A Tailored Home

Since I’m an old geezer in the design world, I love hanging out with younger designers and architects. They’re just so much lighter to be with; they have tons of fresh ideas, and they always help each other.

This 400sqm home designed by Rod Lascano, uses an open plan in the main living spaces. The live wood topped dining table is by OMO at LRI Design Plaza, and the chairs are from Philux (photos courtesy of the designer).

One of them is Rod Lascano, who I usually bump into at my favorite coffice (sorry, coffice is no more, what with the current pandemic). Rod is a firecracker, and juggles managing his décor biz Metier Home (lovely mod accessories and dinnerware!), spewing invectives online at national misdemeanors, and handling his design projects.

The beautiful ikitchen island also serves as an extra spot to entertain guests.

And what I like about his works is that whether it’s a milk tea shop or a posh lobby, there is always a certain clean crispness to it. Yes, clean, crisp—and polished, which is good!

The luxe kitchen is by Siematic. Drop lights here are from Luxen.

Polished is what I could describe this home that he designed for a family in AFPOVAI, Taguig City, along with co-designers Nadine and Lejeune de la Cruz. “Our overall concept for the design is to make a home that’s modern, but timeless,” Rod says. “We wanted to balance the solid colors with certain wooden textures to give warmth. We kept the colors neutral to add to that cozy feel.”

The living room’s sectional sofa is from Bo Concept. The enormous proportions are just right for this four-storey house for a family of six.
The double-volume ceiling is the perfect spot to hang these Schema pendant lamps.

Here are some photos of the home; there’s a comforting, modern toastiness to it (that sounds strange, but it does feel like it!). Meanwhile, follow Rod Lascano here, and Metier Home here.

All photos in this story are courtesy of the designer.

The Vacation That Didn’t Happen

It was the beginning of my longest weekend a couple of months after being retrenched when my dear friends Kristine Neri and Tom Castaneda asked me to hie off with them for a couple of days in Siargao, when it still was a bit under the hotness radar as a surf and sun destination. Sadly, for one reason or the other (mostly personal), I ended up not going. What an idiot I was.

One of Kristine Neri’s wonderful corners for Kaza Siargao: rustic brick, industrial cement, raw wicker, and modern tropical lamps from Hacienda Crafts (both images here are from Urban Abode).

And boy, look at what I missed: you see, Kristine was designing the interiors of KAZA Siargao, it wasn’t your usual beach resort. For starters, there’s a raw, industrial touch to it, with a dose of tropical modern. There’s also a hint of quirky sweetness to it, as seen in the curly pendant lamps in the hallways, along with the coral and turquoise-blue abel blankets in the bedrooms.

I wish I could say I would see it soon, but we won’t be going anywhere for a bit. 😦 Meanwhile, check out more photos of KAZA and Kristine Neri’s other projects here.


You won’t believe how much I missed the old KISH showroom along Reposo Street in Makati. I missed the launches and the Christmas parties filled with friends and designers mingling around the glittery Christmas trees mixed into a heady setting of 18th-century Scandinavian furniture, silver vessels, russet-colored kilims and Fornasetti plates that winked at you.

I missed it so much that when I went furniture sourcing along Reposo earlier this year, I dropped by the two-storey duplex that was the former KISH showroom (and the former, beautiful, Budji Layug showroom) and saw that it was now a Chinese spa and sauna. 😦

At the new KISH showroom: Santamaria stools and Binhi planters/loungers, both Ito Kish’s original designs. All images in this story are by the author (except for Good Luck Humans photo).

Fast-forward to the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, while the rest of us were soaking up Kdramas and baking ube pan de sal at home, (the original!) visual storyteller Ito Kish was hatching his new KISH showroom, this time near the Rockwell center area.

The new KISH entrance: (left) a valid question these days, (right) the curated, museum-like main entrance foyer of the store.

Nestled amidst industrial-style warehouses along JP Rizal avenue, the new KISH showroom is a surprising in many ways, location notwithstanding. The element of surprise is immediately seen its main entrance, where guests (one can only visit by appointment only, with all the safety protocols in place) enter a pitch-black foyer, lit like a museum and curated like one. Here, in the middle display podium, choice artifacts that are actually decor are exhibited, carefully chosen by Ito himself. The designer mentions that the pieces displayed in this area would be from his recent travels, and only of things he takes deep inspiration from.

The secret room behind a gray curtain holds a treasure trove of antique Scandinavian and European pieces.

The surprises continue onto the main showroom floor, which is beautifully styled with a mix of Ito’s own designs and furnishings from all over the world. Located at one side of the space is a secret room–you draw the gray curtain, and a totally different collection of ornate, antique Scandinavian and European furniture and accessories is revealed.

KIsh’s Retail Season 2 ‘s collaborators include Filip+Inna’s Len Cabili, who teamed up with Ito to create the Gregoria 2 Chair, seen at left.

To subtly (but stylishly) signal his return to design retail, Ito teamed up with Filip+Inna’s Len Cabili, pottery artist Joey de Castro, and Good Luck, Humans’ Apol Lejano to launch Ito Kish Retail Season 2. Each designer and artist’s collaboration with Ito is very KISH, yet each collaborator retains their own individual touch (I know that sounds strange, but that’s the only way I could explain it).

Joey de Castro’s quietly elegant pottery art. The unusual pottery lamps at upper right is his design collab with Ito.

Like for example , Len Cabili incorporated dozens of indigenous handmade fabrics and embroideries that are her signature fashion style into the delicate balusters of Ito’s iconic Gregoria Chair. Joey de Castro topped the wicker base of table lamps with earthy pottery lampshades, a sharp, visual contrast of proportion and play. And Apol Lejano’s whimsically tufted lucky buttons nestled amidst moss becomes Hardin, tucked into the Art Deco lines of Ito’s Arellano vases.

Ito’s own Basilisa bed paried with a Gregoria side cabinet.

The rest of the showroom is filled with delightful vignettes that showcase the impeccable visual merchandising and styling that every KISH store is known for. Each turn of the corner reveals yet another delightful travel find (100-year-old keys! Ceramic dog busts! Parisian objets!) mingling with mid-century modern and contemporary furniture. There truly is never a dull moment inside the store.

My favorite showroom piece: Roman helmets.
Framed Parisian objets above a Scandinavian sideboard (with antique hotel keys).

Visit KISH by appointment only, message them on Facebook or at mobile +63 917 182 0306. KISH is located at 1120 JP Rizal Avenue, Makati City.

Home Tour: My Own Home!

At the very height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, when everyone was either planting vegetables or baking pan de sal, the purveyors of style at fashion website Seek the Uniq called up to ask me if they could feature my home. The catch: because of the lockdown, I had to shoot and style it myself!

My home feature on Seek the Uniq (screencap from Seek the Uniq). All the other photos in this story are by the author.

Now I found this nerve-wracking at first, because after producing home shoots for more than 18 years, I was used to having a photographer and assistant, two stylists, and a writer on board at every shoot. And my home is terribly small and modest, just filled with all my secondhand finds and old family furniture. But Seek the Uniq consultant Vicky Marschadesch calmed me down and told me to treat it as a fun project, so I did.

My living room, which is blessed with natural light from the floor-ceiling-windows (I live in an old building). The wooden chairs are by Benji Reyes, the ottoman by Philux. The crewel-work throw is just scrap fabric from Schumacher.

I shot my home over the period of four days in 95-degree-heat (I had to hide all the clutter, and style each space around the activities of my young son!) using just my Huawei mobile phone on interiors setting mode, and perched it on a small tripod that I bought off the sidewalk (malls were still closed at that time). All rooms were shot in natural light. I’ll show a few of the images here, but if you want to see the rest, along with my interview, read the article here.

I try to fill each space with vignettes so that there’s always something the eye can rest on. The pineapple is from Heima, the faux snakeskin tray is from Firma Greenbelt. My uncle, a fellow Aquarian, gave me the amethyst crystal to help clear bad energy.
This is my work-from-home spot, as well as my son”s distance-learning spot (we do it in shifts). The painting is a gift from my friend Thor Balanon. The ceramics are by Joey de Castro, placemat is from Manila FAME by Vince Uy. Ive had my Tord Boontje lamp forever, and when I switch it on it still looks magical.
My decorator friend Grace Moslares painted my room a medium gray so it’ll be more soothing. The bird poster above the bed i just a P150 find from Biblio. I love to have a mix of lamps for different purposes: the red Kartell for mood lighting, and the sensor-touch Vibia lamp for reading.

To see more of the Stay-at-Home tours of Seek the Uniq, visit their website.

Museum Girl: KisMet

I first visited the Metropolitan Museum of Manila in the mid-1980s. We went to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank) on a field trip, but I didn’t want to watch coins being minted. They gave us a choice of going to the bank or the museum—I chose the museum instead, and even if I went alone, I totally enjoyed it.

International Festival of Extra Ordinary Textiles exhibit in 2015. All photos in this story by the author.

Touted as the “premier museum of modern and contemporary arts” in the Philippines, I believe the Met is more than that, and it is not just all about art, but about Filipino culture and its ties with other countries, as well. Though their Classical Gold from Pre-colonial Period gallery has since closed, there other fantastic exhibits.

(Left) International Festival of Extra Ordinary Textiles, (right) stairs leading to the Philippine Contemporary Art Exhibit

Unlike other superstar museums like the National Museum and Ayala Museum, which has something for everyone, the Met has very specific and unexpected exhibit themes that might not be everyone’s cup of tea (like Junyee’s hair-raising cockroach sculptures at the Philippine Contemporary Art Group exhibit a few years ago). But they don’t care—they will put it out there, anyway.

The Met Museum has a little secret in its backyard: the 300-year-old Fort San Antonio Abad, which is off-limits to visitors and is only used for Central Bank functions. (Pretend you didn’t see this photo!)

I’ve never encountered an exhibit at the Met that I didn’t like—all of them satisfied me visually, intellectually, and emotionally. An example is the tiny exhibit of Philip Escudero’s photographs of Italian artist Francesco Riccardo Monti’s sculptures around UST. And the Volker Albus exhibit of the history of modern chairs, from Bauhaus era onwards.

(Left) Japan Design Today exhibit in 2015, (right) Werner Werkbund exhibit in 2019; these are photos of the Paris Exposition interiors, from almost a hundred years ago.

Another eye-opening exhibit was of the innovative Japanese Design Today show of 100 Japanese-designed items that changed our lives forever. My all-time favorite was the International Festival of Extraordinary Textiles two years ago, not just because I love color and pattern, but because it showed that fabric really binds generations and nations together.

(Left) Hand-painted chair by Jason Cortez at the Empty Chair Project , an exhibit in 2019 that tackled mental health, (right) a bejeweled bulol in jewelry artist Wynn Wynn Ong’s exquisite Dagat at Bundok exhibit, also in 2019.

There are many other memories that I wish they’d bring back, like their museum shop curated by Rachy Cuna, which had a delightful rice harvest theme, and the museum café run by Ilustrado, where they sold sampaguita ice cream that tasted like melted flowers. But regardless of all the ever-changing exhibits, I will still enjoy the Met like how I enjoyed it as a child, looking in awe at huge sculptures in the middle of a cold, massive building.

The Metropolitan Theater at the Met: (left) the beautiful Juan Arellano: Framing the Spectacle of Space in 2017, (right) Dr. Edson Cabalfin’s Arkitektura workshop, where my son and other kids made their own little Metropolitan Theaters (the workshops are another reason to love this museum).

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is located at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Blvd., Malate; operating hours Mon-Sat 10am – 5:30 pm; the museum is temporarily closed because of the General Community Quarantine, follow them on Facebook for updates.

Revisiting the Charms of 2680 FB Harrison

“2680” reads like Wong Kar Wai’s “2046,” (Tony Leung’s birthday today, by the way) but 2680 FB Harrison is actually an address and a destination located smack in the middle of Pasay City, right past a motel and a depot for kitchen goods, and before a Catholic school for hearing impaired children.

Artelano 11 (or a11) is run by interior designer Eric Paras and is a collective of local and international furniture and accessory brands, All photos by the author.

The address is unusual in the way that the fact that a whole bunch of stylish folks from various design and art industries are lumped together in a 1940s residential compound is extraordinary in an otherwise ordinary neighborhood.

Avellana Art Gallery is owned by Albert Avellana. (Right) Paintings by Allain Hablo, robot figures by GP Peros, sculpture by Impy Pilapil.

We first featured it way back in 2006, when having any sort of showroom away from a shopping mall was a novel idea. The tree-lined, quiet compound filled with white, post-war homes was the location of an art gallery, a museum curator, a fashion designer’s atelier, an interior designer’s home, and multiple furniture showrooms.

A lot of designers and homeowners visit a11 for their treasure trove of ceramics. (Right) Revol “crumpled” espresso cups.

It was the place to go to for most of a decade, to shop and mingle and network, and meet all the purveyors of style.

Both renowned and up-and-coming Filipino artists exhibit regularly at Avellana Art Gallery. This is at their second exhibit space.

My friends and I still drop by regularly. And even with a lot of moving out and moving in, the arrival of a hotel, and a regular rigodon of tenants, showrooms, and actual residents, it still is one of the loveliest places to visit in the middle of day, in the midst of a crazy city.

a11’s second “house” is the location of their accessory and dinnerware showrooms.
My son at the second floor of Avellana Art Gallery at the last Christmas exhibit.
One of the numerous furniture vignettes at a11’s “second house.” Furniture by a11 and Industria Edition.

Overall address: 2680 FB Harrison St., Pasay City. Contact Avellana Art Gallery at (02)8833 8357, and follow them on their Facebook page and on Instagram. Follow A11 on their Facebook page and on Instagram.

First Home Tour: 86sqm Condo

You won’t believe how much I miss producing home tours—like I totally miss producing them. And with the added challenge of the current pandemic, how could you invade someone’s personal space safely at this time?

Well, thank God for Facebook (snicker), and the whole plethora of beautiful homes my designer friends would post in it. One of them is this small but lovely project by licensed interior designer and University of the Philippines professor Hannah Acab-Faustino of Ideal Interior Design Services, which she runs with hubby and contractor Jorge.

I’m amazed at how the initial rendering (top image) looks exactly like the finished project! (bottom photo) Images here are courtesy of Hannah Faustino.

Hannah used to be our suki featured designer in the erstwhile home magazine I ran a few years back. And why not? Her residential designs have a certain subtle and relaxing elegance about them, whether it’s a sprawling and Taguig home or the 86sqm family condo unit here.  So I decided to post a quick home tour of her recent project.

(Left) The mirror detail in the dining area appears like there’s an extra room and makes the place look bigger. (Right) A drop-down table to add more counter prep space in the small kitchen.
The condo unit’s living room is decorated in soothing camel and gray tones.
The lovely bedroom for the two sisters in the home. This is a nice, non-cloying way to use pink in a girls’ room.
(Left) The study area in the girls’ room- another nifty way of incorporating a WFH/study area in a small space. (RIght) Another small-space trick: using mirrored doors on the master bedroom’s closets to visually enlarge the space.
Fun touches in the tiny bathroom: farmhouse-style handles in the sink cabinet, and a mix of patterned and subway tiles.
Interior designer Hannah Faustino at work.

I miss seeing your works (and I miss you!) Hannah. For more information, or if you’re interested in her services, you can contact the interior designer here on her page.

An Honest Post

I’m taking a one-day break from design babble to talk about how ordinary folks are represented in lifestyle articles.

I’m sure you have your fill of “fave-celebrity-doing-normal-things” viral posts, but when a call for a lifestyle or inspirational article about people like you and me are brought up, the editors sometimes get a knee-jerk reaction to “glam up” the subject, or twist the slant of the article to make the person appear cooler than he or she is. If there was a shoot involved, the subject would be made up and styled for the camera, and there would be a lot of posing and art direction.

But who wants to be glamorous now, in the midst of a raging pandemic? Whenever I read an article that sort of makes the subject try too hard, I shake a little bit in embarrassment.

So when my writer friend Agay Llanera wanted to interview me for an honest article about dealing with middle age for informative and no-nonsense website panahon.tv, I said yes.

Writer and editor Ines Bautista-Yao, entrepreneur and children’s book publisher Anya Santos-Uy, and little old me. Image from panahon.tv.

The article was about how women were thriving in their mid-life phase. It was only then that I realized that I have been middle-aged for more than five years now, and the interview made me think of where I was now, and if I was happily embracing this stage.

What struck me, aside from the extremely confident insights of my co-interviewees, was the raw honesty of all their answers. No one was glammed up, no one was forced to be cool — we just shared how we dealt with our daily lives and dreams in the simplest and most sensible ways.

If you want to read about some of our honest thoughts (or if you want to be shocked by our respective ages), check out the article here.

I’m a Fan

It was the afternoon of one of the most humid days in June when I spotted this beautifully designed appliance. Now, most commercial electric fans out there are often ugly-@ss things that come in black, white, or some weird pastel color. Let’s not include the electric fans of the world that cost an arm and a leg, such as this one. Those guys are in a league of their own, so let us not touch them in this post.

And so, it was a such a pleasant surprise to see this elegant specimen of an electric fan created by young Filipino industrial designer Joseph Rastrullo.

Joseph Rastrullo’s electric fan prototype.

The fan itself is encased in an elegant, metal mesh cage that is more sculpture than appliance. Well, you wouldn’t expect anything less from the Domus-educated Joseph, who has created dozens of furniture and accessory designs and exhibited in Manila FAME and other fairs when he was just in his 20s.

This piece is still in the prototype stage, but if you’re interested, follow him on Instagram or hit them up on the Rastrullo Facebook page.

Pod Living in Pasay

While visiting designer Willie Garcia at her JunkNot Concept Store opening last February, I couldn’t help but notice how fun and quirky Selah Pods Hotel was.

Selah Pods, upon entering the main guests area skylight, isn’t your typical boutique hotel.

For starters, it strives to be an eco-friendly hotel (this is the main reason Willie chose it for her showroom), as its main public area opens to an airy, central “courtyard” with a skylight, so it gets a lot of natural light throughout the day. There’s a lot of cross-ventilation coming from the windows that encircle the area, so it’s always breezy and there’s no need for air-conditioning.

The actual pod: a gangplank folds out and you get in and “hang” for a few moments or an hour til the staff lets you out.

And the hotel décor isn’t cookie-cutter at all. The central light-well is decorated with out-of-this-world wire sculptures and suspended metal pods (that’s where the “pods” part comes in). And if you are brave enough, you can actually “ride” in the pods—hotel staff can open the pod and you could lounge in it with friends, until you call the staff over to help you climb out.

(Left) A typical room entrance with a wire sculpture, (right) every level of the hotel offers surprises, like this row of wicker swings.

I was honestly too scared to try out the pods, so my son and I had a go at the suspended wicker swings on the 10th floor. The hotel is full of little surprises, like carpeted corners with floor pillows by the stair landings for you to hide in, and tiny nooks above the swimming pool area where you can have a few beers on your own.

Elevator (it’s see-thru) area leading the pool area and roofdeck restaurant.

The lap pool on the 11th floor roof-deck overlooks both cities of Makati and Pasay, and is especially lovely to swim in at night. The hotel is very near World Trade Center, PICC, and other trade show venues so it’s a convenient and affordable place to stay in during fair season.

The lap pool overlooking both Makati and Pasay Cities.

Selah Pods Hotel is located at 2004-224 FB Harrison Street, Pasay City, and has recently reopened after the lockdown. For more information, visit the Selah Pods Hotel website.