soy wax and organic essential oils then finished with soot-minimizing eco wicks, it is also low-impact and consciously made.
Pouring our hearts into such a concoction, we sought to house it in a special vessel. Early fans of Aly Kangleon’s beautifully crafted ceramics, we reached out to her for this collaboration. The charged aspect of her work, the emotionality resonated with what we were trying to create.
The vases, molded from stoneware with sand, feature a wobbly lip, slight dents on the body, and layered textures achieved through a multi-glazing process. Earthy, primal, and touching in its very human hesitation, they are representative of the qualities we admire in Manibalang ceramics.
With this collaboration, we hope to bring a piece of our craft into your homes. A lightness, an added layer of comfort, maybe something to absently smile to in the quieter moments of the day.
What was it like working together?
Aly Kangleon: It was immensely liberating to work with Seph! Outside of the specific parameters of dimensions (for which I still had some room to wiggle around, to be honest), I was free to make the vessel in however fashion I feel best fits the project. A big chunk of the process was just mood setting, building the mood board together.
He talked about wanting the candle to provide comfort and familiarity, to bring you home. Funnily, around the same time, I was reading a lot of books about the home (House of Memory by Resil Mojares, Too Much and Not The Mood by Durga Chew-Bose, Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilqon, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng).
Throughout the process, Seph was very keen on how i felt about my work, which is a surprise for me. Every time I sent him samples, his first question was always: how do you feel about it? I truly felt seen.
Seph Bagasao: Working with Aly is great! Such a breeze. It was very inspiring and I came out of it more driven. I guess because we both understand the other works and I truly believe in what she does. I just told her why I was making candles and how I wanted to do it and she came back with the vessels so perfect, I knew we were in the same page.
What was your first impression of each other?
AK: Seph is introspective, careful, and deliberate and I think this translates a lot in his work.
SB: She is very true to what she does. No BS.
What does this collaboration mean for you?
AK: This collaboration gave me a lot of insight as to how I want to approach future work. i’ve been feeling a little stuck recently with my ceramics. My mind is constantly whirring with ideas and projects which most of the time just end up pressuring me. Not to mention we are in the middle of a pandemic. This project grounded me and reminded me of the things that I was capable of doing. Working with Seph rubbed off a little of his mindfulness my way and I am now more comfortable, more able to go after my visions.
AB: Collaboration for us is very personal because it has to be meaningful for the brand. It has to not just connect visually but emotionally.