Jim Torres of Zarate Manila: Turning Light Into Art


By Mitzi Ilagan | ExecutiveChronicles

It all started with old batteries and clay. In his childhood, he used to connect the pieces to form shapes out of his imagination, and now, he’s out exploring possibilities with metal.

Jim Torres, Zarate Manila’s Creative Director, shares his transition as he now handles the company specializing in lighting products. With his liking towards industrial design, he worked with Industria Edition, a high end structural manufacturing company, where he got his exposure to the craft.

When Manila Fame, CITEM and Red Box design program announced a competition for young designers in the Philippines, he finally got his break. Out of 140 entries, his was included in the Top 14 finalists. He then collaborated with Venzon Lighting Manufacturing for three months for an extensive product development and ended up creating the Harris Pendant Light. This masterpiece was inspired by the cosmos, using twisted pieces of metal and then forming them into ball. Though he specializes in metal and Venzon is more into stainless steel, he dealt with the challenge resulting to a new lighting experience.

On the other hand, Zarate Manila (Zarate is his middle name) was founded after he partnered with a metal company, who he has convinced to shift to the furniture and lighting industry. He takes the task of running the company, but he sees to it that he’s hands-on in making the furniture himself; unlike other companies whose designers merely submit the designs and let the workers do their job. With this, customers and viewers who get the chance to see his works notice the hand-crafted masterpieces’ overflowing emotions.

As an employee, he treasures everything that he has learned because it is how he knew and became knowledgeable of how a business works. It was also where he became aware of the life of an employee, giving him hints on how to deal with them as he becomes the leader. From that, he would understand how his employees would react or do their job, based on what the boss says, based on what he would do in the future.

Jim Torres, zarate manila, CITEM, Fame, Red Box Design
“Escapade” A lighting installation design made of stainless steel in metal shredding technique.

As a team leader, he doesn’t bother bossing around his employees since it’s a newly established company and he is still on the learning process. As of now, his focus is to create more designs and to build a remarkable brand.

As an artist, aside from his goal to be known, just like Kenneth Cobonpue, he would like his plans to work, just as how his sketches now turn into works of art. He recently launched his first collection, “Escapade.” Inspired with a lush exotic garden theme, the design exudes an atmosphere that’s both calm and serene, with astonishing forms and mounting excitement. The same collection was also featured at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, USA on May 16-19, 2016. The collection began with one purpose — to inspire through a different interpretation of light.

From his college days up until today, he says he’s just trying to create, improve and expand. Though at first, he wasn’t so sure of what field to go into, but now, he sees himself exhibiting world-class lighting installations across different countries in the next 10 years and more; with the aim of achieving a perfect balance between art and design.