It was one of those nights that I had three friends co-incidentally spend half of the night here in my place: Karla, our draftsperson; Wilan, one of the two bestfriends cum neighbor; and Lloyd the other best friend.
As Karla goes over the block drawing that is about to be rendered in watercolor three hours later, Wilan and I had a chat by the veranda while Lloyd tinkers with my mac. The conversation was highly animated until Lloyd started to ask questions about the innards of interior design. The animation became 3D.
The topic was: What are the common denominators of houses of people? Well, as far as our projects are concerned.
Wilan started to separate them in groups:
First, we have the old rich Spanish-Filipino - relatively matured, conservative and proper.
1. A Manansala or an Amorsolo or if they still have the money their parents had, either a Luna or a Hidalgo.
2. A good altar for the family heirlooms.
3. A portrait of a great granfather who was once a senator or a congressman.
4. Narra floors and narra furniture. Very conservative in design-clean and classic.
5. Wide useless space. And given three years, filled with more antiques.
6. Very expensive china. And a complete collection of glasses for every drink.
7. Alabaster drop light or a Murano chandelier.
Second, Traditional Chinese- conservative, moneyed, frugal.
1. Gold and classic furniture bought wholesale from Xiamen.
2. Gold and crystal chandelier bought from Shanghai.
3. Fully airconditioned.
5. A Catholic altar in the living room. A Buddhist altar near the dining.
Third, we have the third generation Chinese- young, well off and liberal.
1. Let's start with tiles. Tiles for the flooring, preferably sandstone and a computer designed graphic tile (mainly striped) for the walls.
2. Terribly modern furniture. Clean structured lines for the wooden pieces, the pestering presence of stainless steel, plain muted colored upholstery (basically beige).
3. Window shades, meco shades. No drapes.
4. High-tech security system.
5. Very advanced and high-end speaker system for the entire house.
6. Plasma and/or LCD TV in almost every single room of the house.
7. An eccentric collection of either toys, cars or gadgets or all of the above.
For the two, not to mention the list of Feng shui dos and donts (e.g. the matrimonial bed has to enter the main door of the house at exactly seven a.m. the day after the new moon)
Fourth, the Filipinos with questionable source of wealth.
1. Extremely wide narra planks flooring.
2. Kamagong furniture (or some rare wood)
3. High-tech security system. Terribly high fence.
4. Popular painters.
5. Gaudy retro chandeliers.
Fifth, the 'bagong yaman'
1. Modern furniture-- meaning, black leatherette with accents of primary and secondary colored leatherette furniture. Yes, this is just in one room.
2. Laminates and more laminates.
3. One plasma T.V. and the rest are slimfit.
4. Printed roman shades.
5. Off the floor ill sized rugs after the 50% discount sale.
6. Different types of window treatment per room (all custom made by some home depot supplier).
7. Modern lighting-- meaning chrome and glass largely sold in Binondo.
8. Ceramic tile flooring and laminated wood for the bedrooms.
Sixth, the middle class Filipino- frugal, conservative, sentimental.
1. A curio cabinet for all wedding, trips, and give-away souvenirs and collectibles.
2. An psuedo antique turn-of-the-century furniture piece (mostly a day bed or a gallinera)
3. An altar with one antique icon and the rest are new icons painted realistically.
4. A small T.V. near the kitchen/dining area. The big one is in the bedroom.
5. Printed roman shades, similar print on the bed cover.
6. Off the rack venetian blinds.
7. Off the floor carpet (again, bought at 50% off)
8. Vinyl tiles for the kitchen if not the entire house.
9. Slipcovered five-year old furniture pieces.
10. A bookshelf small enough for the number of books and magazines.
Seventh, the young female yuppie who is about to be there- dreamy, young, vibrant.
1. Ikea and more Ikea like furniture pieces.
2. A friends gift bought in KL-plastic accessory.
3. High contrast per room. Depending on the trend, sometimes, striped.
4. Modern lighting-- meaning white plastic droplight with energy saver warm yellow bulb.
5. Unkown artist.
6. Huge shoe and bag cabinets. Freestanding.
7. Slimfit T.V. in the living area.
8. Rugs from mommy's house.
9. Furniture from mommy's house totally made-over.
Eighth, the male yuppie- carefree, young.
1. A big T.V. complete with a theatre system and PS2 often connected to the internet.
2. A Lazy Boy and bean bags (often in black)
3. Lack of shoe cabinets/racks.
4. Matress on the floor, bed often left unmade.
5. Blinds. Often, off the rack.
6. A cabinet with clothes spilling out.
7. A very small kitchen.
Ninth, the gay bachelor-- ummm, quite a challenge to describe...
1. Sturdy bed with impeccable selection of sheets.
2. Countless magazines depending on interest.
3. Huge cabinets that will never be too big. Same thing goes with the shoe rack.
4. Known new painters.
5. Nuetral colored furniture with surprises of high contrast accents.
6. Highly dramatic lighting. Meaning-- Lamps and more lamps.
7. No white/day light bulbs.
8. Pictures of family members/lovers on each flat surface where it can be put.
9. Extra toothbrush.
Tenth, the media and NGO people and the activists-- frugal, individualistic, sentimental.
1. Old/secondhand wood furniture. Often, tribal Filipino (some Igorot bed converted into a coffee table)
2. Unknown but good artists.
3. Scattered souvenirs from trips and memorable events.
4. A collection of vintage memorabilias.
5. Second hand iconic furniture.
6. Often an old apartment with T and G flooring.
7. T.V.s with strange brands bought from the port area.
8. Make shift window treatments.
9. Bad paint job masking as labor of love/art work.
10. Cheesecloth and jute sack.
Eleventh, the Designer, interior designer that is.
1. Eclectic due to returned/gifts/excess pieces from clients.
2. High lighting drama.
3. Mostly white walls.
4. Mix matched furniture pieces.
5. Multi-purpose dining table.
6. Evolving floorplan.
And as Wilan added, all of these homes, regardless of social status, background and taste, would definitely have one item from Regalong Pambahay either bought or given as a gift.
And yes, let us not forget a monoblock piece- either a stool or a shelf.
Of course, this is rough as rough can be. But just to give you an idea of how they look like. Do correct me if I'm wrong.
Enjoy! And the next time you enter somebody's home, just keep that smile to yourself.