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A Designer's Abode Filled With Filipino Furniture And Accents

This home of a noted interior designer is constantly evolving, but one thing remains the same: Filipino style takes center stage

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Original Article: Chinggay Labrador Photography: Rene Mejia Pictorial Direction: Gwyn Guanzon

Interior designer Leo Almeria welcomes us into his home with a delicious vegetarian meal. His breezy dining room, which opens out into his courtyard, is the perfect venue for some light conversation. “I have a very casual lifestyle,” he says. “I entertain occasionally—it’s usually just intimate dinners and very small gatherings.” The soft-spoken designer from Tacloban lives in a quiet, “work in progress” home in Quezon City that is a celebration of Asian and Filipino cultures.

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All-Filipino collection

Leo’s house is a three-story structure that is an homage to tropical architecture, with wide, plantation-style windows and doors that are thrown open to let in air and light. Though contemporary in style, you can find fine examples of Filipino indigenous textiles and artifacts throughout the home.

Collecting primitive Filipino furniture, fabrics and artwork has been a pastime for Leo for more than 30 years. He began acquiring pieces in 1978, when he began his studies at the Philippine School of Interior Design (PSID). He then worked under founder of PSID and pioneering interior designer Edith Oliveros, and under Russell Emmert, ASID, before forming his own design studio in the 1980s.

When asked what inspires his spaces, the soft-spoken designer shares: “Nature, culture, our Filipino heritage. I’m also inspired by festival, fiestas and events. And of course, I’m inspired by people—their way of life, their expressions, and personalities.” “Our culture is very unique—it’s one of a kind; Filipino style is a mixture of western and eastern, mostly Malay influences. I love the mix—and the way we interpret it.”

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A stylist’s touch

As seen in the living room and the other areas of the house, there are colorful vignettes of Filipino furniture that are subtly marked with Leo’s calm and elegant persona: a hat thrown over a painting, a few books positioned carefully over a foot stool, and even a simple anahaw fan gracefully placed atop a daybed.

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The home is filled with artfully styled vignettes, which is no surprise, as Leo has been working as a stylist in design magazines, sets, and other venues, for years. “It’s fixed up now, but I know that everything is still going to revolve, as well as evolve. Magri-rigodon pa rin ang furniture ko, just because I love to arrange and rearrange my home,” he says. “My house is my laboratory—a laboratory of my artistic expression.”

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