A store in the guise of an artist’s playground
Aphrodite was borne of the sea, emerging from its foamy crest in her full glory. As conspicuous a scene as this is the rise of Tina Fernandez’s Aphro Living at The Alley at Karrivin, a place that is heavily inspired by this particular mythology.
Aphro’s layout, with its famous wooden slide, easily commands attention. Fernandez collaborated with Jagnus Design Studio architects Sonny Sunga and Arnold Austria to build the place. Before arriving at the name, Fernandez had taken a mythology workshop and discovered a close kinship with Aphrodite. “[ Sunga and Austria] listened to my story, and we decided to create a space to present the art and design I like, where the space resembled a temple,” she explains.
At the entrance, Leeroy New’s “Liquid Gold,” a sculpture of what seems to be an extraterrestrial creature, welcomes art enthusiasts. Jacob Lindo’s sculptures of humans, their hands attached to their faces, then lead them to more functional artwork: stoneware by various potters, shoes by Luis Espiritu, and bags by Rita Nazareno, presented in a neat jumble on the steps that lead up to Fernandez’s own Mount Olympus. From here, she oversees the whole place,
even the events happening at the pop-up store beneath her office, through a huge peephole. “I’m attached to the intent of the artist in the work,” Fernandez reveals. One word that could possibly and adequately describe the works that fill Aphro is “eclectic.” They vary from Nazareno’s hippo hamper, fit for a child’s room, to Lui Medina’s marble works that can be hung as statement pieces in a living room. If there is anything that defines Aphro’s spirit, it’s the aforementioned wooden slide, which compels every visitor to forego the stairs in favor of playing for a few minutes. “I want people to feel an adrenaline rush, not just from what they see but also from what they experience here,” Fernandez says. Aphro lets loose a carefree spirit that urges a person to have fun, to take a turn down the slide, and run around like the starry-eyed Louvre visitor in Bernardo Bertolucci’s film The Dreamers. “I want this place to be a reflection of life,” says Fernandez, “to be filled with art, soul, and excitement.”
Aphro Living, The Alley at Karrivin, 2316 Chino Roces Ext., Makati City
Architects Sonny Sunga and Arnold Austria used plywood to construct the whole setup. The display changes depending on what art objects are launched and what gets sold.
The pop-up store inside currently exhibits the colorful culture of Morocco.
Aside from Aphro Living, Tina Fernandez also manages the gallery Art Informal, which will similarly be renovated by Jagnus Design Studio.