Tag Archives: Minimalism

culture by Nana Caragay

Start Something: Minimalism

Junyee, hailed as The Father of Installation Art in the Philippines, owns only three pairs of pants—and wants to keep it that way

unnamed“That was one of the happiest moments of my life,” 75-year-old Junyee recalls of the day he, as a college student at the University of the Philippines, took nearly every one of his earthly possessions and set them all on fire. “I felt so liberated!”

It marked the start of a creative awakening, for it was also around this time that he came up with his first installation on the school grounds, followed by an outdoor exhibit at Luneta Park. This was back in the 1970s, and no one had yet introduced installation art to Southeast Asia—as such, Junyee has been hailed the Father of Installation Art in the country. Now, his groundbreaking work has been detailed in a new book titled Installations: Wood Things, his first published compendium in a career that has spanned more than 40 years.Junyee-1Another area in which Junyee is a pioneer: his inclination toward minimalism. From that fateful day when he burned almost everything he owned, he has maintained a rotation of just three pairs of pants, three slippers, and three shoes. T-shirts, he does own a few (many of which are corporate giveaways), but he never shops for clothes and even eats with restraint. “I eat for sustenance, not gluttony,” he says, claiming that he takes after his mom, who likewise adhered to a simple life. He opens up about the wisdom behind embracing a minimalist lifestyle and, judging by the bright and lively glow in his eyes, it’s easy to believe he has found the secret to true happiness and success.

Less stuff, less stress. “All the things that you own have strings attached to your soul. That’s why modern people are so tense, so stressed, because they have many strings attached to them—cars, properties. I have very few strings, and I use a very small amount of energy being concerned and worried about those things. I’m a free soul. I don’t have ’yung, naiinggit sa iba. I’ve never had that. Naiinggit ako kapag may isang artist and ang ganda-ganda ng work niya, but other things, it’s okay with me.”junyee-3Think necessity, not pleasure. “I have no email, no Facebook, nothing. It’s a bother to me. Also, eating is a bother for me. Even with food, I am a minimalist. I eat anything, but in moderation; basta busog na ako, okay na ako. If you are a rich man and you can afford to buy 10 cars but you only need one, please buy only one, because what’s the use of nine more cars? It’s because you want—want is endless. Just take what you need.”

It’s not a trend. “I think I was the first environmentalist, long before environmentalism was a fad. But I’m not doing it as a fad. I am doing it because I’m comfortable with it. If you are aware of what environmentalism is, you will reduce everything. Clean living is respect to Mother Earth, because everything you buy or use came from this world. There’s no other planet except this planet, and most of our resources are finite. You are treating the world with respect, and you are contributing to maintaining the environment, which is good for human beings.”junyee-2Remember Henry David Thoreau. “‘And then I let it lie, fallow, perchance, for a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.’ That’s a quote from Thoreau, one of the earliest environmentalists. I cannot express minimalism better than that. For me, it’s a natural tendency. I am not a lecturer; I don’t convince people that they should do this kind of thing. All I can do is tell them that this is a better way of living. It’s very personal to me, and it makes sense, really. If everybody would just reduce their needs and live simply… I’m not saying live ugly, you know. You can be beautiful with simplicity.”

Produced by Alyssa Castillo
Photography by Renzo Navarro

INSTALLATIONS: WOOD THINGS IS ON A LIMITED PRINT RUN OF 500 COPIES, AND IS AVAILABLE AT SOLIDARIDAD BOOKSHOP, PADRE FAURA, MANILA; 254-1068.
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Nana Caragay
Nana Caragay is a magazine editor, writer, voice over talent, and former gymnast. When she's not stalking cute dogs on social media, she's most likely shopping, working out, watching E!, or drinking iced tea. She's on Instagram @nanacaragay.
style by Mags Ocampo

The New Minimalism: Ermitanio

Ermitanio proves that minimalist doesn’t have to mean boring.

When most of us think of minimalism in relation to fashion, we go for the obvious: normcore. Though that trend has been pushed aside for fresher aesthetics – if you can call the sudden resurgence of skate culture and looking like a (very chic) librarian fresh – minimalism remains crucial to the personal style of some women.

Alyssa Ermitanio, the designer behind up and coming brand Ermitanio, understands the timelessness of minimalism.  “Ermitanio is all about doing more with less; ease is essential. The clothes are soft, made of lightweight material without any prints or embellishments,” she shares. Take note, however, that minimalism doesn’t automatically equate to a snooze fest or some kind of foolproof sartorial safety. Rather, it is a careful practice of restraint and a weighed balance between details and negative space.alyssa ermi 3

The designer believes that women don’t need much to convey a strong message, at least sartorially speaking. “I spent half of my girlhood in a place with magnificent domes, grand piazzas, and golden palaces – Rome. There, I was able to witness strong, confident, intriguing women. Women who knew what image they wanted to convey to the world.” According to her, these kinds of women would always wear understated items overflowing with elegance. This belief is reflected in the strong shapes of her first collection of blatantly flared pants, shin-length vests, and asymmetrical cuts held together by silver rings.

Ermitanio’s minimalism isn’t purely an aesthetic choice. The brand is also built around the idea of practicality, the concept of mixing and matching. With a colour palette consisting entirely of black and white, Ermitanio is perhaps one of the best local choices for statement pieces to integrate into your everyday wardrobe regardless of what your own personal style may be.alyssa ermi 2 copyAt the moment, Ermitanio is on a pre-order-only basis. A ready-to-wear line will be in the works quite soon – starting with a collection of bottoms. For now, though, the fresh grad of a designer is busy creating patterns for pants to wear to her upcoming job interviews.

Photographs by Andrea Beldua (c/o Alyssa Ermitanio)

FOR ORDERS YOU MAY CONTACT ALYSSA ERMITANIO VIA E-MAIL AT ALYSSAANN.ERMITANIO@GMAIL.COM.
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Mags Ocampo
Mags Ocampo is a twenty-two-year-old writer, graphic designer, and life guru (or so her friends claim). She currently works as Rogue Media Inc.'s Digital Art Director and takes freelance jobs on the side. She likes diving into whitecaps, reading sad books, and trying to tear down the patriarchy during her spare time. She's taken on adulthood by changing her screen names to her actual name, and thus, can be found as @magsocampo on Twitter and Instagram.