Tuesday, August 29, 2006

designer angst #1 re-post

I wanted to write #4 but I guess this one is still apt to what I feel now...

I have been wanting to write this for the magazine but I can't find a section where it can fit.

Since I started working here three years ago, the question whether the interior design industry can be brought to the masses a viable cause or not remains a question. One of the reasons why I stayed in this magazine until now is primarily because of this. Real Living started with the cover line-- Live Well, Spend Smart. If we dissect that line, it does not automatically mean - have a beautiful house, yet limiting your budget to 1,500 pesos for a sofa. Spending smart can still mean buying a tulip chair knowing for a fact that it has a resale value, for 23,000 pesos. Yet, at first glance, 'Live Well, Spend Smart' can actually mean having a beautiful home on a shoestring budget. It is with this first-impression-on-the-cover-line that has been my guide in composing a lot of my visuals for Real Living.

After three years, somehow, we got the message across, especially to a lot furniture makers and exporters. We are not a high-end magazine. Yet we make beautiful homes. It is with this sincerity that we became number one in our genre. Screw modesty.

Yet every time this is being brought up, I can't help but wish sometimes that "sana, high-end kami, mas mabilis sana ang mga pull-outs at x-deals." Before I got here, I was working as interior designer of one of the highest paid pedigreed designers in the country. An average budget for a three-bedroom condominium unit can go up to eight million excluding my boss' fees. I was doing visual merchandising for their store, which actually serves coffee or tea to its clients while checking the furniture pieces on display. A single vase is equivalent to the cup of coffee, plus the cup and saucer, plus the beans, plus espresso maker. Some have even prices that can include the entire modular kitchen where your espresso maker can be found. In other words, what is sold there, what is discussed, I will never get to afford. And so is my kind-- the working class.

Where I'm coming from, this notion is true to a lot of people. Interior design is one industry for the rich. Does it follow that a beautiful home is exclusive to the rich too? Of course we say that it doesn’t follow. Because you can actually do it yourself. You don’t have to hire a designer. That is why the magazine is there. That is why there are magazines. Now, of course this doesn't apply to the first question. Maybe a bit, but not quite.

Yet working in the magazines surely made the dilemma more apparent. Especially when you see products that are well crafted with perfect proportion priced exorbitantly. Much worse, you meet the maker of these products (furniture, for example) short of telling you in your face that you can not feature them because it does not fit your market range or simply because they don't manufacture for the local market-- spell third world. It gets more frustrating because here you are, getting invited to these shows, seeing these pieces yet your lenses are clipped but instead you get to settle to what is available in their laminate form proudly Xiamen made in the malls.

If not laminates, we have Malaysian rubber wood, or maybe some wood, which used to be crates now converted to a dinner table. Sofas made of ply boards that can last only for three years. While the products that we consider quality, proudly Philippine made are not available in the Philippines. If it is, they are too expensive. I'd settle for the latter, at least it is sold here. If you dig deeper, these products don't really cost much export wise (they have to still compete with China after all) but when sold here, their prices are doubled. This is one thing I cannot understand. It is a conscious effort to alienate your products to a vast majority of your people. It is with this attitude that makes interior design an industry only for the rich. Quality interior design.

I attended a symposium months ago and a demi-god of a designer was invited to speak. He was wearing this pink suit saying that design is for everybody yet you can not approach him easily because you have to pass thru a battalion of local designers who are harbingers of the exact opposite idea he espouses.

Interior design is indeed for everybody. It only becomes elitist when mixed with the word industry. It is not for free either, as everything else, it comes with a price. It only becomes elitist because of the conscious effort done by a lot of members in its core for it to be such.

While the worldwide trend is moving towards tapping the greater market (which is the middle class), we are living in feudal times here in this country. Where the monarchs are trying so hard to keep their fancies exclusively theirs not knowing the peasants outside already crossed the moat. The greater question here, do the peasants outside care? Do they really want to enter? It is also with this question that I am still with the magazine. Indeed, there is a growing number of people who are more conscious in making their homes more beautiful now. But is the number sufficient to at least fuel the materials and means of opening the market?

I’m still with the magazine. And I still stand for the cause.

I have been wanting to write this for the magazine but I can't find a section where it can fit. As I said before, I am not writer, but sure there are other ways of airing this one. Photos perhaps?

Monday, August 21, 2006

designer angst #3

It was not so long ago when I told myself that I will not accept projects for less than a million. Now, I am starting to do one that I quoted for 500,000 and the owner told me that she can only afford three hundred.

The number one reason why I said that, was primarily because of the work load. Apparently, homes of a lesser budget means more work. Meaning, sourcing like you're looking for a needle on a shag rug. Usually, low-end suppliers will not give designers swatches and samples. In order for a cheap tile to be approved by the client, it's either bringing the client to the store or buying a piece for approval. Fabric can only come from elpo in divisoria and lights and faucets, from binondo. You don't leisurely visit these places on a regular day. It's an event going to Ylaya and Ongpin.

Secondly, the lesser the budget, the smaller my fee since it usually is percentage of the budget. I do need the money. Apparently, a lot of people still don't understand the whole idea that it is actually a job. A design proposal does not at all mean just a couple of drawings, a swatchboard and a discussion over a cup of coffee for three hours. Designers would actually spend sleepless nights trying to form a concept for the given space. Together with the laying out of the plan, is solving each problem the floor, the ceiling, the walls and every single detail the interiors give. In each proposal, much work is done. And when the drawings are done already, half of the work of the designer is finished. Apparently, less than half of the fee is being paid at this time.

Together with laying out the floor plan, is a lingering reminder that the budget is is only up to this. It is very frustrating to design when you know for a fact that the space has the potential to be really beautiful and each space can be of function when you are restricted by the budget-- or the lack of it.

I have been very honest to my clients for the past years. I would tell them initially how much they need to finish the house and most of the time they say that they can only afford sixty percent of the estimate. It has been very hard trying to keep everything not to go over that given sixty percent. Maybe next time, I'll jack up the price to double. Sixty percent of that will not be that bad as a working budget. Then again, what does it say about me?

So far, I rarely take photos of the finished product (as defined by the client) primarily because for me it is not yet done. Yet their pocket says it is. Though I doubt it very much myself if indeed it is their pocket (sounds pretty much like f#*k-it) thats speaking. It was not their main priority. Then, I would feel depressed because it is to me.

Yet I am doing another one with exact same story. My fee is secondary to the whole thing. I want my client to have a beautiful home. I just hope she will understand my predicament. Maybe I should tell her my story.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

hating byes...

Growing up in the province has its advantages and well, yeah... disadvantages. Since Antique is a shoreline province, you can actually serve the best the sea can offer. Living as if nobody would actually need a refrigerator (only for ice and ice cold coca-cola, I guess), where mineral water is not bottled but overflowing, where carbon monoxide is one compound you can only find in chemistry class and days and nights seem longer than as they are now. Barriotic, provincial and bucolic. The very reasons why it is called bakasyunan. I longed for every summer vacation when my cousins from Manila and Iloilo would come and stay there for a couple of days. And each time they leave, I hated every single moment of it.

I grew up having summers where I felt I was always left behind. Growing up in the province taught me to hate hearing the word 'good-bye'.

Taken from 'vaya con Dios' which literally means go with God. That is the best wish you can give for somebody who is leaving-To go with Him. It's funny, it is supposed to be addressed to the one who is leaving, yet it is more painful to hear when youre the one left behind.

When I moved here, I would still hear the word from time to time. Sem-breaks, christmas vacations, summer... The best thing to do all the time is to go home ahead so that you will be the one who is going to say the word and not them to you.

Tuesday of last week, my sister said it to me. She left for the US to study her masters. Trying to pull myself together, I went back to the car quite intact with no liquid part of me dripping. While inside the car, my other sister blurted, "Three months from now, you're gonna be back here for us."

That's when I cried foul. I will be ill well-wishing them goodbye by November. I saw flashes of my chilhood pictures as we pass by EDSA. I saw myself dreading the fact of being left. It was a long sigh when I came to my senses that it is the inevitable. My sister and her family will be gone for good before the year ends. The other one went ahead a few minutes ago...

Growing up in the tropical third world has its advantages and well, yeah... disadvantages.

Monday, August 07, 2006

uno, dos, tres (nagoyo ni carlo)

Uno, Dos, Tres
(from Carlo)

3 People Who Make Me Laugh:
Uno: college friend ricci chan
Dos: college friend lloyd
Tres: theatre friend gilleth

3 Things I Love:
Uno: designing
Dos: commenting
Tres: sleeping

3 Things I Hate:
Uno: ill manners
Dos: euphemisms
Tres: hypocrisy

3 Things On My Desk (at home):
Uno: my i-book
Dos: cigarette, ashtray and lighter
Tres: ostrich feathers i plucked from one in pampanga

3 Things I Am Doing Right Now:
Uno: encoding
Dos: crying
Tres: smoking

3 Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
Uno: become extremely wealthy (yung nakakapandiring yaman!)
Dos: fly a plane
Tres: tour the world

3 Things I Can Do:
Uno: eat anything (as long as i have my virlix)
Dos: move my ear without using my hand
Tres: sit by the beach all day

3 Ways to Describe My Personality:
Uno: crazy
Dos: funny
Tres: intimidating (i refuse to believe this until now!)

3 Things People Might Not Know About Me:
Uno: my first dream is to fly a plane
Dos: i love playing chess
Tres: im a son of a preacher

3 Things I Think You Should Listen To:
Uno: your mom
Dos: your instincts
Tres: bette middler!

3 Things I Don't Think You Should Listen To Ever:
Uno: a preacher claiming that they are the only one true church
Dos: your alarm clock
Tres: korina sanches

3 of My Absolute Favorite Foods:
Uno: the late holland sausage fried rice
Dos: my father's ginataang tambo (bamboo shoots with prawns/crabs in coco milk)
Tres: batchoy and puto

3 Things I'd Like to Learn:
Uno: fly a plane
Dos: how to make a walk thru design presentations
Tres: capoeira

3 Beverages I Drink Regularly:
Uno: coffee
Dos: coffee
Tres: coffee

3 Shows I Watched When I Was A Child:
Uno: man from atlantis
Dos: looney tunes
Tres: wonder woman

3 People I Tag to Do This Crap
sige na nga, lahat!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

prologue to soaps

I came from a very huge family in Antique. I remember my mother trying to make our family tree from the Abiera-Salazar side and it never looked like a tree when it was laid out. It was a fifteen-page family forest. And that was just half of my mother's family starting from my great great grandfather.

My closest friends would know our story. For lack of topic, I would start the litany of my mother's family's stories and we will end up until the wee hours of the morning. Theirs can give Isabel Allende a run for her money.

Our nuclear family is becoming interesting everyday as well. My parents as the quiet couple, make it Lucita Soriano and Chinggoy Alonzo living in a bario and my two sisters as the struggling to succeed Sharon Cuneta and Maricel Soriano. My baby brother as the young Mulach. With my father's siblings as Bella Floreses, Odette Khans and Max Alvarados (mind you, they are twice the size of both girls individually). And as days go by, the soap gets more complicated and at times hilarious and absurd. Each charcter has their own stories continually playing. A lot of times, way tangent to the main plot yet goes back to it sooner or later which is still-- the family.

A lot of us are living in soap operas and a lot of times, ours is more exciting than what we see on TV. Then we find ourselves in situations and crises and coping with those does not necessarily require musical scoring (just like Lamangan's masterpieces) yet as we do hear the music in our minds. The drama behind each scene is something that we either want to avoid or milk. I really don't know if I do want to milk mine now. But sure I hear the music.

Lani singing I'm Losing You from Baz Lhurmann's Something for Everybody.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Real Living August

trabaho muna...thanks carlo for the photo

As they say in the ad-- JUST DO IT!!!

Do-It-Yourself tips... stylish homes... shopping without waiting for the cab... make-overs and more!

Coming from the bestselling decor magazine in the country!

Grab your copies now!