Frustrated minimalist Rajo Laurel believes that light is a key factor in creating a good workspace. Everything starts from it so he specially designed his studio to let the light pass through. For the second part of our new series, Style Bible pays the House of Laurel a visit to get a peek inside Rajo’s thinking space.
A piece by artist Maria Taniguchi rests above Rajo's desk
Obviously you like collecting art. Which piece in your atelier is your favorite and why?
My favorite piece of art is the Maria Taniguchi piece above my desk. I love the hand gestures and the most prominent hand is left handed and so am I. I’m a huge fan of Maria's work and it was quite difficult to find this piece. As fate would have it, the art work landed on my lap serendipitously.
From the paintings to the furniture, can you tell us how you find, source, and select your pieces? Do you hunt them down yourself?
I like to work in a clean white space with lots of light. My studio was designed specifically to allow light to pass through it. I keep all my chaos or "kalat" in my library but still in an orderly manner. Since my studio is practically where I spend most of my life, I made sure that I was really happy with everything that went into the room, which is actually very few and spare. I am a frustrated minimalist! [Laughs]
A concrete staircase with steps freely mounted to the wall leads up to Rajo's library
Rajo's library houses his collection of magazines and fashion books
Where is the best place to find good furniture?
My partner Nix (Alañon) is an interior and furniture designer so I guess I am lucky as I just ask him where to go. However, I do like the quest for the perfect piece which can go from high end Italian and European stores like Minotti or FurnItalia all the way to second hand flea market jaunts like the Bangkal area. I believe in mixing pieces when creating that personal look.
When we were walking into the back office from the store, we noticed that there was a dramatic change in the mood of the space. Tell us, what did you have in mind for that?
The front part of the building is home to our showroom and store, House of Laurel. This is where we experiment with the environment that changes with the new collection. Currently we have our De Chine collection with strong Eastern influences hence the look of the carmine walls and poppy red lanterns. The space changes dramatically each season. My studio space is like the "laboratory," devoid of colour and spare in its decoration because I wanted a clean and blank slate for me to think and create.
Large paintings give color to the blank walls of Rajo's studio
Do you still remember how your first atelier looked like?
My first atelier was in my friend’s basement in Pasay. I did not even have a proper desk. We would discuss the orders over a makeshift cutting table and I had one sewing machine, an iron and iron board and one electric fan. Very “Spartan” and humble.
Within this office, what's your next project?
We're about to finish our third building just down the street. Our family and team are growing and we really need more space.
Lastly, can you give us a few tips on how to design a work space? I always follow the light. From there, I work around it. Function above form, always. Treat yourself to a really good work chair. White walls always work.
The view from the library
A closer look of what's on Rajo's desk
Photos by Jasper Salceda and Zoe Laurente