The ART of Living

They say art is a re­flec­tion of man’s soul, and this master­piece of a prop­erty by the beach is a tes­ta­ment to its res­i­dent’s own

Philippine Tatler Homes - - LUXE HOMES - WORDS Ni­cole Sindiong PHOTOGRAPHY toto labrador

PRE­VI­OUS PAGE Up­hol­stered high-back Lazy dining chairs by Pa­tri­cia Urquiola and an Athos bench by Paolo Piva sur­round the float­ing dining ta­ble, which uses thick plex­i­glass for sup­port

Juan An­to­nio Men­doza y González’s home out­side the city is a 700-square-me­tre can­vas of his life and work. For the renowned ar­chi­tect and in­te­rior designer, build­ing a home in Tali Beach in Na­sugbu, Batan­gas was not a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make. J An­to­nio Men­doza—as he is known amongst his peers in the in­dus­try—en­joyed many week­ends on the beach with his fam­ily as a child. “When­ever pos­si­ble, on Fri­days, my par­ents would take us to Na­sugbu right af­ter com­ing home from school at the Ate­neo de Manila,” he re­counts of such trips that in­spired his affin­ity for sand and sea. The fourbed­room split-level is Men­doza’s main res­i­dence, and not a week­end pied-àterre like most beach­front homes. “This is my pri­vate sanc­tu­ary,” he says. When work does not de­mand that he stays in the city, days are spent here with those clos­est to him. “My fam­ily, my cousins, they are my usual guests,” he adds.

Much like the idea be­hind his cho­sen lo­ca­tion, the con­cept for the prop­erty it­self was in­spired by Men­doza’s pas­sions

and craft. “I en­vi­sioned it to be sharp, to be very sim­ple but with so­phis­ti­ca­tion and clar­ity of de­sign,” he says of his ini­tial plans for the house. Out of this vi­sion came a mod­ern master­piece— straight lines and clean an­gles com­ing to­gether to form a living space that com­ple­ments the nat­u­ral el­e­ments sur­round­ing it, with ex­pan­sive win­dows and open­ings that al­low nat­u­ral light and sea breeze to flow seam­lessly through the space. The house it­self, which cov­ers 200 square me­tres of the prop­erty, is the quin­tes­sen­tial re­flec­tion of Men­doza’s mas­tery of the art and tech­nique of ar­chi­tec­ture.

The mas­ter’s bed­room, his favourite spot at home, has cor­ner glass win­dows that open to the living room, pool, and the sun­set—“so I am al­ways a part of all the beauty that sur­rounds,” Men­doza says. The living room opens up to a 100-square-me­tre ter­raza (ter­race) over­look­ing the sea. In keep­ing with the ar­chi­tec­tural theme of the house, an asym­met­ri­cal in­fin­ity pool sits by the edge, the blue sky above re­flected on still, clear wa­ter over dark tile floor­ing.

Strate­gi­cally ar­ranged around the open area are con­tem­po­rary designer fur­ni­ture that, be­sides pro­vid­ing com­fort­able loung­ing, may be con­sid­ered works of art them­selves. Men­doza iden­ti­fies two of his favourite items in the house: the Crois­sant sofa and the black Bloom chair, both sig­na­ture pieces from the col­lec­tion of his friend Ken­neth Cobon­pue. He is par­tic­u­larly proud of the lat­ter, which was a per­sonal gift from the mul­ti­awarded industrial designer. “I have the distinc­tion of hav­ing the only black Bloom Chair in ex­is­tence,” Men­doza says of the piece, which was cus­tomised ac­cord­ing to his sig­na­ture colour pal­ette.

Equally im­pres­sive is the round white Canasta sofa by the Span­ish ar­chi­tect and designer Pa­tri­cia Urquiola, the same seat­ing used in a luxury ho­tel’s pool­side in Barcelona. Men­doza had es­pe­cially or­dered the piece from an in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned de­sign mag­a­zine.

Though Men­doza em­braces lines and an­gles in ar­chi­tec­ture—not­ing the modernist ar­chi­tect Richard Neu­tra and Ger­man art school Bauhaus as in­flu­ences—his style as a designer, in fact, is more eclec­tic. He de­scribes it as “a flaw­less, seam­less, clever mix of moder­nity and an­tiq­uity,” adding that it is “a very dif­fer­ent side of me. It’s a side of me I’ve al­ways liked.”

Let­ting his artis­tic pas­sions take con­trol, he draws in­spi­ra­tion from a mix of con­cepts and ob­jects when designing a home—his­tory, travel, even his own child­hood. “I am eas­ily in­spired when I see beau­ti­ful homes, ob­jets d’art, or even en­dear­ing per­son­al­i­ties,” says Men­doza. An orig­i­nal paint­ing by his friend Jaime Zó­bel is proudly dis­played in his home, also a per­sonal gift from the

cel­e­brated in­dus­tri­al­ist and artist. “Yet I some­times am in­spired by the most mun­dane or sim­ple things—like a wellde­signed pa­per clip. That’s the artist’s pas­sion in me,” he adds.

Philip­pine his­tory, in par­tic­u­lar, is a strong in­flu­ence in Men­doza’s de­sign work. “The Philip­pines has a very dis­tinct cul­ture,” he says. “We are very dif­fer­ent from our Asian neigh­bours. I al­ways like to say we are a Latin Amer­i­can coun­try swept to Asia by a gi­ant ti­dal wave.” The His­panic and Moro flavours, specif­i­cally, are un­miss­able in his home. Dis­played amidst the strong lines and an­gles of the in­te­ri­ors are iconic jars and an­tiques such as a 19th cen­tury Gothic-style gilded al­tar—also a favourite item of his. Ac­cord­ing to the dis­tin­guished in­te­rior designer, such el­e­ments tem­per the moder­nity of the ar­chi­tec­ture. Their gold tones and patina break the monotony in a pal­ette of black, white, grey, and brown.

Men­doza cred­its his Span­ish an­ces­try for his affin­ity to this era in Philip­pine his­tory. Hav­ing gen­er­a­tions of fam­ily mem­bers who grew up and resided in In­tra­muros, he notes the Walled City as a ma­jor in­spi­ra­tion in his work: “My lines are very mod­ern and yet In­tra­muros is my sanc­tu­ary. It is in this bas­tion of His­pano-filipino cul­ture where I am at home.”

Tak­ing a cue from the nat­u­ral

He de­scribes it as “a flaw­less, seam­less, clever mix of moder­nity and an­tiq­uity,” adding that it is “a very dif­fer­ent side of me. It’s a side of me I’ve al­ways liked”

green­ery sur­round­ing the beach, plants are care­fully plot­ted around Men­doza’s prop­erty, ex­tend­ing to se­lect rooms in­side such as the bath­rooms and living spa­ces. The har­mo­nious mix of greens and an­tique el­e­ments adds char­ac­ter, warmth, and com­fort to the strik­ingly con­tem­po­rary prop­erty.

Like a true artist, Men­doza de­signs homes by in­stinct. “I don’t find rea­sons to cre­ate. Oth­er­wise, it ceases to be­come art,” he ex­plains. Whilst he takes a very hands-on ap­proach when it comes to se­lec­tion of ma­te­ri­als, and is par­tic­u­lar about de­tails such as tex­tures and colours to use, he is not con­strained by any rules in de­sign. Rather, he taps into a well­spring of knowl­edge and years of ex­pe­ri­ence to lead his work. It is pre­cisely for this rea­son that he con­sid­ers his prop­erty by Tali Beach as his best and favourite work. It is an im­pec­ca­ble dis­play of J An­to­nio Men­doza’s ex­per­tise and mélange of in­flu­ences. Like brush to can­vas, he cre­ated his dream home from a pal­ette of pas­sion and skill.

THIS PAGE: The sleek hor­i­zon­tal planes of the home’s ar­chi­tec­ture are

not marred by lush land­scap­ing

FROM LEFT On the pedestal be­side an art­work by Jaime Zó­bel de Ayala is an an­tique sil­ver Moro

gadur from Lanao del Sur; the in­fin­ity pool is a per­fect place to re­lax on a sunny day

OP­PO­SITE CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT The neu­tral pal­ette of black, white, and an­thracite is car­ried all the way to the bed­rooms; a glass win­dow com­mands a view of the lush fo­liage; hur­ri­cane lamps line the white stairs at the main en­trance of the home

THIS PAGE A view of the ter­raza (ter­race) and the in­fin­ity pool

OP­PO­SITE PAGE A 17th cen­tury-style

pa­pelero (draw­ers) in ka­m­agong, narra, ivory, and tor­toise shell from Os­mundo An­tiques is topped by a black fan coral and an an­tique gadur

THIS PAGE Canasta sofa by Pa­tri­cia Urquiola, Bubu stool/ta­ble by Philippe Starck, and Crois­sant sofa by Ken­neth Cobon­pue are some of the high­lights in the living room

OP­PO­SITE CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT The sun­set peek­ing through the home’s ex­te­ri­ors; on top of a 19th-cen­tury có­moda (chest of draw­ers) are blue and white porce­lain, sha­grin boxes from Cebu, and sea shells; man­zanita twigs from Mex­ico are tucked be­hind a Sung Dy­nasty brown jar that serves as a ham­per in the mas­ter bath­room; a can­tilevered ledge by An­to­nio Cit­te­rio for Abitare and a sketch by HR Ocampo wel­come guests at the vestibule

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