“Eclectic glam,” the photographer Maitina Borromeo says about the flat Lani Pasquet shares with Jay Chiongbian before the day of the photoshoot. It’s something said with some backing, considering Maitina is a close friend of Lani and had actually offered some insight into the home’s final look. “I couldn’t find the words to really describe it, but that would be it. I looked it up online, and it’s actually a thing.”
As it turns out, the description is pretty accurate. The two-bedroom apartment is a play on textures, colors and materials that came together for a sophisticated, wordly aesthetic. It shouldn’t be a surprise really, considering Lani’s family’s La Galuche brand is known for their shagreen-lined quirky-chic pieces.
“It’s really mostly whatever Jay already had in his house, and the pieces that I had gathered through the years,” Lani says, laughingly admitting that she really didn’t have a specific look in mind at all. “I just put them all together and gave them my bohemian twist. It still keeps on changing, depending on what I have in the warehouse.”
For his part, Jay jokes that he didn’t get to have as big of an input in the home’s design. “I didn’t have a say in this at all. She’d ask me what I thought and I’d say something, and she’d do the exact opposite. But that’s how women are, right?” he adds in jest.
Located in an older condominium building, the flat is considerably larger than some of the places available in the market today, although Jay admits it was partly through their own efforts. “We changed a lot of things to make it more spacious,” Jay explains, pointing out some alterations—the door was moved further into the hallways for a more spacious foyer, they tore down the kitchen and service kitchen walls for a more open floor plan, repositioned the bedroom doors for a more optimal use of space, and closed off parts of the balconies. “This was actually a three-bedroom unit, but we took down the wall between two of them for a bigger master bedroom.”
The careful consideration given to maximizing space makes an incredible impact, giving the living areas an airy feel that’s further complemented by the view—the 18th hole of Cebu Country Club’s golf course. The large open area next door often brings with it a cool breeze, along with a few stray golf balls that are “courtesy of Bob Booth and Jiji Gullas. That’s why we have the screens,” Jay laughs, referring to the windows’ protective covers. “But it’s also nice because we see a lot of our friends play through.”
Inside, the open space gave Lani a blank canvas to bring in her pieces. She begins talking about the stories behind some of the items in the home—a red coral that had been given by a friend who moved away, African pieces that her grandfather had acquired from when he’d lived in Nigeria, a basket designed by Marguerite Lhuillier, some Chinese pieces that had belonged to Jay’s family.
What’s noticeable though is an abundance of lamps. “She loves lamps. Every time she goes somewhere, she brings back a lamp,” Jay says. “I don’t think she realizes it.”
Apparently, she does. Some of the lamps had been acquired from traveling, like the orange one with the Vietnamese figure, and the bedside lamps that she’d bought in Bali. “A lot of the lamps are from Bali. One time, I went into a store to look at one lamp, and I came home with a whole container full of lamps,” she laughs. The others come with their own interesting backstory—the capiz lamp had been a gift from a friend after a large capiz order, the shell ceiling lamp in the terrace was bought at a neighboring booth from Bacolod during a Cebu X furniture show.
The word eclectic comes to mind again, when going through the different rooms of the house. The living area is marked by a zebra hide, giving a touch of whimsy to the more classic pieces like the low dark wooden coffee table that had been in Gilt, a bar that Jay used to own, and the purple sofa with colored throw pillows. A pair of white armchairs frames the space—sitting next to a window is an oversized one with a gilded frame that had been a gift from furniture designer Carlo Cordaro, and the Detalia Aurora chair that Lani had customized with ostrich skin sits in the middle of the room. As a playful touch, a hippo peeks out from the tableau.
Just off the living area is the dining table, which sits on a woven area rug that dogs Java and Candra like racing around on. Off to the side is an antique buffet that had also been in Gilt. “Maitina had actually found it, in Carbon, and it turned out the place wasn’t even an antique store,” Jay laughs. “She, Lani and Delphine (Delorme) had been antique shopping, and they were going from store to store. The next one, where they found this, was actually just someone’s house.”
The kitchen, with its sheer black paneling and spacious counter was the only thing that Lani had been particular about. “I love to cook. I cook everyday,” she explains, adding that she had designed it after an Italian kitchen. “I wanted to have a wide enough space so I can entertain on the counter, because I love having my friends over, and we can talk and eat while I cook.”
The bedrooms also have their own character, beginning with the spare bedroom that Lani had previously used as a yoga studio. “But when Gilt closed, Jay started using it as a home office,” she recalled. Now, one wall is covered completely by a Delphine Delorme painting that used to be at Gilt’s entrance—the striking pop-art piece is complemented by minimal furnishings for a maximum effect.
After its expansion, the master’s quarters is considerably spacious, with enough room for a boudoir and vanity, as well as a small nook that had previously been a balcony and where Lani now does her yoga. Artwork and Persian rugs come in as accents to the furniture pieces. A walk-in closet and bathroom are equally chic, with stone tiles for the walls and floors in the shower area, a cone-shaped shagreen sink with a mother of pearl basin, and gilded details on the closet doors.
“I spend most of my time in the kitchen,” Lani admits when asked what her favorite corner in the house is. “But I also like the bedroom—lounging around and reading in bed or the boudoir, and enjoying the breeze from outside.”
Probably the most notable thing about the home is how it all comes together with an air of insouciance, as if everything had just casually fallen into place—something that could probably be attributed to Lani’s French side.
In any case, Maitina remains correct in her initial depiction of the place—eclectic chic. She adds later, “It’s very grown-up,” and that’s true as well. The home represents a woman with an eye for design, an appreciation for the finer things in life, and a whole lot of personality—and in the end, the woman who lives there is exactly that.
Photography by Maitina Borromeo
Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, Dec-Jan 2017