THE AM­BIANCE IS MOODY BUT NOT DREARY, SOLEMN BUT STILL HOMEY.

Real Living (Philippines) - - Real Homes -

“Ini­tially, the ceil­ing was also dark and painted to match the wood… when I saw the fin­ished ceil­ing, I didn’t like it. I think the white makes the space feel taller than it re­ally is some­how.” The leatheruphol­stered sofa was cus­tom­ized to Gio’s de­sign; the metal-and­glass cof­fee ta­ble is from West Elm, Es­tan­cia Mall.

The de­signer de­cided to forego a din­ing area so that he could max­i­mize the liv­ing area in­stead. “When I was de­sign­ing this, that Ja­pan trip was fresh and I was still re­ally in­spired by that Ja­panese back al­ley vibe that’s kind of un­pre­dictable. It’s a com­bi­na­tion of mod­ern, tra­di­tional, and luxe—ac­ces­si­ble luxe,” he ex­plains with a laugh.

to the bath­room—sit­u­ated right across the kitchen—with the shower area fit­ting right into the story as though it were a wa­ter­fall amongst rocky ter­rain.

When asked if the liv­ing area is the “for­est” that one tra­verses be­fore go­ing into the “cave,” Gino heartily replies, “Yes, that’s ex­actly it!” Here, the story tran­si­tions into some­thing more per­sonal for the de­signer. “I took in­spi­ra­tion from a trip to Tokyo last year,” he says. “I wanted it to feel like how I felt when I was in the back­streets of Tokyo—su­per un­pre­dictable in the sense that you have th­ese tem­ple struc­tures right next to th­ese mod­ern struc­tures.” Dark wood pan­els line op­po­site walls of the space and wrap over the ex­ist­ing beams, leav­ing you with the im­pres­sion of be­ing un­der a canopy of large trees. A tall bam­boo plant sits in one cor­ner of the room, with its leaves in dif­fer­ent shades of green and brown, adding warmth, whimsy, and an or­ganic touch to the en­tire area.

Right off the liv­ing room, sep­a­rated by sim­ple black- framed, clear glass di­viders, the nar­ra­tive reaches its high­est peak as you step into the cave it­self—the bed­room. Here, you wit­ness the de­sign con­cept come into full bloom. “I think you need time con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing be­cause it dic­tates ev­ery­thing,” Gino ex­plains. “You need to es­tab­lish a strong foun­da­tion, a strong point of view. For this, it was just a cave—so when you hear that, you al­ready know it’s go­ing to be dark, it’s go­ing to be moody, and it’s go­ing to be tex­tured.”

And there is def­i­nitely no lack of tex­ture in this room: The walls are cov­ered in Vasari plas­ter, a nat­u­ral stony fin­ish that sub­tly sim­u­lates the inside of a cave. Tak­ing it a step fur­ther, Gino came up with hand­made “fungi” ap­pliqués molded from baked poly­mer clay and metic­u­lously glued one by one onto ar­eas of the wall across the bed. “I cre­ated th­ese brown streaks with acrylic paint and a pal­ette knife. I wanted it to feel the way you’d feel inside a cave, with lichen grow­ing around you. That’s the story.” And what a grand story this tiny space is.

In the nook where his study area is, Gino’s amaz­ing hand­i­work comes into play: his poly­mer clay “fungi” ap­pliqués painstak­ingly at­tached to the wall and painted over to make the ac­cent wall look like it's cov­ered in lichen. The study chair is by Stel­lar­works, avail­able at De­sign Story, Up­town Mall, Boni­fa­cio Global City.

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