The Philippines Edition
From the editor
Last October I visited Manila to attend the biannual FAME show, both firsts for me. There are two remarkable parts to that statement. First, having lived in Asia for nearly thirteen years, ten of those in neighbouring Hong Kong, it now strikes me as absurd that it’s taken so long to board that less-than-two-hour flight. Second, despite having visited most of the world’s best international design fairs, I was unprepared for the vast talent that confronted me at FAME. It was not just the quantity of interesting design coming from across the Philippines, but the quality. I left wanting more of that eye candy — and more of the food, more of the people and that wonderfully warm Filipino hospitality, although perhaps a little less of the traffic.
Manila with its wealth of creativity left such a lasting impression on me that the idea to create a series of special editions entirely devoted to a single country was born; the Philippines stars as our first featured location. It may seem an unlikely choice to some, but ultimately we felt strongly enough that the country’s untapped trove of design treasures and destinations was deserving of some of the limelight otherwise commandeered by its better-known neighbours.
This issue sees us visit a few standout locations including designer Eric Paras’s a11 Gallery in Manila, the award- winning restaurant Antonio’s in Tagaytay, the DEDON factory in Cebu and their luxury resort on the island of Siargao.
Fellow Hong Kong resident and Philippines native JJ.Acuna, an architect and popular design blogger, writes for us for the first time, interviewing recognised talents Ito Kish and Stanley Ruiz about Manila’s local design scene.
Respected art critic and writer John Batten introduces us to the work of Filipino artist Alwin Reamillo, and Samantha Leese reports on the Philippines pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale — the country’s first in over 50 years.
We visit the homes of some of the country’s best-known and most celebrated designers, including Cynthia Almario (of Studio Almario) and Kenneth Cobonpue, to name just a couple, and you’ll get a glimpse into Manila’s newest boutique hotel, The Henry.
No edition on the Philippines would be complete without mention of the many issues that beleaguer its capital city. However, inspiring stories from a community architecture network that employs unusual methods and an urban sketching group that finds beauty amid the chaos offer an encouraging and uplifting response. This is by no means an exhaustive representation of the design scene in the Philippines, or even Manila for that matter. But don’t take my word for it — go and check it out yourself!
Inside the issue
New design stores in Singapore and Hong Kong
New collections and collaborations
Upcoming and recent books on design, art, interiors, urbanity and architecture from the world’s best publishers
A selection of some of our favourite pieces from Hong Kong’s inaugural International Design and Furniture Fair
a11 Gallery was the first of its kind in Manila, a ‘showhouse’ full of whimsical displays
Destination restaurant Antonio’s is the first Philippine establishment to join the ranks of ‘Asia’s 50 Best’
AvroKO designs a retro-classic 60s-style restaurant for the new Shangri-La in Bonifacio Global City
An exclusive interview with Ito Kish and Stanley Ruiz on the state of Philippine design
A tour of luxury outdoor furniture company DEDON’s manufacturing headquarters reveals that the company is about much more than just furniture
Elegant, stately or contemporary, Serdaneli’s architectural hardware is akin to none
Our regular travel guide for designers. This edition features the most stylish and inspiring places to stay, shop, eat and drink in Istanbul, Turkey
New designer hotels around the world
Cleverly secluded from the bustling city, Manila’s newest boutique hotel offers guests a nostalgic indulgence
The Philippines returns to the Venice Biennale after a 50-year hiatus with an ambitious and thought-provoking pavilion
Artist Alwin Reamillo’s rambling exhibitions are contestations for the Filipino psyche
Designer and retailer Eric Paras talks about developing his signature style
Ultra modern and clean, furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue’s home in the hills overlooking Cebu adapts a unique design to accommodate the property’s ancient trees
Manila / Cynthia Almario and her co-designers used light, contrast, water and lines to create her secluded modernist home
Alicia Colby Sy opens up about building her home with designer Jonathan Matti, including her beautiful collection of antique furniture and why she decided against a modern Asian aesthetic
Sisters and design duo Cynthia and Ivy Almario construct a meticulous home in a luxurious residential condominium — Raffles Residence — in the vein of the Art Deco aesthetic
Rem Koolhaas discusses repurposing old buildings and his objection to the extravagances in contemporary architecture in the context of his latest projects
A network of architects, designers and activists team up to help informal communities establish their voices in Manila
A group of talented sketch artists offers a visual narrative that beautifully captures the unusual blend of heritage architecture and gritty street scenes in Manila
A Flâneur is an urban explorer — a connoisseur of the street. In our rotating column, guests share their musings, observations and critiques of the urban environment in cities around the world. Urban planner and activist Julia Nebrija is this issue’s Flâneur