Mark Wilson on His Christmas Pop Up and Why His New Collection Took a While: ‘I Need to Create Objects that are Desirable’ - Lifestyle Asia

The fourth Caro Wilson pop up will run at the Peninsula Manila until November 20.

Luxury purveyor Mark Wilson launched early this week the Caro Wilson fourth anniversary pop up, titled I Want Christmas Now. 

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The Manila Peninsula’s Gallery lounge is the setting for Wilson’s pop up, which will run until November 20. On display are Christmas decors, such as silver-plated Baguio pine cone tree ornaments and wreaths as well as his own abaca parols. His new furniture and home accents collection dot the space, with the jewelry displayed in gleaming glass cases. 

What makes this extra special is the philanthropic aspect of the sale. “A portion of the parols’ revenues will go to Sophia Zobel’s Steps Dance Foundation,” Mark explains. 

He says that Sofia’s dance school in Makati is open to both paying and non-paying students. Most of the foundation’s scholars come from Tondo, where the Ayala Foundation has a vocational school that does not have a sports or dance program. 

“That’s why she thought of offering the kids the opportunity to train in her school,” Mark shares. “Some of her scholars ended up continuing their training abroad. I think two are now with the Alvin Ailey studio in New York.”

Itsy Bitsy “Tayo” filigree earrings, in gold plated silver

In the same manner, part of the proceeds from the Caro Wilson’s core collections’ sale will benefit Lizzie Zobel’s Teach for the Philippines foundation. “I really love what these foundations are doing,” Mark discloses. “And I’m very close with the women who run them.”

Baguio’s Artisans

Mark’s signature herringbone weave, originally featured in just his Cordillera bracelets, can now be found in his new furniture and accessories collections. Developing the pattern was tedious work, because he says that weaving “isn’t a jewelry-making technique. It’s a basket technique.”

While working on the pattern, Mark approached two second-generation jewelry makers in Baguio. One said he can’t do it, while the other said “he will think about it.”

Caro Wilson’s signature Cordillera bracelet features the iconic herringbone pattern, handwoven by Baguio artisans; made from silver and gold; behind it are silver plated Baguio pine cone tree ornaments

“So this guy took my sample to his workshop, where one of the workers said he’ll ask his uncle who turned out to be a master basket weaver,” he says. “The uncle said to him that they’d have to weave it in the same way rattan is woven.” 

First, he explains, you pour silver into a flat sheet before cutting it with a machine in the width that you want then weave the strips. “It took a lot of work before we got the look,” he admits.

Since then, Mark has taken the distinctive weave to different directions. It’s found in the trays, “woven in 26 gauge copper and terminated with the ‘bilao’ edge,” the small family of lamps, as well as the accent table series. 

For his home and accessories line, he now uses copper and brass, which he has never used before since they’re not jewelry metals. “So from my jewelry line, from my experience in gold and silver, I was able to transpose that into copper and brass,” he continues.  

Filigree tradition 

Apart from the herringbone weave, Mark was also enthralled by the traditional filigree method, samples of which he saw at the Baguio jewelry workshops’ display cases. This delicate technique defines his current jewelry collection. 

“There are two specific filigree techniques that I fell in love with—the spider fill, and the double wire or double coil,” he says. “So I asked the jewelry makers if the guys who do filigree still exist. They said yes, including the craftsman skilled in  double coil technique, who is in his 80s.”

Getting the different artisans to work on his pieces was a painstaking process. The oval frame—another of Mark’s signatures—is made in Baguio. 

“If I want to add spider fill, I bring the piece to the artisan in his 80s,” Mark says. “If I decide to add a double coil, it goes to a guy in La Union. The guy who makes a double coil is younger, like in his 50s. He realized that he couldn’t make a living working with silver, so he went to farm land in La Union.” 

If you look at the final product, Mark says, you see the work of three or four different hands. “That’s why this new collection took a year and a half to finish.”

While it may be more costly to have his jewelry made locally, Mark prefers to work with his trusted artisans. 

“I can produce this elsewhere and it’s going to be much cheaper. But I only want to work with Filipino craftsmen,” he says. “I don’t need to be big. But I do need to create objects that are desirable. The pieces should reflect excellent craftsmanship, as well as a globalized Filipino style.”

Banner: Dragonfly filigree earrings, in gold plated silver

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