Meet the designer behind the scene-stealing furniture in ‘Dirty Linen’


Yabut hopes to someday have boutique showrooms in Singapore, Tokyo, New York and Milan. “That’s part of my 10- to 20-year plan,” he says. Photo courtesy of Yabut

The Pabo chair of Cielo Fiero was originally commissioned by celebrity hairstylist Jing Monis.

If you’ve been watching the revenge drama “Dirty Linen,” chances are you may have caught the powerful-looking Pabo chair in Doña Cielo Fiero’s (Tessie Tomas) room. Some people thought it was inspired by the adventure fantasy series “Game of Thrones” but the chair’s designer, the architect Jed Yabut, says it’s a contemporary reimagination of the Peacock Chair which was popularized by PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) in Bilibid back in the 1900s.

The powerful-looking Pabo Chair befits the character of Doña Cielo on Dirty Linen.
The Pabo chair, which appeared on the show Dirty Linen, is Yabut’s modern rendition of the Peacock Chair.

The Pabo chair was actually commissioned work for celebrity hairstylist Jing Monis. “[Jing] wanted a Peacock Chair, but not the traditional one,” Yabut recalls. So what the architect-turned-furniture designer did was make the Peacock more masculine. “But it still has the feel of a throne,” he offers.

Meanwhile, Dreamscape Entertainment head Deo Endrinal, a fan of Yabut’s work, instructed the show’s production designer Nancy Arcega to check out some of the designer’s pieces for “Dirty Linen.” And that’s how the Pabo chair made it to local TV’s most talked about series.

The shapes and designs of Yabut’s furniture pieces are inspired by Filipino icons.

Like the original Peacock Chair, the Pabo is also made of rattan. In fact, Yabut, who started his furniture business during the pandemic, specializes in making contemporary rattan furniture. “I chose a material that has a lot of nostalgia in it,” he tells us. “Back in the 1980s, sobrang nag-boom ang rattan furniture in the Philippines and globally.”

Over time, however, furniture made from different materials came in, including plastics from China, and these eclipsed the popularity of rattan. “I chose to specialize in rattan because I want to also bring it back in fashion,” he tells ANCX. But Yabut wanted to make his works more modern and edgy, conversation pieces that emphasize “random patterns and varied textures as an homage to the Filipino sensibilities of ‘beautiful chaos’ and resourcefulness…I didn’t want to make it look like it’s the traditional rattan furniture that we are all familiar with, so I added twists and lots of geometric shapes.”

“I chose to specialize in rattan because I want to also bring it back in fashion,” says Yabut.

To highlight the Filipino-ness of his creations, he named his pieces alon, ati-atihan, bakawan, bunot, pugad, salbabida, tinikling, trumpo, and so on. “Apart from the nostalgia that I want to bring into the minds of users and lookers, gusto ko rin makita nila na yung mga shapes ng mga designs natin are based from Filipino icons,” he says, adding that the “exoticism of the word may also spark interest in the global furniture scene.”

To reinforce the durability of his pieces, Yabut uses metal framing, which are covered with rattan skin and rattan peel. The Pabo chair, for instance, has metal frames at the back and bottom. He also uses only locally supplied wood and raw materials. “We make sure that our pieces are 100% Philippine produced,” he says.

Yabut says the “random patterns and varied textures” of his creations are “an homage to the Filipino sensibilities of ‘beautiful chaos’ and resourcefulness.”

Yabut earned a degree in Architecture at the University of the Philippines. After graduating from college, he worked for eight years at Architect 61, one of the big architectural firms in Singapore involved in building skyscraper projects.

The Manila-born Yabut later worked at Nikken Sekkei, the largest architectural firm in Japan and believed to be third largest in the world. There, he worked mostly on hospitality projects like the Four Seasons Hotel and a ski resort in Hanazono, Hokkaido. While in Japan, he completed his Master of Business Administration, already entertaining thoughts of switching to business consultancy.

To reinforce the durability of his pieces, Yabut uses metal framing.

Fate, however, had other plans. Just as he was hired to work for Japanese real estate company Mitsubishi Estate in Singapore, the pandemic hit. He went home to the Philippines thinking the situation would normalize in two or three months but it didn’t. That’s when he thought of creating a furniture line in the Philippines.

“It was not in my wildest dreams, not in a three- or five-year horizon, that I planned on becoming a furniture designer,” the 37-year-old architect tells us.

Thru the advice of his Chinese classmate in MBA, Yabut started his furniture business at the height of the pandemic. “We have a saying in Chinese that, ‘thriving and successful businesses are born during years of crisis,’” he recalls his friend saying. He designed his first collection in July of 2020 and launched it December the same year.

“We make sure that our pieces are 100% Philippine produced,” he says.

Yabut’s company has been doing well since. “I don’t have the numbers but I felt like nag-spike ang demand for rattan furniture during the pandemic,” he says. “That’s because I think people wanted to feel more connected with nature, with organic things, with wood since we were all enclosed in our spaces.”

Yabut says furniture makers these days are mostly in their 40s and 50s. So to help preserve the legacy of rattan furniture making in the Philippines, he hires and trains younger artisans. “Ang maganda sa mga bata mabilis silang matuto. In as much as I want to support our [older] artisans, feeling ko I need now to step up in trying to explore and teach the younger generation about it.”

To help preserve the legacy of rattan furniture making in the Philippines, Yabut hires and trains younger artisans.

Yabut’s modern rattan furniture pieces can be seen at Angkan Coffee Company, SM North The Block Food Hall, Mugna Cafe Bohol, and Lihim Resorts El Nido. He’s also currently working on outdoor pieces for Pia Wurtzbach’s personal lanai, including what he named the “Binibini” chair, “an outdoor piece with organic lines and graceful silhouette befitting a queen.” It looks like this erstwhile architect is becoming the maker of seats of power.

Photos courtesy of Jed Yabut


Jed Yabut: From architecture to furniture design

Jed Yabut Kapa Ceiling Lamp
Jed Yabut Hawla
Jed Yabut Ulap

AN architect turned to furniture design during the pandemic, and selected rattan as his medium.

BusinessWorld talked with architect and furniture designer Jed Yabut, one of the merchants on furniture e-commerce platform ITOOH, late last month. One of his pieces, a full-length mirror called Ulap (Cloud), with shelves that mimic the curvature of clouds, is still memorable after its debut on ITOOH’s website.

“I think I’m really good with design and all that, but I never had a chance to really design furniture before,” said Mr. Yabut, who graduated with a degree in Architecture from UP Diliman, but practiced in Singapore and Tokyo. The COVID-19 pandemic forced him to return to the Philippines. It was during the pandemic that he joined a workshop in Nueva Ecija where he learned furniture making, and decided on focusing on rattan.

The material has an interesting history. A species of climbing palm, it had been one of the most valuable products of colonial trade. These products — made of Southeast Asian plants and by Southeast Asian artisans — could be found then in the best rooms in Europe. Christian Dior used antique chairs of woven rattan (called cane in some circles) at his atelier in Paris, and the elaborate pattern of the weave could be found interpreted in their designs, such as the cannage (meaning cane craftwork in French) pattern on the famous Lady Dior line of bags.

“It was a deliberate choice,” said Mr. Yabut of rattan. “When you look at it (rattan), it’s very Filipino. We don’t necessarily carry rattan (exclusively), but to me, it spells very Filipino. The houses of our lolos and lolas (grandfathers and grandmothers) would have at least one rattan [piece] there… for us, it brings back nostalgia. At the same time, I could circumvent that to become something of a more modern look. That’s the intent.”

He also mentioned that despite the large number of furniture designers, few of them work with rattan. A large number of rattan furniture-makers however, consist of mom-and-pop operations in the provinces. “What I wanted to do was to create a brand that is more of a signature brand; a name brand.”

Asked how a Jed Yabut piece differs from one from these small manufacturers, he said, “It comes with good design, really. It comes with making sure that your design is not on Pinterest. I strive hard to make sure that when I design something, people can see that this is a Jed Yabut design.” In fact, he scrapped his own first line instead of putting it on the market, because it looked too similar to ones he had already seen. “There’s deliberate design conceptualization behind every piece.”

When he said that he planned to use rattan for his furniture, his friends in design said he was crazy. “It’s actually difficult to work with,” he said.

Direct sunlight can damage it, and so will too much water. “If it’s too cold, the rattan material becomes brittle,” he said. He added, “That’s why it thrives in humid climates like the Philippines.”

However, he loves to work with it anyway, despite its difficult nature. “It’s easy to mold. It’s very flexible. But because it’s so soft, the movements are always there,” he enthused. “Throughout the years, it probably could move, you know?”

Rattan under his hands then becomes a living thing, capable of mutability. “I’m the kind of designer who hates perfection. I think perfection is ugly. I love the rawness, the naturalness of the materials I work with. I want to highlight the imperfections of the materials I use,” he said.

“It’s constantly moving. It could never have the same shape forever,” he said. Rattan then becomes a symbol of temporality — and it sits as a reminder in your living room. “Everything can perish; everything can be replaceable.”

Mr. Yabut’s designs can be found on his website,, and on — Joseph L. Garcia