Some would refer to him as a furniture designer, but Niccolo Jose said he prefers to be called a sculptor because that is what he does: he sculpts recycled wood, sourced mostly from old houses and riles ng tren, into beautiful pieces of furniture.
“I’m really a sculptor,” remarked the 26-year-old artist who studied Studio Art and Environmental Studies at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon for five years.
Returning to the Philippines, he began making what he calls 'figurative sculptures" and then ended up making furniture for himself.
Among his first projects were his own bed,first projects were his own bed, book shelf, and study table.
Eventually, he put up his present business, crafting unique furniture pieces and functional art pieces with discarded and recycled wood that's between 50 to 300 years old.
He related that some of the wood materials are so old and termite-infested, that these have to be treated and dried first.
WHERE HE GETS THE WOOD. Niccolo said no trees were cut down because he is a collector of useful "junk."
He began with a warehouse stacked with wood gathered by his father, who is an engineer by profession but whose hobby is carpentry. His father has been collecting old wood since Niccolo was five years old.
In fact, their family’s vacation home in Lipa, Batangas—where Niccolo is now based—is made from old wood.
When Niccolo returned from the US, he saw all the wood his father had been keeping and, because of his training as an environmentalist, he decided to add value to what others would consider as trash.
“It was there when I came back,” said Niccolo. “It was a whole warehouse full of wood that my father had collected. There were old doors, mga old floorings, mga sidings ng bahay, mga trimmings.
"He wanted to make houses out of it, mga vacation houses for people, that’s what he wanted, but he never had a chance.
"He realized how hard it is because of the process you have to go through. And unless you’re gonna build another house, there’s no point in keeping it, right?
"So when I came back here, I actually was the one who took the materials and made something out of it.”
In December last year, Niccolo staged an exhibit of his organic sculptures and artistic functional furniture pieces inspired by Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice in Wonderland.
This year, he is staging another exhibit, titled Remnants, featuring creations that will showcase his artistry.
The exhibit is open from August 22 until September 14 at the Altro Mondo Gallery in Greenbelt 5, Makati.