When it comes to luxurious interiors, Cynthia and Ivy Almario have it down pat. Putting up Atelier Almario in the Philippines after a 15-year application of craft at Los Angeles, California, the sisters have gained high praise from clients and the design community for their exquisite taste and mastery of elegance in their works. Cynthia and Ivy shared their viewpoints on experiential luxury with colleagues during the 4th Kohler Design Forum last October 29, 2019.
What is truly priceless
Gathering visuals from their latest penthouse projects in the country, Cynthia and Ivy posed answers to the question: when it comes to interior design, what are the experiential realities that they needed to overcome to attain luxury? But to understand these realities, it is important to define the luxury that they aspire to achieve. From bespoke furniture, handcrafted pieces, and precious materials, luxury interiors intrinsically demand the fulfilment of desires. “Luxury has the potential to adapt dreams of being somewhere else or being someone else, and the acquisition of luxury objects have always filled these aspirations,” says Ivy.
But why are these treasured items crucial in creating a desired space? For Ivy, people’s attitudes towards homes are shifting. “People increasingly value time and space for enjoying special moments and extraordinary experiences,” she said. Every second is precious–priceless, even–and the residing space should be able to make every second special for the occupants. The value of time is also seen in the creation of these exquisite interiors through their production. “Luxury production represents an investment in time. This applies not only to the time spent in making an object, but also to the process of perfecting the skills needed,” Ivy adds.
Atelier Almario has always been dedicated to its vision and craft. The Almario sisters see to it that if a space calls for a certain piece, they will go to great lengths just to secure it. Cynthia said, “Making luxury is not concerned with practical solutions,” as she told listeners that in order to get the hefty wooden dinner table–which they sourced from Buddy Lagdameo–into the Edades penthouse in one piece, they had to use a dedicated gondola lift to raise it from the condominium’s side.
Aside from furnishings, they also configured the space to suit the occupants’ lifestyle and showcase their tastes. In order to do this, Cynthia and Ivy had to carefully map out furnishing placement, color palettes, and key design choices to bring a space to life–even if it means tearing down a wall or two.
From four bedrooms in the Edades penthouse, the floor was left with just two, using the extra open space for a dedicated entertainment area, giving ample room for large family engagements. The spaces were finished with wooden sliding doors, segmenting each area to create intimacy when needed. The wide hallways bare of precious ornaments give children the much-needed space to play. Treasured BenCab paintings from the family’s collection are hung at key spaces, such as by the office desk, living room, and the dining area.
Innovative, yet traditional
Every project gives Atelier Almario another opportunity to challenge norms and set new trends while staying true to their vision. “Mastery of craft and exceptional expertise are demonstrated by outstanding attention to detail and remarkable finishes. Such qualities are achieved by challenging and broadening established practices of craftsmanship and accepted categories of design,” expressed Ivy.
But at the root of it all, luxurious interiors–or any design, as a matter of fact–should find balance between unconventionality and preservation of heritage. That is the biggest reality Atelier Almario aspires to overcome with every project. “Luxury exists at the boundaries of daily routines, but relies on the notions of breaking out. Every resulting work commands high levels of innovation and respect for craft traditions,” Ivy adds.
Photographed by Ed Simon