Steltz: When design sees the light
These days, lights don’t just illuminate homes, they have also become decorative pieces in homes and commercial spaces.
Steltz International Inc. (Steltz) has been bringing in designer lighting fixtures from all over the world for 26 years. It carries renowned European brands such as Flos (formerly Arteluce) from Italy, which is also the company’s flagship brand; Vistosi and Murano also from Italy; BrandvanEgmond from the Netherlands; and Iris Crystal and LEDS 4 from Spain.
When the company opened its newest home at the new wing of Shangri-La Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong, it also launched the latest IC Collection from Flos designed by Michael Anastassiades.
“People now are well-traveled and well-informed,” said Steltz President Jennifer Stelton-Jose. “They also have great appreciation for the arts and designer decorative fixtures.”
Stelton-Jose’s father founded the company 26 years ago, initially distributing tea sets and silverware from Japan. She took over the company’s management upon graduating from the De La Salle University with a degree in Business Management.
Stelton-Jose, who also studied design at the Philippine School of Interior Design for a year, said the firm saw “that there are a lot of potential in selling high-end decorative lighting. That is why we decided to focus on that and grow the business from there.”
The lighting fixtures offered by the store cost from P10,000 to as much as P7 million, depending on the manufacturer, scale, material and design.
Steltz is managed by Techno Holdings Corp., also owned by the Steltons. Techno sells an array of products such as kitchen equipment, golf course supplies, and fitness and exercise machines.
Stelton-Jose said she is always on the lookout for new brands to bring into the country.
She said the company faced major challenges in the past from the proliferation of copied goods from other countries. She said this put a dent on the company’s bottom line.
To address the issue, Stelton-Jose said the company decided to work with architects and interior designers to educate clients. She said the company has since reported a year-on-year growth of “about 20 percent.”
Stelton-Jose said transferring Steltz’s showroom to its new site in Shangri-La mall would bring the company closer to its target market.
“We chose the location because the market of Shangri-La is the market that we cater to,” she said.
Budji Layug and Royal Pineda designed the new showroom, which is noticeable for their signature industrial feel and minimalist interiors.
“They are also our top clients when it comes to lighting pieces,” Stelton-Jose said of the two.
“The concept behind it is not to clutter the showroom unlike other lighting stores where they display everything that they have,” she said. “What we did is a gallery-style wherein you can walk around and see a fixture in different angles. This is why we have mirrors on the ceiling and walls so you can see the duplicity of the lights. You can see [a light] from different angles … and appreciate it just as you would a painting or an art.”
Flos export manager Paul McNamara said the Italian lighting company produces pieces that have contemporary designs. He credits Flos’ chair, Sergio Gandini, for effectively “identifying not only incredibly good designers, but also young designers with immense talent.”
Flos has been the partner of Steltz for more than two decades.
“Flos is our best-selling and flagship brand,” Stelton-Jose said.
Flos’ new Anastassiades IC Collection is described as a “beautiful dichotomy between decorative and pragmatic.”
Anastassiades is a Cyprus-born designer educated at the London’s Royal College of Art and Imperial College, where he took up Civil Engineering and Industrial Design. For his new collection, Anastassiades made table and wall lights, ceiling pendants, and ceiling-mounted lights that take on the basic form of a sphere held perfectly still by a lone rod.
The initials “IC” were meant to distinguish the different designs in the collection “similar to how the English police use the initials to define the perceived ethnicity of a person when reporting to the station.”
McNamara said the company now mostly uses glass and plastics.
“Before, plastic is perceived as cheap,” he said. “But now, we are looking at plastics for the new collection.”
Based on trends she saw when she attended trade shows abroad, Stelton-Jose said she is seeing the emergence of retro designs made from brass, copper, and gold.
She said Steltz may be bringing in a new European brand next year.
McNamara, on the other hand, sees much simpler, but still contemporary designs.
McNamara also expressed optimism on the Philippine market.
“Manila has changed a lot,” he said. “There are a lot of developments, and a lot of furniture companies are now coming here.”
But Flos wants to separate itself by bringing in quality, he said. He wants to make available in the Philippines what people can currently find only in Europe.
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