Though a business executive like his father Enrique, Inigo Zobel loves to design houses. In this, his latest two-story abode,, he is ably assisted by his wife Maricris. Relating to both the physical environment and the country’s traditions, the house pulls elements of old Manila and combines these with a fiery Hispanic flair. There are gener ous doors and windows throughout, creating an airy feeling typical of traditional Filipino houses. Stained-glass windows with geometric designs, executed by Kraut, a Manila institution since the 1900s, illuminate the stairwell. Multiple matching wooden doors featuring engraved fleurettes came from a demolished 19th-century Manila house. True to the spirit of the Spanish Mediterranean littoral where they vacation regularly, the Zobels love strong colors and confidently express this both inside and outside.
One enters the house into a narrow hall with large windows and built-in seats. This leads onto a dramatic living room with wide narra planks, tribal carpets, and rust-colored walls —surrounding furniture richly upholstered in turquoise and mahogany tones. These rich shades form a striking setting for a large, bold abstraction of Japanese geishas by painter Ben Cabrera — from whose artwork Maricris picked up the rust tones for her walls. Other rooms are painted in strong but soothing colors: grass-green for one, sea-blue for another. The living room is lined with large doors that open easily to a wide lanai running beside the garden. Though there is a formal dining room with a chandelier, the Zobels usually dine in the outdoor lanai on Budji-designed furniture. Across the garden, stone steps lead to an elevated pool dominated by a Balinese bale. The entire pool and pond complex—a wondrous setting by night—was designed by Bali-based landscaper Made Wijaya.
The exterior of this concrete house is coated with smashed clay painted in light orange. It has a high-pitched roof with wide eaves, a sensible response to tropical conditions. The house is located in Makati, an area that was mostly grassland outside Manila until the 1950s. But the Ayalas, who owned this grassland, commissioned a new city here with broad avenues, high-rise office buildings, and residential areas. It was a success, and many of the houses in this book are in the area.
(Previous Pages) Inigo and Maricris Zobel’s latest two-story, concrete house feels proudly Hispanic with its terracotta colors, tile roof with wide eaves, and the stairway-tower’s art-deco, stained-glass windows (pictured here on right). The front door (left) is the largest among multiple., etched wooden doors recycled from an old Binondo, Manila, house. The regal dining room centerpiece (top) is framed with tropical curtains from France and raffia shades by Soumak.
The Zobel foyer (a Tuscan-style silver-finished dome) leads to a sunny carpeted hall (left) with large windows. At the far end ate Inigo and his attist-mother Rocio, in a portrait by Claudio Bravo. The interiors were dressed and furnished by Maricris Cardenas Zobel with Ben Hughes of Steven Leach. “I like the colors and style of southern Spain, combined with this rich Turkish feeling,” says Maricris, who claims a Mexican-Filipino bloodline. Modern artworks in the corner (right) are by Inigo’s uncle, minimalist painter Fernando Zobel, and the Filipino cubist Malang.
The sala opens to a wide, comfortable lanai (above) clad in ocher-toned Turkish limestone tiles and Asian tropical furnishings. The owners entertain on this relaxed verandah among rattan-weave sofas and Chinese artifacts and accents. Across the back yard is a long, elevated pool dominated by a Balinese bale, a watery complex (opposite) that transforms into an idyllic setting by night.