A Restaurant's Old Warehouse Becomes a Modern Art Gallery

The Pancake House's former commissary has been transformed into Silverlens Galleries, a major player in the contemporary art scene

Original Article: Mavreen Yapchiongco Photography: Michael Angelo Chua & Silverlens

Silverlens Galleries pioneered the warehouse gallery movement in Metro Manila after its inception in 2004, and continues in its adaptive reuse tradition by moving into another warehouse space that was formerly a commissary of The Pancake House.

“It was really a blessing because we were looking for a space for about six months, just going around Pasong Tamo Extension. And then when we looked in this area, we found this building and it was completely disused,” recounts Rachel Rillo, co-owner of Silverlens. Working with the same lighting design team as they did in the gallery’s former site, and with architect Anna Sy of CS Design Consultancy Inc., Rachel notes that moving into the new space was pretty much like a family affair.

A vast, light-filled space

The new Silverlens hosts viewing rooms, artist studios, offices, a library (photo below), and two exhibition spaces: a 150-sqm main gallery and a 65-sqm small gallery. Visitors approach a translucent mezzanine façade, ascend a staircase with lit from underneath the steps, and enter into vast, light-filled spaces. In conceptualizing the layout, Anna shares that she and her team wanted to “bring a sense of arrival,” and for people to recognize Silverlens even without a signage. This design approach best represents the unassuming gallery as successful and iconic.

Though the main space feels very expansive, photographer and co-owner Isa Lorenzo notes that it’s not as overwhelming as it seems. “If you keep coming back, you won’t notice it. You won’t notice the lights anymore—they’ll feel like sunlight.”

Isa also stresses the importance of proper storage for documentation. “We needed a lot more proper storage to conserve the work that we handle. And we needed to document heavily, which we did from the get-go. But those are the things I think people don’t realize about having a gallery. It’s the documentation that takes up a lot of time.” Artwork is archived and stored on rollout panels for easy viewing.

An artists-first setup

Rachel further adds that Silverlens is primarily for artists; it caters second to the buyers and collectors, and third, to the general art audience. She explains that maintaining good relationships with the artists and networking to the outside world are as important as the artwork themselves, if not more important. “I don’t know if you notice it, but curators, art people, artists—they’re all coming here in the Philippines. And I’d like to think that we are ready when the curtains are raised.”


Modular furniture on show

Silverlens recently held a unique exhibit called “Make It Yours,” which showcased USM Modular Furniture (above and below photos), a Swiss-based furniture brand. The century-old company started out in 1845 making ironworks and windows, and eventually branched out into furniture making in the 1960s.

In the “Make It Yours” Concept, USM’s panels and metal frames can be configured and reconfigured to create myriad furniture forms and sizes for the home and office.

Visit Silverlens Galleries at Lapanday Center, 2263 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City, open from Tuesdays to Fridays, 10am-7pm; Saturdays, 10am-6pm, mobile 0917-587-4011; for more info about USM Modular Furniture, email KKLC Lifestyle International at sales[at], tel. (02) 506-0630.

The original article ("Gallery News: Light & Space") first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Real Living Magazine. 

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