Julia Mapusua, Sharon Semi Tugia, Denise Saso Banig-Fala

  • Tauira / Students
    Julia Mapusua, Sharon Semi Tugia, Denise Saso
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Emily O'Hara, Lucy Meyle, Rafik Patel


As designers, we are accustomed to making spaces for people. But what if the people make the space for themselves instead? The outcome was a communal gathering that celebrates two cultures.

As a group of Filipino and Samoan individuals, it is important that we share our cultural knowledge and traditions, because they are a part of who we are and where we come from. We were asked to design a space for others that answers the following prompts: something to sit on, sit around, hang things on, somewhere to speak from, to project onto, to draw onto and a surface that speaks. To form these we were given constraints on materials to choose from such as plywood, pine timber, silk, linen and brass rod.

Looking at these prompts as a group, we shared similarities between two cultures. One traditional cultural treasure that we both share is a mat. A mat in The Philippines is called a “Banig”. It is a traditionally handwoven mat used for sleeping, sitting and for everyday life activity. This is similar to the Samoan mat which is called a “Fala'' also used for sleeping, eating and sitting. Both Banig and Fala are traditionally handwoven with pandanus leaves, using plain weaving techniques.

We acknowledged these prompts through the form of a mat. We wanted to share our cultural knowledge and values that come with this laborious craft by initiating a weaving activity. We asked that people follow the custom of taking off their shoes and participating in a tradition of weaving, as a sign of respect to our Samoan and Filipino cultures. This communal weaving creates a surface platform for people to sit on, speak from, sit around and hang things on or above.

The Banig- Fala is woven with pine veneer strips using plain weave technique. This material mimics the pandanus leaves that are used in traditional weaving. The warp and weft are interlaced in a basic criss-cross pattern, over - under - over - under resulting in a checkerboard style. The mat is bound using the ancient Pacific art form of lalava (lashing) using yellow and red wool thread to lash and bind the weaving together. The colours of the lashing are inspired by the work of Tongan artist artist Filipe Tohi. The Banig - Fala combines both pacific art forms of weaving and lashing.

At its core, Banig-Fala aims to bring people together through the medium of mat weaving.