Neri & Hu

 

 

 

I first met Lyndon Neri in mid-2014 in Cebu. We had both been invited by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce to participate in their Design Week celebration and Salon Talks. Lyndon spoke about his work as an architect, Professor Dan Boyarski of Carnegie Mellon spoke about design, and I moderated the discussions.

Lyndon is one half of the extremely talented and celebrated Shanghai-based architectural firm Neri & Hu, together with his wife Rossana Hu. Born in the Philippines, educated in the United States, and now living and working out of China, Lyndon considers himself a citizen of the world. He is of Chinese ethnicity and his family’s roots are in Cebu, where his parents still reside. He was actually born in Ozamis.

Lyndon received his Master of Architecture at Harvard University and his Bachelor of Architecture at UC Berkeley. Rossana received her Master of Architecture and Urban Planning at Princeton University and her Bachelor of Arts in Architecture at UC Berkeley. They are also designing products for brands including BD Barcelona Design, Classicon, Gandia Blasco, JIA, LEMA, Meritalia, MOOOI, Parachilna, Stellar Works, and neri&hu.

 


At Maison et Objet Asia 2015, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu were one of the keynote speakers and were awarded 2015 Designer of the Year.

 


Lyndon and Rossana talked about their work as architect and designers based in Shanghai. They draw inspiration from everyday life on the streets of Shanghai, “We like to stroll, observe and examine objects, furniture and buildings. We are sensitive to the crossing of different design disciplines.”

 


Our paths crossed again this year at Maison et Objet Asia in Singapore last March. Neri & Hu Design and Research Office was awarded 2015 Designer of the Year. “In our quest for the Maison&Objet Asia Designer of the Year, we seek out designers who represent the essence of Asian culture, Asian roots and with an international approach to their works. Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu have distinguished themselves through their work and also with numerous international accolades. They exemplify the very qualities we seek,” said Mr Philippe Brocart, Managing Director, Maison&Objet.

 

Here is my conversation with Lyndon and Rossana of Neri & Hu. We talked about restoring buildings, being an Asian designer, working with your spouse, having Filipino roots, and Lyndon’s deep sense of spirituality.

DAPHNE: Congratulations on winning Designer of the Year. How significant is that to you both?

LYNDON NERI: I think all awards, no matter where it’s coming from is definitely an honour. It’s a humbling experience. We didn’t expect it. Some people thought that maybe we would have predicted this given that we were inducted into the hall of fame and that we won the Wallpaper Designer of the Year, but to be honest with you Rossana and I never really look into all the award categories and say, “This year, I think we’re going to win this or not,” I think we spend a lot of time focusing on our projects. So it was a pleasant surprise, but more importantly definitely a humbling experience for the two of us.

 

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The ZISHA tea project “We removed the traditional dragons and snakes from the Chinese teacup to magnify its original natural material: purple clay from the Jiangsu Province.”

 

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The MING COLLECTION and UTILITY COLLECTION for Stellar Works. The Ming Chair is a play around the iconic chair. The design was tweaked to make it stackable and painted it imperial red, whereas traditionally the wood is left dark. The Utility Collection is a combination of “old style” leather and simple metal curves. This line of chairs is an ode to the industrial boom of the 1920’s, a transitional era that saw decorative furniture take on a more utilitarian aesthetic.

 

DAPHNE: A lot of Asian designers, and I’m sure Western designers as well, look up to you as the new breed of designers. How does it feel to sort of set the standard for the new direction of design?

ROSSANA HU: We are not quite conscious of how others perceive us. In some ways we almost have to not think about it or not look at it. Like Lyndon said, it’s more important for us that each project is better than the last. And for us, focusing on the project will just be better for our own work and our own growth. What we want to spend time to nurture and focus on is just that the project will hold its own integrity. That we continue to grow as designers. Whether or not the position is good within a larger context, or how people see us, we try our best to pay back through lectures or participating in various events. Particularly there has been a lot of different mentorship that we are participating in like the Lexus Award Mentorship. So these things bring us directly in contact w a lot of young designers And that’s what we like to do.

LYNDON: I’m more stressed out whether the work we are doing now is done well. So often times some of the projects that we are doing now, some people might not understand or people might feel frustrated that we have changed direction. But I think we have to be true to ourselves. If we are trying to do things to please the general public or a particular group or set of designers or set of media thinkers, then if we are not true to ourselves, then eventually it would not be significant.

 


JIAN collection for Gandia Blasco. This hybrid collection of outdoor furniture was inspired by the Chinese character Jian, meaning “in between”. This poetic living space seems to float between time and space.

 


The Camper Showroom, Shanghai. “Drawing inspiration from the surrounding urban condition, the Camper Showroom / Office in Shanghai recalls both the spatial qualities and the vibrant activities characteristic of life in a typical Shanghai alleyway, called a “nong-tang.” The exterior lane extends into the showroom creating a physical sectional cut of the new house and a gathering space used for presentations and talks.” Source: Neri & Hu website

 

DAPHNE: Lyndon, you were born in the Philippines. How Filipino are you?

LYNDON: That’s a very good question. I was born in Ozamis. Then I left when I was five years old for Cebu. For my first 15 years, I was practically a Cebuano. I speak the dialect and I went to a Chinese school. So within that context…. That’s a very good question. When I went to America, after many years, some people ask, “How American are you?” Then we went to China, after 10 years, I’m very much Chinese, obviously, and they ask, “How Chinese are you?” So there’s really no sense of home for me, as much as I like for all of them to be my home. But in many ways, that’s a blessing in disguise. Because I do believe that the problem we are solving today is a global one, and not a national one. However having said that, I then become very sympathetic with things that are very much Spanish or Latin-based just because I’m from the Philippines. And often times people say, “My goodness you are not so Chinese – you know, the way you express yourself it has that La Bamba spirit.” And of course when they find out I’m from the Philippines, they go “I got it. Ok.” And yet when I go to the Philippines sometimes they say, “Why are you so serious? Why do you think too much? Why are you such a conceptual thinker? Too much like an American.” So there’s always that tension. And it depends. Some of my Filipino friends would probably say, “He’s very Pinoy” some of my Chinese friends will say I’m very Chinese. Some of my American friends will say I’m very American. And vice-versa. I don’t know. I think I am who I am. And people will have to judge who I am. I’d like to think I’m a person of the world.

 


With Lyndon at the 2014 Cebu Business Month hosted by Cebu Chamber of Commerce. Lyndon was invited to give a talk by Cebu-based designer Debbie Palao, head of the Creative Industries Committee of Cebu.

 

DAPHNE: Can the Philippines claim you as a “Filipino” designer?

LYNDON: I would hope so. It’s very interesting. I’d  love to work in the Philippines. I’d love to have projects there. But you know there’s a saying that says you’re never loved by your own country until you’ve proven yourself elsewhere. And there’s some truth to that. It’s not just the Philippines, it’s everywhere. The towns that great thinkers are from are often times are ignored until they made something out of themselves.

 


Design RepublicCommune is located in the center of Shanghai. It is  as a design hub, a gathering space for designers and design patrons alike to admire, ponder, exchange, learn, and consume. The building was once the Police Headquarters built by the British in the 1910s. The project took somewhat of a “surgical approach” to renovation. “First, gently removing the decaying wood and plaster, then carefully restoring the still vibrant red brick work, while grafting on skin, joints, and organs onto parts that needed reconstruction. And finally with the attachment of a brand new appendage which, like a prosthetic, enables the existing building to perform new functions, the nearly abandoned building begins its life again.” Photographed by Pedro Pegenaute. Source: Neri & Hu website

 


Xi’an Westin Museum Hotel. “In an ancient capital of China, Neri&Hu Design Research Office’s design of the Westin in Xi’an emerges as a tribute to both the city’s importance as a hub of burgeoning growth in the region, as well as its long standing status as a cradle of Chinese civilization. With 3,100 years of history embedded in the layers of the city, Xi’an is not merely a formidable backdrop to the building itself but has provided the architects with design inspirations that inextricably link its past to its present and future.” Photographed by Pedro Pegenaute. Source: Neri & Hu website

 

DAPHNE: At your talk last year in Cebu, where I moderated, you talked about your involvement in preserving and working with older buildings and preserving the character of the city. I realized that that’s what we need in the Philippines. You were living in Shanghai, a city that was rapidly destroying traces of the past. Currently in Manila that’s been happening and there seems no end to it. And it seems the only conservation that people know is museum-fication. Very little in terms of the way you guys do it — stripping a building but keeping the integrity. How did you, a global architectural firm, influence the mindset of cities, governments and people.

LYNDON: I think the problem is there’s money involved, unfortunately. With everything that deals with projects in general, there’s money involved. The natural instinct to make fast money is to tear down the old and start new and to have greater FAR (floor area ratio), and to build taller buildings, to sell as many. But we know in the long term, that’s not going to do a country justice, nor a city good. Because once you erase part of the history, a lot of what keeps the spirit of that particular city will disappear and we have to think far, instead of be short-sighted about the whole process. How do you convert people? It’s going to be very hard. People need to have a certain conviction. Developers need to understand that in life, it’s not just about making more and more and more. Sure they’re going to be making more and more. But they need to understand that there is meaning in purpose in the short life they live in this world. They have to decide whether they want to give back or they want to continually take. For developers who want to continually take and take, no matter how much we convince them it’s not going to get through to their head. Because to them its all about the P&L (profit and loss), it’s all about that final number. And I’m not even going to try to convince them and say, “If you have good design, you will make more money.” Because in reality, maybe you wont. But what you get back is something that’s intangible. What you get back is something will give people joy and certain happiness that this world can never give.

 


The Waterhouse Boutique Hotel at South Bund in Shanghai, China. “We created this hotel in an abandoned warehouse. Enhancing the natural original materials was our way of emphasising the importance of preserving traces of the past in urban projects.” Photo by Pedro Pegenaute

 

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Lyndon placed a very Filipino antique furniture — a gallinera bench — in the lobby of The Waterhouse. Photo by Pedro Pegenaute

 

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Neri&Hu was also responsible for the design of the hotel’s interior, which is expressed through both a blurring and inversion of the interior and exterior, as well as between the public and private realms, creating a disorienting yet refreshing spatial experience for the hotel guest who longs for an unique five-star hospitality experience. Photo by Pedro Pegenaute. Source: Neri & Hu website

 

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Another example of the blurring and inversion of the interior and exterior, as well as between the public and private realms. Photo by Derryck Menere

 

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The Waterhouse in South Bund, Shanghai. This was once an abandoned warehouse, adaptively re-used as a five-star boutique hotel.  Photo by Pedro Pegenaute

 

DAPHNE: Is there a point where a building is too late to be saved?

ROSSANA: Of course. It’s not like we believe that every building should be saved. If that’s the case, then there’s no progress. I think it’s about balancing what you keep. And even within one building, you don’t necessarily need to keep everything. So being able to accept that life is about fragments and these fragments – some have value some don’t, some are worth saving, worth keeping, some are not. You just have to cut them away and throw them away and put new stuff in it in place of what used to be there. And that fragment of the past are ok in a city. And hopefully we build our future on our past. And that’s why we have to save some because otherwise there’s no memory of what happened in the past for our next generation to see.

LYNDON: But what’s also important, Daphne, is the fact that you just have to do good work. And you have to have a certain conviction in what you do. So you could preserve all you want. If you don’t do it with much conviction it is another form of Disneyfication. That’s what I call it. So it’s just another replica of another past. So it becomes a decorative exercise. Now, there are new buildings that are built by very good designers with good conviction. They add value to the city that we are in today. So I’m not all for progress at all (sic). In fact if there’s the right opportunity you need to build new buildings. However what we’re saying is that there’s a lot of good old buildings that could be re-used and have this new adaptive renaissance within its old structure.

 

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The Cluny House, a private residence in Singapore, shows Neri & Hu’s modern take on the Chinese courtyard house.

 

DAPHNE: You showed us a lot of your projects. Could you describe your own home?

LYNDON: Our home is constantly under renovation. We’re now on our third stage. We’re in an old house. Old lane house. We didn’t show a lot of images because we made a pact ten years ago that our house will be private. And so our children live in a house that is very much black and white with a lot of paintings and etchings by great masters. (Rossana: Furniture is everywhere.) And initially when they came with their friends, often times their friends always say “Wow the ceiling is so high” or “Wow this is a really strange looking house. And so when they were young, they were really conscious because they feel like their house is so different. Perhaps non-traditional. So they were really concerned. But my youngest son who is 12 now told me the other day in the car, “you know actually all my friends really find our house very interesting. It’s cavernous. It’s very unique so now all of a sudden there is a sense of pride. Is it crazy? A part of it is. And we are continually developing it. This last stage will probably be our last. We are renovating it right now. And it’s probably going to be the craziest addition.

ROSSANA: It’s very much like one of our projects where we took an old house, an old lane house. We sort of gutted the inside. So the interior feeling is quite modern. But you can’t see it from the outside. So it’s like a lot of our projects.

LYNDON: So from the outside it’s this three-storey lanehouse and nextdoor is one and it grows ivy all over it. So in the spring time there is no resemblance of a house. The whole project is dematerialized. It’s this green thing. Absolutely gorgeous but hard to maintain, beyond belief, because there’s a lot of bugs that crawl into the wall. And for a certain conviction there’s a lot of pain. But what we’re trying to do, is now they’ve grown older, so after this last phase we might actually show part of it to the public.

DAPHNE: And who is designing that?

ROSSANA: Whoever has time. That’s why it’s never done because we never have time. And its our last priority. Clients are more important.

LYNDON: We do have time. The little time we have in our house, we argue like mad. We agree on certain things, while other things, it’s hard for us to agree on.

DAPHNE: You work together, you’re a team, you’re collaborators. But who does what and who’s the boss?

LYNDON: Oh she’s the boss. Good question.

ROSSANA: We overlap on many things.

LYNDON: What’s needed at the moment will have to be taken care of. She writes a lot more. Although I also write. Because every project needs to have a definition in order for the core to be done properly. I tend to sketch more maybe. But she does sketch as well. So there’s a lot of – both of us come up with the basic concept. I might be spending more time on the schematic part of a project, she comes in on the design development side of the project. But obviously in the end when we come in and we do the detail, we do it together.

 


Lyndon Neri & Rossana Hu. Photo by Andrew Rowat

 

DAPHNE: Lyndon you seem to be always grateful. There is a spirituality about you that you are not embarrassed to show. What is that all about?

LYNDON: Uhm, what is clear to me is that what is given to us today… I know for a fact that what is given to both of us to day, is from God. Without a question. I was fortunate enough at a young age to be introduced by my father to have a relationship with God. So I read the Bible every day. And that to me is the most important thing in my life. Every thing we do today is not us. (Lyndon’s voice starts to break. He pauses.) Sorry, I’m just a little emotional. But there are a lot more people more talented than we are. There’s a lot more people more connected than we are. There’s a lot more people more educated than we are. But I think Rosanna and I are given a platform. And this platform is a responsibility given to us by God. I think it’s easy for us, in the height of adulation and when we’re given a certain accord to start saying maybe we work very hard, we went to the right school, or maybe we were talented, or we maybe because we made the right strategy. Seriously at the end they all came from Him. And if we don’t acknowledge Him, while these blessings are being poured to us, then we’ve really missed the point. That to me is the end. And it goes without saying I think people often forget this, and when I add that aspect of this story, sometimes people say, “Lyndon you’re always asking, you know. You’ve worked hard enough, you’ve done this.” Well that all is true but there’s also a lot of people who work just as hard. There are people who are also talented or more. People who went to the right school. But Rosanna and I have been given this platform. And we have to remember that this platform is a blessing that has been given to us. And we have to be able to give back. Because if we don’t God will use other people to do it.

 

 

Click here more information on Maison et Objet Asia.

DAPHNE & National Book Store

 

 

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The DAPHNE® & National Book Store collection

 

Last week we launched my line of stationery and organizing tools at National Book Store. We had working on this for over a year — actually almost 18 months from the moment of the idea to concept, design, manufacturing. Seeing all the products together on the shelves of NBS was a big thrill. And having my whole family there even made it more special.

 

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National Book Store Glorietta was dressed up in the DAPHNE prints.

 

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The idea of having a DAPHNE line in National Book Store came from NBS’ Xandra Ramos-Padilla. I can’t thank her enough for believing in me and my brand.

 

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I wanted this collection to be inspired by my daughters. We used their names as the jump off point.

 

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It was my first experience in product development — from the shape of the products to the prints. For 12 months, Xandra and her team worked with me on the samples. We worked with graphic designer Isabel Gatuslao to design my prints.

 

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My folks are in town. Big treat that they were there.

 

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My Pope Francis brigade came in full force — Jeanne Carpio, Hazel Cabrera and Joan Barretto

 

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Happy that my BFF’s Ingrid Go, Fiona Araneta and Mel Cuevas (not in photo) were also there.

 

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Jewelmer’s Mia San Agustin and Pen Uy with Liza Ilarde Cuenca.

 

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Cura V’s Kai Lim in full support.

 

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Ingrid with Ronald Gonzales, Alex and Simon.

 

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My friend Janine and daughter Gabby Dario who is now a courtside reporter.

 

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My lawyer and good friend Leslie.

 

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Katherine and Stanley Cheng of K&Company. (I am wearing a K&Company dress)

 

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There’s Mel with my Mom and Dad.

 

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Goofing off with my standee. (Stella wants one in her room.)

 

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The prints are inspired by the names of the girls – rose, lily and daisy. Coincidentally they are all wearing Gingersnaps dresses and Melissa shoes.

 

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Xandra and event stylist Barbie Pardo

 

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Sophia doing origami crafts with CraftMNL. We had my prints developed into origami paper just for the launch.

 

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Reina and Leslie.

 

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Childhood friend Vic Betita with SIL Patty Betita.

 

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Real Living’s Rachel Medina and Tom Castaneda and interior designer Nina Santamaria

 

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Available at the following select National Book Store branches: Abreeza Mall Davao, Alabang Town Center, Alphaland Makati Plaza, Ayala Center Cebu, Ayala Centrio Mall-CDO, Ayala Fairview Terraces, Festival Supermall, Glorietta 1, Greenbelt, Greenlanes Arcade, Katipunan, Market! Market!, NAIA North Wing, Power Plant Mall-Rockwell, Quad Alpha Centrum Building, Quezon Avenue, Robinsons Ermita, Robinsons Magnolia, San Antonio Plaza, Shangri-La Plaza, SM Aura Premier, SM Bacolod, SM Bacoor, SM BF Paranaque, SM Cebu, SM Clark, SM Fairview, SM Iloilo, SM Lanang Davao, SM Mall of Asia, SM Manila, SM Megamall, SM North Edsa, SM Sta Rosa, Superbranch Cubao, and Trinoma.

The ?#?DaphneandNBS? collection includes a tote bag, pouches, desk organizers, dry-erase board, binder, clipboard, expanding envelopes, journals and pens. More on the products at a later post.

Shop online and buy eBooks at nationalbookstore.com and earn reward points for online purchases.

 

 

Fresh new start at home

 

 

One of the easiest ways to refresh your home in this new year season is by updating some accessories. Instead of going for a specific look that’s on-trend, you can try sticking to a specific colour. This way, your range of styles will be wider, and you won’t get stuck with a look that may eventually go out of style. While going around SM Home at The SM Store, I found some the neatest blue accessories. Blue has the effect of calmness and serenity.

 

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This pitcher’s shade of blue is a great addition to any home. It has a nice rustic carafe shape but the handle gives it more practicality. I also like the double lined plastic mason jars. I’ve been using glass for my juices. But this is great for the kids’ drinks.

 

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This sofa will work well in a condo or in a family room. It looks so inviting that you just want to plop yourself in the middle of that crease. SM Home also has a wide selection of framed wall art. You may consider a seasonal rotation of framed art.

 

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I love the simple lines of this chair. And that blue fabric upholstery just gives it a modern Scandinavian vibe.

 

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I’m loving these storage bins. They really make it easy to stay organized. And I particularly love these blue and white striped version.

 

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Serve ware that looks like expensive cookware.

 

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A little rustic, a little country. Perfect tableware for breakfast.

 

How are you approaching this fresh new start to 2015? Any new updates or plans for your home? Share your stories with me by using the hashtag #practicalhomesolutions #practicalhomeinspirations

Follow SM Home via Facebook at SM Home, Instagram @smhome, and Twitter @SMHome_PH for more information and inspiration.

 

 

Christmas Gift Ideas

 

 

So here we go again. It’s mid-December. Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? Or are you in a panic? Don’t be.

I was actually a bit more organized this year. I stocked up on pieces that I knew were giftable while shopping for myself at SM Home. I also went on a short trip to Barcelona. It’s for a special TV project that will air in January. More on that later. I knew I’d be gone, so I got most of my shopping done a couple of weeks ago.

Since this was the year I conquered the kitchen (yes!), I focused on shopping around this theme. I figured my friends and family could always use trays, containers, serving dishes, cookware etc. I was amazed at the wide range and assortment of gift items like in the bed and bath section, kitchen tools, home decor and accents at SM Home. What makes it even better, is the affordable price range. I also love the way SM home is organized now. If you’ve been to the Makati, Aura, and MOA stores lately, you’d know what I mean. All like objects are in the same place, neatly arranged in colour blocking.

Here are a few gift ideas that I’ve picked out from a few days of shopping. Hope you find something here…

 

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For teachers, co-workers, students, staff, these stainless steel lunch kits will always come in handy all year round. Each has a handle which makes it very easy to be brought by kids or adults. It’s big enough to store warm rice and the double decker version is perfect to hold a main dish separately. Look at the friendly prices — two layers P399.75, one layer P249.75. To give it some personal touches, fill the lunch kits with packs of candies, cookies, chocolates when you give it as a gift.

 

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For your couple friends, family friends, colleagues and associates who matter. Chip n’Dip Serveware P699.75. Again, to add that personal touch, include a bag of good quality tortilla chips and some salsa. Homemade would be good. I would also throw in some tea towels or gingham print napkins (plenty at SM Home). Wrap all of them in a basket with cellophane. Chic!

 

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For your couple friends, wedding godparents, business associate, a special kris kringle event, or your parents. Perfect for entertaining throughout the holiday season with pica-pica or cocktail party food. It packs away flat, yay! Keizo 3-tier square service set P1299.75

 

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For your good friends who are domestic divas, mommies, hobbyists, give them this Westinghouse Mini Donut Maker, P1099.75. You or your recipient can enjoy fresh baked homemade donuts with the mini donut maker without frying. My kids love anything miniature, so this will definitely be a hit with them. It has uniquely designed donut holes on non-stick plates that create 7 delicious donuts in under 4-6 minutes. This is a healthier alternative to store-bought donuts which are deep fried. You can also control the ingredients of your batter.

 

I’ll be posting more gift ideas in my Instagram at @DaphneOP throughout the next couple of weeks. I’ll be going back for more items this week. Will post more good finds.

 

SM Home is located at The SM Store. For regular updates, please follow SM Home on Twitter at @SMHome_Ph, on Instagram at @SMHome, and on Facebook at SM Home

 

 

The homefront

 

 

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It’s been a while since I posted stories about my home and my family. I have to admit that this blog has taken on a different turn from what it used to be like. I remember when my blog was still Daphne’s Diary and only a handful of people were blogging, it was filled with random little nothings about my life. And you were all there to keep me company. As the blog grew, it somehow became a product of my “work” like part of the official brand DAPHNE®. Collaborations came in and with top retailers! The luxury bed linen line with SM Homeworld and Our Home, my furniture line that retailed in Rustan’s and Dimensione, and of course my pride and joy, the DAPHNE x Bench collaboration. I am so grateful and still floored that all that happened and continues to happen. Hint, hint.

Somewhere along the line I feel like I detached myself from the blog a bit too much though. Or am I over-analyzing? Maybe it was because Instagram became too accessible that all my little random diary entries went there instead of here. I didn’t find time to sit down and actually write. Heck, I even stopped using my micro four-thirds camera and DSLR. Today I am drowning in press kits, product samples, event invitations which I appreciate but I also feel like that’s not just what Daphne’s Diary is about. Yes, I talk about products, but I used to share more stories about things I’ve discovered or learned without any marketing or PR activity involved. All authentic stuff. I feel like I owe it to you and myself to get back to my roots. At the very least, all my marketing campaigns are identified. And I also have not partnered with nor supported any campaign that didn’t fit in with my aesthetic and principles. I have declined quite a few.

So I will attempt to balance — business and real life. And please let me know how you feel about it. This is not and never was a mommy blog. So I’m not going that direction. I’m also not an expert on food but admittedly, I am in the process of discovering my inner home-cook talents. Join me on that discovery process. Travel is also a big part of our lives now. Though my 10-week stay in Toronto last year almost went un-blogged. There’s so much I didn’t share about that trip because I was so busy living life at the present moment. Design is still in my vocabulary especially since we are working at doing more home tours. Health, wellness and spirituality make up a huge chunk of my new life now. I won’t preach, but I may tell stories from this journey. Then there will be little anecdotes about my daughters. When I started blogging, I had only one kid. I was pregnant with my second baby, Lily. Now these girls are growing into their own versions of themselves. I’d like to include some of their stories in my blog. Of course security and privacy is an issue, so I can only do so to a point that we are comfortable with.

I guess what I’m saying is, there’s a lot of noise out there. I want this site to continue to be my happy place so I’m regrouping and things are going to change. You are always welcome here.

I just did a fun shoot at home with Xeng Zulueta as the makeup artist and Sandro Paredes as photographer. Xeng and I have worked with each other for a long time. She did some of my most amazing cover shoots. This was totally random and fun. We didn’t even have a hairstylist. I just washed and dried my hair myself. Sorry for the unkempt hair.

But this is what real life is like at home — minus the false lashes.

 

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This is the hallway where my girls’ little feet stomp all over. The house is never quiet when we are home. It is filled with voices, footsteps and laughter. All three daughters are wearing Gingersnaps. My dress is from Sfera, shoes are Repetto.

 

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My masterpiece. Haha. I worked with Rafael Calero of Kitchen Studio. He executed all the ideas I wanted and presented me with more options that I didn’t know existed. I’m loving my kitchen floors. These are treated wood from Matwood. Rafael stained them a certain way so they wouldn’t look too red. In real life they’re lighter. I’m particularly proud of my ceiling. I had this brilliant idea of knocking down the existing ceiling and exposing the roof and beams. But at the time, I didn’t know what lay beneath the ceiling lining. Surprise, surprise… a beautiful structural beam. Oops, it’s hardly in photo. I must show it to you at another occasion.

 

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My kitchen took forever to finish. The reason was because my sink had to be brought in from Kohler, Wisconsin. Yes, Kohler is not only a brand but also a place. It is beautiful. Here are stories from when I visited the Kohler sites in Kohler, Wisconsin. My sink is made of enamelled cast iron. I absolutely love it. P.S. We had to make adjustments to the cabinetry in order to make the sink fit. We initially didn’t know we could have this sink, until I had a “love affair” with the brand officially. My windows are pretty special too. It’s a huge treat to have new windows like this. These are tempered glass and PVC from a German brand called Veka from Fourlinq. As many of you know, the rest of the house has wooden capiz windows. Balance and irony. Haha. Oh, if you’d like to see the video of my kitchen renovation, click here. Top from Sfera, jeans from Uniqlo, shoes from Repetto.

 

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My throne. Seriously. Because every woman must be the queen of her home. Ha!

 

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This Raina chair was a special birthday gift to me by Vito Selma. He sent it to my house right after he showed it in Manila Fame, March of this year. It is, by far, the largest present I’ve ever received. Look at it going through our door on Instagram. I love it! And I adore Vito!  P.S. Dress is from Sfera.

 

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Oh dear, the kitchen beam is still not visible in this photo. Oh well. Here are my three bunnies. We purposely bought three un-matching stools. You can see a bit of a mess behind me. Proof that the kitchen is not “for show.” It’s a real working kitchen. Perhaps only Pinoys will know what I mean about that. Haha. So we dressed up a bit in this shot. I’m wearing a silk dress I bought in Bali from Magali Pascal. Sophia is wearing Rajito by Rajo Laurel. Lily and Stella are wearing Gingersnaps.

 

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The most photographed part of our house is the red door. Every time I have press people over they think they have the “money shot” with the red door. I have to disclose that it’s been done many times. I can actually do an entire series just filled with red door shots! Hmmm, that’s an idea. Future blog entry perhaps. Well, the story here is that the house is really old. It’s the house my husband grew up in. And when we got married, we wanted to give it a bit of a facelift, but slowly. So we began with paint. I wanted red from day one. We also played with colour inside the house — pink hallway, green living room. My advice is, if you don’t have much budget but you want to give your home a boost, start with paint. Don’t be afraid of colour.

 

All photos by Sandro Paredes.
Make up by Xeng Zulueta.