Eric Paras on his workspace and the trou­ble with not know­ing when to stop work­ing

Anatomy of a designer’s workspace


I NTE­RIOR DESIGNER ERIC PARAS calls him­self “a modernist who is in love with the old world,” and noth­ing is more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of that than his life­style show­room called A-11 lo­cated in a re­stored post-war home in Pasay City. From the out­side, A-11 is a white, unas­sum­ing Amer­i­can-era home with clap­boarded ex­te­rior walls. In­side A-11, Paras’ mod­ern fur­nish­ings min­gle with the old world in a style that is true to his own artis­tic na­ture.


A col­lec­tion of post-war homes hides be­hind a stark-white wall with the im­pos­ing num­bers “2680” dis­played next to a black gate. En­ter­ing the com­pound is like step­ping through a time por­tal, with rows of lib­er­a­tion-style houses on the left and a man­i­cured lawn on the right, lead­ing you down a drive­way and even­tu­ally onto Paras’ doorstep. “I have a cre­ative high in the morn­ing,” Paras tells us when asked about the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing in such a dis­tinct set­ting. “Dur­ing my col­lege years, it was a fas­ci­na­tion and a dream. When I used to pass by those beau­ti­ful houses in Pasay and Malate, I wanted to live in one [of them].”

Paras and A-11 have oc­cu­pied this small, al­most se­cret plot in the Pasay com­pound for a decade. A cul­tural oa­sis, the 2680 F.B. Har­ri­son com­pound has the fur­ni­ture designer as im­me­di­ate neigh­bors with the Ate­lier of Jo­jie Lloren, the Avel­lana Art Gallery, and the bou­tique ho­tel, The Henry Manila. In this quiet lit­tle neigh­bor­hood, Paras awakes to his own lit­tle par­adise, a respite from the fast pace of Metro Manila, where the designer gets to work at his own pace to suit his own taste and his par­tic­u­lar clients.

“We thrive only through re­fer­rals and rep­u­ta­tion,” he ex­plains. “[It is an] ad­van­tage of hav­ing your own brand and show­rooms, which are

like ac­tual port­fo­lios of your works. A prospec­tive client can al­ready get a good im­pres­sion and over­view of your style and the qual­ity of work they will be get­ting.” Which is why Paras is for­tu­nate enough to have much con­trol over his cre­ative projects. He de­scribes the busi­ness as “low key but thriv­ing,” sus­tained by “a good ros­ter of happy and re­peat clients.”


“Living and work­ing on the com­pound is living my dream,” Paras proudly states. “It is sel­dom that I wake up in the morn­ing [feel­ing unin­spired]. And that only hap­pens when I am sick.”

Paras oc­cu­pies two of the build­ings on the com­pound. One is A-11, which func­tions as his re­tail space and of­fice where his op­er­a­tions, ad­min­is­tra­tive, and de­sign teams work. The other is his per­sonal home, which con­tains a pri­vate work area and a li­brary where he con­ducts de­sign re­search. He also main­tains a work­shop where he works on fast-track or­ders, sam­ples, and pro­to­types. Living by his pro­fes­sional work­place is hardly a bother for this pas­sion­ate designer, as he tells us, “I love what I am do­ing. The only prob­lem is when to stop work­ing.”


“Work­ing on A-11, an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion was to re­tain the orig­i­nal and dis­tinct char­ac­ter of the house. I [barely] al­tered the in­te­rior plans.” The white walls, orig­i­nal slid­ing win­dows, and bal­dosa-tiled floors cre­ate the vin­tage frame for the ever-chang­ing in­te­ri­ors of his “show-house.”

Paras’ style is ev­i­dently in­spired by industrial, straight­for­ward de­signs with clean shapes and edges: neat and in­no­va­tive with­out be­ing over the top or dated. They sit com­fort­ably in the nos­tal­gic space. “I also tapped into the unique­ness of the set­ting, putting it as an ad­van­tage into [cre­at­ing] a dif­fer­ent kind of re­tail con­cept.” He looks to the old world for in­spi­ra­tion on oc­ca­sion but with a cer­tain cau­tion. “I don’t want my work to be [old­fash­ioned]. I want it to be un­af­fected by trends and [aim to] make it time­less. That is al­ways the chal­lenge.” And it is a chal­lenge that he has thus far faced well.

ECLEC­TIC COL­LEC­TION Fromtop: A mix of mod­ern and vin­tage feels for the living room; One of the cof­fee ta­ble books on the designer’s shelf, Phaidon’s Room fea­tures a com­pre­hen­sive over­view of con­tem­po­rary in­te­rior de­sign and de­sign­ers; Slid­ing win­dows...

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