In Memoriam: The eclectic eccentric Johnny Hubilla
In commemoration of interior designer Johnny Hubilla's untimely passing, we share the reminisces of son Carlos of his father, watching him work as he grows
March 25, 2020
Written by Carlos Hubilla
Photographed by Ron Mendoza
Editor’s Note: Johnny Hubilla passed away today, 25 March 2020, due to pneumonia. He was 79. One of his sons, Franco Hubilla, posted on Facebook around 12 noon of his passing, asking for prayers for his eternal rest. The Filipino architecture and design community expressed deepest condolences and prayers to the Hubilla family.
Johnny Hubilla was president of Hubilla Design Group, Architects and Interior Designers. His heroes were Lor Calma, John Saladino, and Scollard Maas (who Hubilla worked with on the Manila Hilton interiors), all of whom trained and practiced both architecture and interior design. Hubilla’s love for the performing arts in college eventually extended to designing theater sets for the CCP, for such productions as Mirinisa and West Side Story. He was born March 22, 1941, in Manila.
While he was studying Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Santo Tomas, Johnny Hubilla’s globe-trotting performances with the Bayanihan Dance Troupe exposed him to different cultures and enriched his design vocabulary, which would serve him well in a long and distinguished career in interior design.
He had his share of notable projects, from overseas Philippine pavilions and exhibitions (in Germany, USA, Canada, and Asia), corporate and institutional offices, hotels and restaurants, to large and small residences here and abroad. His professionalism, discerning design sense, and charm have made lifelong friends out of clients and colleagues.
I remember, even when I was a young boy, that my father was very passionate about promoting
Filipino furniture, handicrafts, accessories, and indigenous materials. He was eco-friendly before the term was fashionable.
Perhaps his most important and long-reaching legacy was his work for the passage of Republic Act 8534 and House Bill 1267, which have laid the groundwork for protecting licensed Filipino interior designers and their clients through professional standards of service and performance. He chaired the Board of Interior Design of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) for three terms, served as President to the Philippine Institute of Interior Designers (PIID) and the UST Alumni Atelier Association, and Vice Head for the National Committee on Architecture and Allied Arts for the
National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
His natural receptiveness to the unconventional is his strongest influence on my personal design
approach. He easily fuses seemingly disconnected themes and materials into his concepts and balances these with function and comfort. Our home was, and still is, accessorized with his small collection of Paris flea market finds, Italian, Spanish and Mexican souvenirs alongside indigenous antiques, shells, wood carvings, baskets, weaves, antiques, and furniture. Thankfully, these survived playtime with our action figures. We grew up browsing through issues of Interni, Domus, Abitare, and Architectural Digest along with our comic books. All this to a soundtrack of Classical, Pop, French and Broadway music playing in the background.
Now with fewer official responsibilities to his many organizations, he is more hands-on as
President of Hubilla Design Group. His projects include private residential and commercial interiors, as well as being the funny, fashionable and kind father he’s always been.