Inspired by nature’s own designs, Joseph Rastrullo creates elegant pieces that combine form and function with remarkable ease.
Finding harmony in exploring form and function is something close to designer Joseph Rastrullo’s heart. Born in the United States and raised in the Philippines, Rastrullo adds to this his education at Italy’s famed Domus Academy, giving him a unique cultural view which reflects in his work.
Rastrullo is now based in the Philippines where his studio designs and produces lighting, furniture, decor and accent pieces. He has experimented with materials as varied as wood, plastic, acrylics, resin and iron. An apprenticeship with legendary Philippine designer Antonio ‘Budji’ Layug pushed him to hone his craft and focus on form.
Rastrullo’s furniture combines traditional texture with contemporary designs. They are also inspired by nature. The Farfalla chair, for example, uses synthetic rattan to create a sensuous butterfly-inspired outdoor chair that bends and twists. The back ‘leg’ of the chair curves like a ballerina poised to take flight. The La Donna adjustable chaise lounge chair is also made of synthetic rattan making it ideal for outdoor use.
The Manolo reminds one of a large leaf bowl but is actually a very comfortable-looking chair and is made out of laminated rattan. The Manolo comes in a chair or couch version. The Manta chair, on the other hand, is immediately identifiable as evolved from the Manta Ray. The floppy edges of the ray translate rather well to a piece of furniture. Made out of rattan and iron, the La Manta was designed for the March 2014 Manila Fame show.
Keeping with the animal theme, the Ragno is evidently inspired by a spider web. Using abaca rope, the design brings a little bit of nature right into your home.
Inspired by the 2000-year old Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines, Rastrullo designed a series of furniture and accents using the shapes and curves of the terraces. The theme of the Banaue series is called Raccolta, which is Italian for ‘harvest’. On his travels, Rastrullo was so taken by the rice terraces that he made several subsequent trips. The forms seeped into his design and the series has a coffee table/bench and lighting made out of welded bent wires and iron. There’s also a twisty ‘artistic’ coffee table made from Permacane.
The Terremoto table is inspired by the Lego movie – the table top is actually a real puzzle that you can move around for hours of fun. It is a fun idea that can be used to keep not only kids but also adults busy. Rastrullo’s design for lighting have received acclaim for their innovativeness and experimentation with materials.
The Terza series of lights is made of acrylic and formed by hand. The smoothness of the material and the soft fall of the curves make it look like a handkerchief of silk.
The Sole light is a more dramatic design which demands your attention right away. It is Rastrullo’s version of a sunburst. The 2m x 5m sized design has woven wicker ‘rays’ which make it sculptural enough to work as a wall piece or as a hanging pendant light.
The Linea collection features the ‘Ombrello’ light made of welded iron bars. The crisp lines of the design were executed by the Prado Filipino Artisans. Contrasting with the strict geometry of the Linea collection is the Rompere. A crazy, eccentric design of fibreglass and acrylic spikes, this entertaining piece adds a definite character to a space.
Along with designing Rastrullo has also been working with local crafts people across the Philippines to help them maintain a sustainable livelihood and develop their craft. For someone who is influenced by local traditions and craftsmanship, there may be no better way of giving back.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer