By KATHRINA PAZ ELEFANTE
A friendly white monkey stands on top of a cabinet and offers a light bulb. It’s a bizarre yet riveting piece–and just one of the many interesting things you will find at Artelano 11 (A-11).
One of Manila’s best-kept secrets, this furniture store and showroom by interior designer Eric Paras transports you to a different world with its eclectic mix of art deco and mid-century inspired pieces set inside a 1950s house–an ideal example of adaptive reuse.
“It was 14 years ago when I first saw the house. I saw its potential and decided to move my office from my home in Mandaluyong here. At that time, furniture showrooms were typically located inside malls so having a showroom in a ‘secret’ location promised a different experience,” Paras shares.
Bold colors can be found in every corner: Hand-made Italian glassware, fine bone china and most prominently, the Machuca tiles that give the place an exotic air. Sartin or enamel cups are elevated with an artistic arrangement, which complements the more luxurious Romblon-made marble accents. Every element is a source of inspiration and adds beauty to what is already there.
“I have respect for the house. As you enter, you would still feel you’re inside an old structure. I didn’t want it to feel like a museum so there are contemporary touches such as the use of color,” Paras describes.
The space is largely inspired by his travels, particularly of a trip to Paris. “I saw small Parisian shops that offered very personalized service and were thriving because of the support of the local community and thought that can also happen with A-11.”
The place also serves as a venue for creative workshops such as planter-making and mug-making, which were recently held in collaboration with local pottery shop Tahanan Pottery.
“I believe that the best way to preserve a heritage structure is to use it,” Paras explains. Through his vision, A-11 has become more than just a showroom–it is where you can let your mind wander into the realm of wilder ideas and entertain a different definition of beauty.
Photos by JOVEN LORENZO