Tuesday, July 15, 2014

‘Do your own thing’: Designers on creating inspired interiors


In a gathering that invited attendees to “join the design conversation,” Elle Decoration hosted their second run of Deco Talks earlier this month in partnership with Avida Land.

Centered on the idea of “creating inspired interiors,” even in a relatively small space such as a typical 23-square-meter studio unit, the talk offered some useful insights into interior decoration and styling one’s personal space.

Three seasoned visual art and design professionals sat down for the discussion: key interior designer Eric Paras, the quirky and cheerful architect Lara Fernandez-Barrios, and dapper art consultant Miguel Rosales.

Facilitating the discussion was Elle Decoration associate publisher Tom Castañeda, who kicked off the event with a brief interview about Avida Land’s latest development in Makati City, the Avida Towers Asten.

The rise of condo living

"Location-wise, you're near a lot of things that you need," said Jojo Fabricante, head of the Innovation and Design Group at Avida, as he explained that condos nowadays are built at convenient locations usually within walking distance from offices and schools, supermarkets, shopping malls, and parks.

The cramped space does tend to put people off though, and many who are used to living in a two-storey house will find the adjustment difficult. However, said Fabricante, "once you've planned your unit in an efficient and well master-planned way, you find out that there are techniques for you to be able to live still comfortably and conveniently."

He suggested going for a place that gets enough sunlight and that doesn’t have too many units per floor. Interior design can also make a big difference.

"To address the feel of crampiness, some employ the use of mirrors," he said, adding that multiple-use furniture such as sofa beds and crate-box coffee tables can also help make efficient use of one’s space.

The collector, the designer, and the architect

The mix of panelists at Deco Talks made for a pleasantly varied set of ideas—in spite of the fact that, coincidentally, all of them earned their degrees from the same university (“we ended up with an entire UP panel here today… I don’t know how that happened,” exclaimed Castañeda).

Barrios shared her experience building a new office for advertising agency Havas Media Ortega, which basically started with the one-word peg, “fun.” The result involved a Mondrian-esque play on bold primary colors, a skating track surrounding the work area and a roof deck bar. The design decisions made were all based on observations she was able to make about her client.

“It’s very important to get to know them better,” she said, explaining that since the client is the one who would be using the space, they should be able to tell you how they want it made.

Paras made a similar point when he shared what makes an inspired interior for him. “Space or size is not an issue. It’s really how you feel about the space,” he said.

Takeaways from the masters

Everything each of the panelists said can be summed up in three major nuggets of wisdom:

1. Explore and learn. "Here, especially in Manila, there are a lot of places where you can find things that are part of your inspiration," said Paras.

A visit to his personal “3-D calling card,” Artelano 11 in Pasay City, would definitely be rewarding for those seeking visual excitement. It is an enclave of beautiful things that serves as the perfect example of an inspired space.

Paras also pointed out “flea markets… Evangelista, outlet stores in Clark, [and] surplus stores from Japan” as good places one can go.

"Just do your own thing... source around," he added.

“There are so many galleries now... it's almost impossible not to find something you'll like," said Paras as he enumerated some of his favorites, from Cubao Ex and 10a Alabama to Blanc Gallery on Katipunan Extension.

He was reluctant to make any specific recommendations about art. Instead he advised everyone to "buy what you like. Buy with your eyes and not with your ears."

He also pointed out the importance of loving your own and educating oneself.

"Know more about your country's art,” he said. “The Philippines has so much amazing art out there that you really have to go around and explore... even the museums. They're there. Use them."

2. Decide what you like and work around it. "Figure out what your interest is... and you can draw from that to create your room,” said Barrios.

"Get the best bed you can afford, for a good night's rest. And I would suggest also a really comfy chair," she said when asked what every bedroom really needs.

Paras had similar splurge-vs.-save advice. "Choose or decide first which is your... piece de resistance," he started.

"If you want to spend on a bed or a cabinet, then decide on that first. Then [go for] those make-do solutions that can also be elegant... tasteful. Like repurpose a furniture piece, learn how to do carpentry, paint. It's being resourceful."

3. Edit. Barrios also advised getting rid of clutter and narrowing things down to what’s really important. "So stuff that don't really mean anything to you... when you get rid of that, your room will feel bigger and then you can kind of get a picture of how to fix it the way you want it to be done," she said.

“Don’t be afraid to edit,” said Rosales. “Part of the collecting process is… living only with stuff that you really love [and] getting rid of the stuff that you don’t really want.”

Clientele of the 21st century

The three panelists have been in the business for quite some time (design veteran Paras has 25 years of professional experience under his belt). As such, they have been able to observe a major shift in client behavior.

“Clients are more open-minded, adventurous,” said Rosales, while Paras pointed out that “access to information” has definitely made it easier to communicate visual ideas.

“There’s a certain sophistication that has developed over time,” said Barrios.

"Nowadays there's so much inspiration... you can look online, there are all these local magazines now and even in the department stores... the taste has improved a lot."

"You can find little things that help create a space and they don't have to be expensive,” she continued.

If there’s anything you need to invest in, it’s time.

"For a budget, it's not really an issue. It's how you put [your space] together. It's not an overnight thing. In time, you can achieve your inspired space," said Paras. — BM, GMA News

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