ROB­BIE AN­TO­NIO

Unit­ing the world’s pre­em­i­nent ar­chi­tects, artists and de­sign­ers, ROB­BIE AN­TO­NIO is the van­guard of Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted, the pur­veyor of an ex­clu­sive se­ries of pre­fab­ri­cated, live­able spa­ces

Prestige (Malaysia) - - Contents - WORDS JUSTIN NG | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY KIM MUN @ HOP­SCOTCH STU­DIO | STYLING IBNU ASWAN STYLING AS­SIS­TANCE JOYCE LIM & AN­DREW LOH | MAKE-UP JOEY YAP | HAIR DER­REN FONG @ SHAWN CUT­LER LO­CA­TION THE ST. REGIS KUALA LUMPUR

Sit­ting down with the van­guard of Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted, the pur­veyor of an ex­clu­sive se­ries of pre­fab­ri­cated, live­able spa­ces

“I only use one type of po­made,” he replies with con­vic­tion when the hair­styl­ist of­fers his sug­ges­tion on what hair prod­ucts to use. His as­sis­tant is dis­patched to the suite to re­trieve his po­made. He is not eas­ily swayed and cer­tainly not eas­ily dis­suaded. He knows what he wants. It is there­fore not a sur­prise that he be­came the youngest per­son to join the Forbes’ 50 Rich­est In the Philip­pines list. He joins his fa­ther at num­ber 25 with a col­lec­tive net worth of US$400 mil­lion. To pi­geon­hole him as just a high-net worth in­di­vid­ual is a dis­ser­vice. He was named one of the 50 Asians Who Are Chang­ing the Way We Live by Sin­ga­pore’s Strait­sTimes. He was crowned the Philip­pine Real Es­tate Per­son­al­ity of the Year by Prop­er­tyGuru ear­lier this year. He was also recog­nised by BuiltWorld’s as one of the 25 Pi­o­neers Who Are Trans­form­ing the Built In­dus­try along with Elon Musk of Tesla and Adam Neu­mann, co-founder of WeWork. He is a dark knight rid­ing a uni­corn on a cru­sade to rev­o­lu­tionise real es­tate. His name is Rob­bie An­to­nio. His equine is Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted.

Dur­ing the in­ter­mis­sion, he passes a jet black busi­ness card to me, com­plete with a hot stamp of Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted’s em­blem. The front shows the cus­tom­ary with his name in cap­i­tal let­ters and a trio of phone num­bers to re­gional of­fices.

He dis­closes that the card is not com­plete. Not be­cause it is er­ro­neously printed; it is be­cause they will be open­ing re­gional head­quar­ters in key con­ti­nents to sup­port ex­pan­sion. The first in­ter­na­tional of­fice, he says, will be in Dubai. Down-reach­ing in the pipe­line in­clude the US, Europe and South Asia.

Rob­bie’s as­sis­tant re­turns min­utes later with his trusted hair prod­uct. The hair­styl­ist pro­ceeds to work his magic, prep­ping Rob­bie for the cam­era. Lean­ing against the bar, look­ing suave, Rob­bie flashes a mil­lion-dol­lar smile at the pho­tog­ra­pher, “I am ready.”

Rob­bie cut his teeth in the US. Upon grad­u­at­ing from North­west­ern Univer­sity with a Bach­e­lor’s de­gree in Eco­nomics, he founded An­to­nio De­vel­op­ment, which to­day has more than 42 mil­lion square feet of prop­erty in var­i­ous stages of de­vel­op­ment in­clud­ing 63 ver­ti­cal build­ings un­der man­age­ment and de­vel­op­ment, 10,000 res­i­den­tial, of­fice and com­mer­cial units and 6,750 homes. He also has an MBA from Stan­ford Univer­sity. The New York-based de­vel­op­ment com­pany is re­spon­si­ble for Cen­tu­rion – the first res­i­den­tial build­ing in the Big Ap­ple de­signed by Pritzker Prize win­ner Pei Part­ner­ships Ar­chi­tects. Cen­tu­rion proved to be one of the many lux­ury homes born out of col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts and Rob­bie’s con­scious de­ci­sions to be ex­cep­tional at ev­ery­thing he does. The Mid­town de­vel­op­ment is among the first projects Rob­bie em­barked on.

Back then, even though he was in his 20s and fresh out of school, it didn’t faze him. “On the con­trary, I was very ex­cited. I wanted to prove to my­self that I can be suc­cess­ful on my own, us­ing my own abil­i­ties, and creat­ing my own con­nec­tions to start up a busi­ness. I con­sider my­self to be a very in­de­pen­dent per­son and I also en­joy tak­ing on chal­lenges,” the 41-year-old en­thuses. “Build­ing some­thing from scratch on your own and con­tin­u­ing to start new ven­ture is par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing and I am just glad that I was able to do it.”

Cen­tu­rion also gave him the im­pe­tus to po­si­tion build­ings in a proper for­mat. Piece by piece, he be­gan to lay down the tiles for his domi­noes. When he re­turned to his home­land, he ap­proached recog­nis­able brands for res­i­dences whose in­te­ri­ors were fit­ted out by lux­ury brands such as Ar­mani/Casa and Ver­sace Home.

“They (Ar­mani/Casa) don’t even want much art on the walls,” Rob­bie quips in a Forbes’ in­ter­view, elu­ci­dat­ing the in­te­ri­ors of the plush apart­ments sited at Trump Tower Manila, which is set to open its doors soon. When the project was first an­nounced to much fan­fare, Rob­bie was grac­ing mag­a­zine cov­ers and pho­tographed along­side the leader of the free world.

That min­i­mal­ist ap­proach is a far cry from Rob­bie’s own ob­ses­sion with the arts. He owns an ex­ten­sive art col­lec­tion by fa­mous painters and by fa­mous painters of him­self. His home dou­bles as a

The morn­ing started early. Test shots af­ter test shots were fired. The mono­light was tweaked mil­lime­tres by mil­lime­tres just so we could get the ex­act light­ing as en­vi­sioned on the mood board, be­fore the As­tor Bar took in guests who in­tended to swop board­room blues for happy hours. Each time, ex­po­sure had to be re-mea­sured so we could get the photo just right. He has a forth­right rep­u­ta­tion and an un­mis­take­able aura. He may not be the most soft-spo­ken per­son you will ever meet, but there is no doubt­ing his con­fi­dence.

de­pos­i­tory for the oeu­vre of self-por­traits en­ti­tled (ditto) Ob­ses­sion. The res­i­dence is de­signed by Dutch ar­chi­tect Rem Kool­haas, a Pritzker Prize win­ner who also hap­pens to be one of the most in­flu­en­tial ar­chi­tects of his gen­er­a­tion. While other houses have en­vi­able ad­dresses, Rob­bie’s home has that and more. It has an idio­syn­cratic name fit for a su­per­hero flick - Stealth - re­port­edly cost him up­wards of US$15 mil­lion. That was just for the con­struc­tion. The part-res­i­dence, part-mu­seum with its 25,000-square-foot space needed some em­bel­lish­ments wor­thy of its sta­tus. And so on the walls are price­less and painstak­ing com­mis­sioned cre­ations as part of Ob­ses­sion by the likes of Ju­lian Schn­abel, Mar­i­lyn Min­ter and David Salle. If you have not wit­nessed Schn­abel’s plate paint­ings, you might have watched his films that won over hearts at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val. “Art al­lows me to in­ject cre­ativ­ity. It is not just be­cause it is a pure in­vest­ment. I love work­ing with artists, ar­chi­tects, de­sign­ers. I like fash­ion peo­ple be­cause they are very cre­ative,” Rob­bie ex­plains. He ap­peared on

Van­i­tyFair and Wall­pa­per be­cause art crit­ics were en­thralled by his ar­dour. While he is still very much en­grossed with art, Ob­ses­sion has taken a back­seat to Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted.

“We can match that,” Rob­bie roars as his busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager takes up a seat on the side-line dur­ing the pho­to­shoot af­ter he is in­structed not to leave his sight. Amidst look­ing fiercely into the cam­era while strik­ing a re­laxed pose, the duo are in an ar­dent dis­cus­sion about clos­ing a busi­ness deal here in Kuala Lumpur. A lo­cal de­vel­oper has named its price – one that is much lower than the one pro­posed.

Peo­ple on the scene can per­ceive there is a hint of im­pa­tience in the air, per­haps born out of frus­tra­tion as the ne­go­ti­a­tions inch along. “It has to be right and it has to be fast,” Rob­bie spells out ef­fi­ciency as the value he places the most im­por­tance on. “Peo­ple say be pa­tient, I am the ex­act op­po­site. I want ev­ery­thing now. It is a sprint, not just a marathon. Peo­ple say it is a long-term thing. Yes, it is a marathon but to me it is al­ways a sprint.”

Afewyears ago, he sawthat there­was a dis­con­nect in the real es­tate sec­tor­wherein he could ex­ploit. For a build­ing to come into fruition, it con­sumes a lot of time in de­sign and on­site con­struc­tion. What if the whole process from the be­gin­ning to the end is stream­lined? A master de­vel­oper can or­der di­rectly, be it homes, pavil­ions or even vil­las, from a dig­i­tal cat­a­logue and then they are shipped and as­sem­bled on site, sav­ing man­power, time and, most im­por­tantly, costs - money. Eu­reka!

Launched in De­cem­ber 2015, Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted has been on a me­te­oric rise. “To date, we are present and have projects in 25 coun­tries with to­tal con­sol­i­dated project rev­enues of US$8.5 bil­lion with our part­ners in the next three to four years,” Rob­bie stresses. “We are ex­pected to de­liver 35,000 units from our projects. This is no small feat, es­pe­cially for a com­pany that is less than three years old.”

In the same pe­riod, Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted went through a cou­ple of rounds of fi­nanc­ing. The lat­est se­ries B fund­ing was con­cluded in Oc­to­ber 2017, pro­pel­ling its val­u­a­tion to over US$1 bil­lion, hence the much-cov­eted uni­corn – a term coined for a pri­vately-held start-up val­ued at over US$1 bil­lion. “Yes, we are not dis­count­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of rais­ing ex­ter­nal fund­ing, only to sup­port our planned global ex­pan­sion. We want to be present in 55 coun­tries by 2019 and in 85 coun­tries by the end of 2020. Nat­u­rally, we will need to beef up our re­sources and man­power in or­der to make this pos­si­ble. As to the man­ner of fund rais­ing, we are look­ing into the do­ing a se­ries C in 2019 and/or a pos­si­ble ini­tial coin of­fer­ing (ICO) for one of our ini­tia­tives,” Rob­bie lets me in on his fu­ture plans.

Se­ries C may see a fur­ther US$100 mil­lion in­jec­tion to fur­ther sup­port the uni­corn’s ex­pan­sion. He hints that Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted won’t stag­nate in its present ca­pac­ity, so even an even­tual US$10 bil­lion val­u­a­tion is not out of the ques­tion. Growth ex­cites him, be it win­ning new con­tracts, en­ter­ing

“Peo­ple say be pa­tient, I am the ex­act op­po­site. I want ev­ery­thing now. It is a sprint, not just a marathon. Peo­ple say it is a long-term thing. Yes, it is a marathon but to me it is al­ways a sprint”

new mar­kets or build­ing new fac­to­ries. Mean­while, Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted has grown from five peo­ple, in­clud­ing him­self, since its in­cep­tion to 1,200 peo­ple presently. I ask him is Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted cur­rently op­er­a­tionally prof­itable. His an­swer is a re­sound­ing “def­i­nitely”, how­ever, he de­clines to di­vulge any num­ber. “We are fi­nan­cially ready to sup­port our cur­rent or­ders,” he adds. He up­holds Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted adds value to any devel­op­ers. Rea­son be­ing the de­sign­ers he chooses to col­lab­o­rate with for his pre­fabs. “Ob­vi­ously, they need to be recog­nised for their works. It is the rep­u­ta­tion that I look for. They need to add value,” Rob­bie sets forth the con­di­tion. To fur­ther drive home the point, he cites the late Dame Zaha Ha­did, the Bri­tish-Iraqi ar­chi­tect famed for “lib­er­at­ing ar­chi­tec­tural ge­om­e­try, giv­ing it a whole new ex­pres­sive iden­tity”. Her work in­cludes Guangzhou Opera House and Bridge Pav­il­ion in Zaragoza, Spain. A din­ing pav­il­ion de­signed by Ha­did and Pa­trik Schu­macher, prin­ci­pal of Zaha Ha­did Ar­chi­tects, is pur­veyed on Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted’s web­site. The whim­si­cal Volu din­ing pav­il­ion is a cut­ting-edge, com­plex struc­ture with an ex­pres­sive form achieved through the bend­ing of flat sheet ma­te­ri­als, which won’t look out of place in ABug’sLife.

“A lot of peo­ple I work with started with busi­ness first and then they be­came friends. Some are friends first, then it (the re­la­tion­ship) be­came busi­ness. It is a nat­u­ral thing. I don’t work too hard to try to get peo­ple. It just has to be nat­u­ral for both to trust each other. I will try to do my best for their prod­ucts. At the end of the day, it is con­sumer choice,” Rob­bie of­fers his view­point on sep­a­rat­ing friend­ship and busi­ness and the dy­nam­ics be­tween the two.

“None­the­less, we can say that there is great de­mand for our prod­ucts. There is also sub­stan­tial in­ter­est in our mid-en­try homes be­cause they have more ac­ces­si­ble price points. In terms of geo­graph­i­cal reach, we now have sig­nif­i­cant pres­ence in Asia, South Amer­ica, Cen­tral Amer­ica, Europe, North Amer­ica and Africa.”

It was in the Mid­dle East that Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted scored its most lu­cra­tive deal to date. The mam­moth deal is worth US$3.2 bil­lion and en­tails the man­u­fac­tur­ing of lux­ury apart­ments and ho­tel vil­las in Dubai’s The World Is­lands, com­posed of 300 ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands. Rob­bie says these two- to three- bed­room lux­ury con­do­mini­ums will be pre­man­u­fac­tured, shipped and then as­sem­bled on­site.

Prov­ing that it is not a one-hit won­der, it sealed a US$210 mil­lion deal to build 60 lux­ury vil­las in San Gabriel Moun­tains, San Bernardino County in Cal­i­for­nia. Each unit boasts five to six bed­rooms, cost­ing US$3.5 mil­lion. Fur­ther down the shores in Rio de Janeiro, it bagged a US$460 mil­lion con­tract to sup­ply res­i­den­tial and ho­tel vil­las and other re­sort fa­cil­i­ties in an eco-re­sort de­vel­op­ment. Across the At­lantic Ocean, visi­tors to Barcelona will soon be stay­ing in the com­fort of ho­tel vil­las built by Rev­o­lu­tion Pre­crafted, af­ter a US$52 mil­lion con­tract signed that also in­cludes a club­house. Back in the Mid­dle East, in the scorch­ing Ara­bian Gulf coun­try of Bahrain, it will in­volve in sup­ply­ing up to 500 vil­las over a pe­riod of five years.

In be­tween ex­hibit­ing at De­sign Mi­ami, im­mers­ing in meet­ing af­ter meet­ing, Rob­bie starts his day early. He leaves the bed at 4am ev­ery day, hits the gym and ar­rives in the of­fice be­fore nor­mal busi­ness hours. “I was re­cently in Sin­ga­pore for the Forbes Next Ty­coons con­fer­ence. It was a good time to net­work with them (at­ten­dees who are busi­ness ti­tans and heirs from mostly around Asia). I re­ally try to bal­ance be­tween dif­fer­ent facets of busi­ness and of my­self as an in­di­vid­ual. When I have a bit of time when I travel, I get to see a bit of the (lo­cal) cul­ture like art and de­sign,” Rob­bie opens up on his per­son­al­ity as the pho­to­shoot draws to a close. “I can be very artis­tic; I can be very play­ful; I can be very hard in the board­room.”

Still brim­ming with boun­ti­ful en­ergy whipped up by mul­ti­ple changes of cloth­ing, hair­styles and poses, he nudges me to ask him more ques­tions while a hairdryer hov­ers above his head. So what is your plan for the rest of the day? “I had all my busi­ness meet­ings yes­ter­day. I am go­ing to com­plete them and head to Manila in a bit, Dubai on Satur­day, In­dia on (com­ing) Mon­day. I will spend the week­end (at home). Then all the way to seven dif­fer­ent South Amer­i­can coun­tries. I am hit­ting the road in Europe and the Mid­dle East for road­shows un­til Novem­ber. We want to be preva­lent and ubiq­ui­tous, in six con­ti­nents, which we al­ready are. This is all busi­ness. There is no play.

“But this is play. When I am hav­ing a pho­tog­ra­pher and (cre­ative) di­rec­tor like this, I am hav­ing fun,” Rob­bie says with a laugh re­fer­ring to the pho­to­shoot.

“We can say that there is great de­mand for our prod­ucts. There is also sub­stan­tial in­ter­est in our mid-en­try homes be­cause they have more ac­ces­si­ble price points”

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