Consoles are accented with magical semiprecious stones, chairs are brightly blotted in spring colors, and pillowcases glisten with fastidious beadwork.
Philux is pushing the envelope. For the furniture maker known for elegant simplicity born out of Swiss precision and Filipino artisanship, Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez, vice president and COO, and her sister Jessica Kienle-Maxwell, VP and head designer, join forces with accessories designer Bea Valdes and her own sister Marga Valdes-Trinidad, head of sales, marketing and business development, for Valdes’ eponymous brand.
The collaboration, titled “Hearth,” is a limited-edition collection of Philux’s signature furniture featuring Valdes’ painstaking handiwork and playful painting techniques. They are on display at the Philux showroom at Shangri-La at the Fort.
The once minimally embellished and flat surfaces of furniture gain visual depth and vibrance with a contrast of rich and organic textures and colors. The elegant simplicity of the designs is set off by expressive symmetrical blots of color, tiny beads and tactile materials from nature.
“Our technique started out in bags, and later, clothes. Now it’s being translated into furniture,” Valdes says.
The Valdes sisters complement the clean and linear, solid walnut Philux console with the nubby feel of grass cloth and labradorite on a brass handle. This crystal usually adorns the Bea Valdes evening purse. The crystal is special for its mystical properties.
“It’s lucky for us,” she says. “The labradorite has fire inside. The colors change, depending on the material you put around it.”
The Philux team favors Valdes’ take on the classic sideboard with veneer panels. From a distance, the cabinets look like whimsical splotches of paint moving around the canvas-backed cabinet frame. Up close, viewers will appreciate the rows of pristine beadwork that add dimension to the colors.
The Fulton dining chair, a curvy silhouette with open metal frame supported by a slender backrest, pops up with voluminous clouds of white, dove gray, rose, teal and black.
“The same chair is treated in different ways, so you end up with an Andy Warhol effect in different colors,” Maxwell says.
A work of art, the bar cabinet is covered with crocodile skin and meticulously sewn with chains and beads. Unlike other designers who use the broader part of the skin, Valdes applied strips of imported crocodile skin to play up on textures.
“We like flawed surfaces and objects,” Trinidad says. “They may not be as popular, but you can translate them into something that is just as desirable.”
The classic ash wood lounge chair with an ottoman gets updated with denim patchwork with reversed fabrics and frayed edges. Excess denim is made into soccer ball throw pillows.
Valdes’ signature is the painstaking workmanship of beads, trim and chains of complex patterns on throw pillows. “Bea’s forte is to see the different types of materials and put them together in a way that works,” Maxwell says.
In the end, the interesting part of the process is the mutual respect that the two sets of sisters have for each other. ” We kept things fluid. It’s nice to collaborate with artists. You don’t know what to expect,” Gonzalez says.
In the photo shoot, the sisters are a study in contrast. Fashion magazines have called them stylish. Their work reflects their style. Gonzalez and Maxwell wear unembellished but exquisitely tailored clothes that show off the quality fabric.
Valdes and Trinidad add luxe to casual materials such as denim and linen with their signature painting finishes in unusual color mixes and detailed handwork.
The sisters talk about their style trademarks.
Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez’ home style expression: “A signature scent, lots of greens and Philux accent pieces, naturally. The design of the Stockholm bed and armchairs is a modern take on a retro design.”
Recent find: “A best-selling guide on organizing, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’”
Suggested investment piece for the home: “The bed, because you spend a third of your life in it. Mine is the Stockholm bed with a nostalgic, curved mid-century frame done in solihiya (open mat weaving).”
Jessica Kienle-Maxwell’s home style expression: “The floor-to-ceiling, black-framed French window sliding doors in our den, our Philux “Luna” coffee table with brass legs and a silverwave stone top. The black-and-white cowhide “Juana” chair is a lounge chair with an ottoman, which has been placed by the window. It has become my favorite area in the house where I read, do email and hang out with the baby.”
Last thing I bought and liked: “Symthson Crossbody Bag. I use it almost everyday.”
Suggested investment for the home: “A good dining table if you like hosting. Our table at home has a solid walnut top. There is no need to put anything on top because the grain is beautiful.”
Bea Valdes’ home style expression: “A mix of artworks on the wall—my kids’ paintings beside emerging and more established artists.”
Last thing I bought and liked: “Sandalwood oil.”
If my house were on fire and everyone is accounted for, I would save: “Family photos.”
Suggested investment for the home: “Art. I have a connection to it. I have collected pieces over the years that have grown in value. They were made by artists who have become more established.”
Marga Valdes-Trinidad’s home style expression: “A baby blue-and-white mini Murano glass chandelier that I inherited from my mother.”
Recent find: “Pure Essentiel is a purifying air spray with a blend of 41 organic essential oils that combat indoor allergens and pollutants. It’s 100-percent pure and natural. The kids love it.”
Suggested investment piece for the home: “A good bed with a nice frame. That’s where you recover after what happened to you throughout the day. It’s a sanctuary. Sleep and wellness are important. Our bed was given by my mom. The wooden headboard has two cantilevered side tables. It reminds me of the beds of my grandmother (the late jeweler Fe Panlilio) which had the same style. It was so massive, the grandkids could fit into it.
Our bed fits us and the kids…” –CONTRIBUTED