Wooden wonder

In 2014, Jhan Eduarte – who used to be in the business of selling used cars, while also working as a ghost writer of articles for an online site – has a kidney problem that forced him to stay at home for months. It was at that time when, while surfing the Internet, he came across Japanese wooden furniture designs na “masyado akong nagandahan sa pagiging simple (that I found inspiring because of their simplicity),” he recalled, adding that he was always impressed with the minimalist Japanese designs since “although kakaunti ang gamit na nasa isang (there aren’t a lot of furniture in a) Japanese living room, everything has a purpose.”

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And so Jhan entered the world of furniture making; his first “client” was his family, re-decorating the interior of an old stockroom in their house. Mimicking Japanese designs he found online, he used scrap materials (“Similar to those used in the photo,” he said) that he bought from people selling such from demolished buildings.

In all, Jhan was able to make a Japanese-style low table using plaster board from old demolished building offices; a bowl using a cover of their old florescent light; flooring using secondhand office carpet (worth P5 each); and small accent table from an old cable container. “Who would have thought na pwede magpaganda ng isang lugar o bahay (that you can beautify a place or a house) without spending much? All in all, from that experience, I spent less than P1,000.”

His experimentation continued; until a friend saw what he was doing, and then told him: “Bakit di mo subukang pagkakitaan ang talent mo (Why don’t you try earning from your talent)?”

This was also when Jhan discovered a wood burning method popularized in Japan, making his pieces pop out by giving them character.

Three years seem like a lifetime, as Jhan has now found his stride as a furniture maker, having serviced numerous clients, from restaurants/café owners to homeowners.

He specializes in using reclaimed wood from pallet (or paleta, thus the business name, “Pallet on Fire”). Pallets are, by the way, made from pine (palochina), red oak, cedar, cherry, maple and plum (“All of them are hardwood except palochina,” Jhan said). He also makes everything by hand.

A challenge for him, he admitted, is the turnover, with some clients ordering up to 20 sets of dining tables and chairs to be finished in just a week. And since he’s Marikina-based, there are still logistical challenges for a small businessman like him.

Perhaps just a big a challenge is the Pinoy penchant for “nakasanayan (what one is used to).” “There’s only a handful of people who are looking for different kinds of furniture designs,” he said. “More people are still more into conventional designs.”

But Jhan’s somewhat newfound love – i.e. furniture making – has now become an advocacy for him, too. Again inspired by the simplicity of the Japanese aesthetic/design, he said: “Kayang gawing elegant ang isang bagay (you can make something elegant) without spending too much.”

For more information about Pallet on Fire, visit HERE.

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About the Author

Believing that knowing on its own is not good enough, "you have to share what you know, too", Mikee dela Cruz gladly shares through his writing. A (BA) Communication Studies graduate, he had stints with UNAIDS, UNICEF and Ford Foundation, among others, writing "just about everything". Read on as he does some sharing through Zest Magazine.

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