The gated community of Urdaneta Village gives off a distinctive suburban vibe that is quite unusual as it is right in the heart of Makati’s central business district. Homes here are pockets of serenity and comfort amidst the urban sprawl and chaos.
One home, in particular, also stands as one family’s testament to genteel living and entertaining in a truly grand style.
Here, one is greeted by an assortment of artefacts and antiques carefully collected and curated by two generations of the family for the better part of four decades. The current owner explains that this collection was started by her father who travelled the world extensively throughout the 1970s.
“My father loved beautiful things,” she says. “He would go to Hong Kong and Europe just to attend auctions so that he could build up a beautiful and priceless collection of his own.”
Many people would be content to collect paintings or other decorative baubles such as Murano glass millefiore paperweights, but this family takes pride in full suites of matched period furniture from France and the United Kingdom, along with such curios as pieces of fine porcelain, crystal, jade, ivory and silver.
The current owner admits that the silverware is her favourite out of all the collections, citing that it may have historical significance. “Some of them date back to 1800s and were owned by famous people,” she says. “I always imagine how opulent and interesting [the original owners’] lives must have been.”
Perhaps some measure of the original owners’ psyche has spilled over into the house as it exudes an eclectic yet harmonious aura given the diverse origins of the furniture and objets d’art within. Oriental antiques and vases pair beautifully with late-Baroque and Regency-era chairs from France in the main sitting room; an extensive selection of French and English porcelain is likewise on display both in cases as well as on the dining table for merry gatherings with family and friends.
Most homes owned by avid collectors of art and fine furnishings tend to give off a rather austere, even forbidding ambience that is not conducive to convivial entertaining. This house, surprisingly, does not and even invites guests to come in and enjoy comfortable moments in well-appointed surroundings. For this, the services of a floral designer who can easily match the overall elegance of the house with the table setting for an event are more than welcome.
La maitresse des fleurs
Bloomwoods Flowershop is a name familiar to those who adhere to high standards with regard to entertaining both at home and on an institutional level. The brainchild of event stylist and floral sculpture artist Mia Cabawatan-Lozada is known for unique and intricate floral arrangements to grace some of the country’s most prominent events, including the annual Tatler Ball.
With her emphasis on drawing together various elements into harmonious arrangements that embody the spirit of both an event and its venue, Cabawatan-Lozada is the perfect choice for crafting luxurious centrepieces and place settings that perfectly capture an “East Meets West” theme that is in keeping with the overall appearance of the house.
As Cabawatan-Lozada herself states, “I am inspired by art, classic pieces like old-fashioned wood carvings and silverware and, of course, Mother Nature.”
Diplomacy by design
Given that many of the pieces in the owners’ collection are either French or were purchased in France, Cabawatan-Lozada’s dream dinner setting was laid out for no less than Emmanuel Macron, the recently-elected President of France, and his wife Brigitte.
“I chose them because I wanted to know more about the latest power couple,” she enthuses. “Plus, my grand table setting reflects the current trend, which adds an Asian twist to classic European style.”
In order to match the ornate carvings of the gilded wooden Baroque-era dining table, the robust colour scheme of the room and the décor which includes an exquisite blue and white decorative panel and a shimmering crystal chandelier, the designer chose a somewhat muted palette to complement the space along with a pure white schema for the place settings.
Here, a white table-scape catches the eye, one laid out with classic Noritake plates and cups, as well as glass water goblets from Arc. The owners’ collection of silver cutlery—some by flatware legend Christofle—adds a glimmer that accents the purity of the colours.
Even the flowers are a salute to the west as Cabawatan-Lozada combines fluffy, cloudlike hydrangeas with spring blossoms in shades of pink and lilac like hyacinths, peonies and delphiniums. These are artfully arranged in cylindrical oriental vases and ginger jars to evoke a harmonious meeting of cultures in a single space. The flowers were specifically selected to reflect the gentility and old-world elegance of the house and the collections it holds.
With regard to this particular arrangement, Cabawatan-Lozada says, “All of my events and table settings are unique in their own way. I have done a lot of special dinner and lunch parties for ambassadors and celebrities, but It is the understated grandeur and Old World charm of this house that sets the arrangements apart from anything I’ve ever done.”
Photos: courtesy of Aldwin Aspillera | Art Direction & Production: Mia Borromeo
Originally published on Philippine Tatler Homes Volume 17 with the title "Old World Living."