With Wilhemina Garcia’s masterly procedure of reconditioning waste into wonder, there is no denying how Junk Not! persists in the coalescence of their two favorite concepts: greening and interior. “Every piece has a story to tell,” said Garcia after her win at the Metrobank Arts and Designs Excellence (MADE) in 2007. Two years after—along with Fiona Ting whom she met at the same contest—Junk Not! began to live up to its name. First, by producing bags and accessories, and eventually, to progressing to functional furniture concentrated on environmental impact and community livelihood.
Junk Not! endeavors to go beyond their purpose of designing furniture into becoming a social enterprise. The brand collaborates with an underprivileged community and educates them with proper waste management. Resources that often go neglected are then utilized in the manual production process—stored up, scrubbed, trimmed, and twined so nothing goes to waste—and the adopted community gets paid for the manufacture, as well as the return of the sales. This movement continues to grow from having only 4 women in 2015 to 65 in the present context. “They become the green champion of their community.”
Emphasizing sustainability that still holds an equilibrium with function and aesthetic may seem like it requires a demanding process, yet Garcia executes it with unique refinement. Comparing her expertise in interior designing with bringing a canvass into life, she manifests her design principle and philosophy in the brand. “I do a lot of up-cycling like refurbishing and checking [my clients’] attics and bauls for accessories. I feel like a home should reflect the people who live in and tell their stories in each piece that you put,” she says.
The brand takes pride in their own definition of purposeful design. The production of a quality piece does not end with mere profit and praise. “What is good for the people should also be good for the environment,” Garcia decrees. Although several consumers may find the furniture line a few ranks up in their budget line, how the furnishings were made and how well it impacts the adopted community and the environment hold all the difference as compared to mass-produced furniture.In their interior design methodology, they take accountability of the carbon footprints they leave behind, of the production process, and of its further ramifications to the community and the environment—utterly setting Junk Not! into the deserved lime light.
The homegrown brand recently made waves in the European design scene during its participation as an up-and-coming brand in Paris Design Week and the Conscienza Festival in Belgium. On the relevance of the role of Filipinos in taking part in the global conservation efforts, she reveals: “The sad truth is that the Philippines is one of the top three countries that contribute to pollution in the ocean. It is embarrassing to be known for that. In response, a lot of Filipinos are now making initiatives to fight this issue, and Junk Not! is just one of many. I always believe in the saying: ‘There is no such thing as waste, only resources out of place.’ Through sustainable design and community involvement, we design for good.”