Gabby Lichauco’s musings on the design industry
Elevating Filipino design and artistry may seem like an ordeal, but it’s work Gabby Lichauco is happy to do
“That’s what it’s about: all these components in the right quantity and quality, and in the right mix: the colors, the textures...” Designer Gabby Lichauco is talking about the virtues of the perfect halo-halo, virtues that go beyond taste. “Some halo-halos are a bit too experimental. They get diluted, like their ingredients were blended down into this mixture of ice. And with that dish, you’d still want the crunch and the softness of the beans and the pinipig and everything else.”
Though interiors is his domain, Lichauco’s sense for design has paved him an entry into the world of food via the work he has done for the Sarsá restaurants and the recently opened Kafé Batwan. His observant mind also gives him a view into how people navigate and interact within a space, including how it adds to their enjoyment—or discomfort.
This observant nature has also led Lichauco to push the boundaries of what else could be done, both with the materials he works with for product design and the kinds of collaborations that combine the specialties of various creatives. There’s Monolith, his two-year-old collaboration with fellow designer Rita Nazareno, a collection of home items that take off from Nazareno’s bag designs. There’s the pop-up of one-off designer pieces organized by Univers that he’s participating in and another design showcase in Paris later this year.
While furniture and interior design industry moves much more slowly than fashion, with product development lasting for months and the final result shelved for years before getting introduced to the market, for Lichauco, it’s constant work that involves taking gambles, minding details, and having reserves of patience. “It’s an interesting industry. I’ve been designing for 15 years, and I still get excited and challenged by it.”
Is a designer’s mind never ‘ off’?
Yes, either you get some sort of inspiration from seeing something, or you find the right time to execute something you’ve thought of before but had put on hold. That’s the nice thing about being in any creative field: the outside is your inspiration. Well, both the outside and the inside; it’s a never-ending process.