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.
TIME CAPSULE PARADISE
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.”
ATMOSPHERE AND DESIGN MEET
“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...