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.

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