Midcentury Manila launches MCM PLAY

Published October 9, 2021, 11:10 AM

by Joe Priela

A fun space to squeeze those creative juices

Famously known in Instagram as “midcenturymanila” and established by Ken and Isa Mishuku, the account has gained a considerably huge following—not to mention how most of what they post gets sold almost immediately. Exhibiting pieces through posting aesthetically pleasing photos and narrating the story behind it, one can’t miss the effort they put in.

A pop of color with a vintage Eames fiberglass shell with blue upholstery

Today, Oct. 9, 2021, the power couple is launching “MCM Play,” an exciting space that sprouted from addressing the necessities and essentials of the landscape they were given.

Ken and Isa Mishuku

According to Ken and Isa, MCM Play is an accident. They had never planned it to be that way. It has always been, the couple say, about working with the space given.

“If we ended up at a different space it would maybe be a different concept. Ken said a little over the phone, we used to work mostly out of our house,” Isa says. “We had a warehouse that stored the furniture, but we’d have to do a lot of running around back and forth just to get things done, get furniture from the warehouse, shoot at home, then send it back to be prepped for delivery—it is when we realized that we were wasting so much time working out of two separate locations. We needed a space that could accommodate everything we needed in one, and luckily, we found a space closer to home that had a sprawling commercial area and a storage warehouse a few meters away, all in the same compound.”

Midcentury Manila’s workforce ensuring the best of quality

“Upon the realization that we had extra space, we thought of turning it into a gallery to put up mini exhibits and house some pieces from our personal collection,” Ken adds. “It would be mainly for design appreciation, just a place where collectors can come, experience the pieces, try them out, speak to a fellow collector without the pressure of buying. On the same note, since we’ve had some guests over, we noticed that they tend to stay a while and we end up sharing a meal and had coffee. We use grab or food panda delivery services so much that we decided a café is necessary, so really, we are just anticipating the needs of our visitors, trying to be a good host.”

A peek through glass doors

When asked what’s next in the horizon after MCM Play, Isa says, “It would be a dream to create a studio or one-of pieces—more art than furniture that will go into production. We’ve not shared this before, but the main reason why Ken got heavily into restoration was not to provide the service for business, but really to get to know the items, to learn their make by reverse engineering, taking them apart, eventually to be able to create his own.”

MCM preparing for a shoot

Ken and Isa share that some have advised to strike the iron while its hot, to blow MCM up into a furniture empire. There is an allure that comes with that, they admit. But if the process of growth kills their passion, then it’s not worth dwelling in. Also they have the printing to rely on to scale.

For the moment, the idea is parked in their garage. They will most likely host workshops, definitely more exhibits, bring together some interesting design-driven brands, both foreign and local, but all of these in good timing. They want to grow MCM at a pace that is enjoyable and sustainable. It does not need to be fast-paced, but steadfast and long-term. If anything, the priority will be to remain inclusive, open, collaborative—and, of course, fun!

With the physical space that is now their brand’s new home, Ken and Isa are excited to fill it with all the ideas they could come up with. They have been exploring bringing in brands, use the space like a gift shop. It’s a place where people can work, shoot products, showcase collections, house exhibitions, and welcome guests who want to immerse or try out the various midcentury furniture pieces on display. It’s an active and fun space, an adult playground for vintage furniture—hence the name MCM Play.

For more updates about Midcentury Manila’s new space, follow them on Instagram at @midcenturymanila