Slender, flattened round arches, sometimes misleadingly called tudor, define the house of Ramon Antonio. Rows of these, opening like palm trees, make up the windows; large arches with narrow, stylized columns form the doors. They give the house a dignified, but relaxed, feel. They also say something about the owner’s artistic orientation. Drawn to Latin Europe, he travels regularly to Italy and loves Paris and Barcelona. But he equally fond of East Asia and takes his rows of colonial arches from Singapore’s Raffles Hotel and the traditional shophouses of the Straits Chinese.
Antonio’s prime influence was his father Pablo Antonio, one of the pioneers of modern Filipino architecture. Conversations at home often revolved around art, while free time was spent with his father on construction sites and in hardware stores. The elder Antonio’s buildings are elegant structures, carefully oriented to maximize air flow, thus eminently well-suited to the tropics. Elegance, airiness and practicality characterize his son’s houses as well. “I try not to depend on air-conditioning and artificial lighting,” he says. “Moreover, I am inclined to a more modern style, while avoiding mere trendiness.” The drawing room (right) illustrates this well. The walls are white, the floor of light Philippine marble, and light and air gently suffuse the room. The subtle leaps of the arches soften the room’s simple style, and because they focus the eye on the garden door, they make the room seem larger than it really is.
The decor reflects Antonio’s Latin-East Asian orientation: minimalist chairs by Mario Botta are placed adjacent black chairs and white tables by Philippe Starck. Northern Chinese tables made of hong or black-wood stand by a fine Chinese food cabinet and Ming-style horseshoe chairs. All are drawn together by a sensitive color palette: blacks and off-whites with occasional objects in silver, the owner’s preferred precious metal. Samples of Philippine modern art, like Luz and Albor paintings, emphasize the linear, black-and-white combinations he likes. For accent, one sofa is upholstered in bright peach red—to match the strong red painting by Arturo Luz that greets the visitor at the house entrance.
(Previous pages) On the sala’s north side a wide door frames an unusual glass table (inspired by a bamboo fish-trap) before it opens out to a sprawling Italian-inspired garden. The dinner setting is placed upon a classic ’50s wrought-iron garden set by Manila-based designer Ernst Korneld. The house itself demonstrates the architect’s Mediterranean-inspired approach to architecture, although as he says himself he is now “more inclined to a modern and minimalist style.”
The drawing room (above) illustrates Antonio’s love for tropical light and the allure of colonial arches of Straits Chinese shophouses. At ground level there are large picture windows; an eclectic array of designer-furniture—minimalist chairs by Mario Botta; modern chairs and tables by Philippe Starck; and Ming-style horseshoe chairs. An 18th-century Shan Buddha anchors the sala, and a peach-red sofa accents the room. An oriental luncheon room (right) looks out to the garden greenery and faux-walls of latticework. “Architecture is about creating the illusion of space in small areas,” he says.
The upper floor rooms have fine slatted windows-locally called persianas—within their flattened round arches (right), hearkening again to Antonio’s avowed taste for suffused light and the refined “Raffles look.” Art objects include stone Buddha heads and blue-and-white ceramics, Chinese furniture pieces and his favorite collections of ornate silver items and candles. “One must enjoy one’s home, be comfortable in gracious living,” the elegant eclectic says. “Collected things make the personality of the home.”
The decor reflects a sophisticated marriage of East and West—as Antonio mixes tactile textures, materials, and designs; and matches traditional Philippine furniture with modern Filipino art. His blue-and-white den (above) revolves around a striking abstract painting by modernist Gus Albor. (Opposite, clockwise from top left) The small glass budvase was picked up in a London shop; black wood tray with fine bamboo weave is from China. Two bone-inlaid wood cabinets are Filipiniana heirloom pieces from Baliuag, Bulacan. Blue optical painting is by modernist Romulo Olazo Linear red painting by National Artist Arturo Luz is paired with two red Burmese sounuks or lacquered offering jars.
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