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Old World charm, contemporary chic
BROADCASTER DAPHNE Oseńa-Paez has now ventured beyond bed linens with the recent launching of her furniture line teeming with Old World charm, but tempered with contemporary touches meant to appeal to a young market.

Simply dubbed as ?Daphne,? Paez?s initial furniture pieces consisting of carved and partly distressed chairs, sofas, four-poster beds, side tables and console tables handcrafted by some of the most skilled furniture makers from Pampanga are now available at Rustan?s home section in Makati.

?They all reflect my design sensibilities and my world, which revolves around my home,? she says. ?The collection exudes Old World charm, but done in a chic way.?

Wooden-framed and upholstered sofas, for instance, come with hints of carvings. But instead of using heavy tapestries or traditional toiles as upholstery, she picked neutral-colored and high-quality linens for their versatility.

Many pieces are also scaled to fit most condo units. For Christmas, Paez is offering chairs with carved, gold-painted curlicues as backrest. They come in a palette of dainty colors?from baby pink to Marian blue?and are perfect holiday presents.

?Each chair even comes with a box. Since they?re accent chairs, one piece is enough for a room,? she said.

Classical forms

Made of kiln-dried mahogany, the wood used in Paez?s furniture line is shaped and carved following classical forms. Most of the bigger pieces are painted in distressed ivory or gray and combined with other colors such as robin?s egg blue. Certain styles are accented with woven solihiya for that light, tropical touch.

?Some are a bit distressed, but not in a way that you could do yourself,? says Paez. ?A lot of people these days are distressing their stuff, but ours is really done in a proper and methodical way.?

Paez isn?t stopping people from buying the entire collection (expect more styles to arrive in the coming months, including an exclusive line for Rustan?s Shangri-La Plaza), but one or two pieces are enough to add some spark in a room.

Depending on the overall styling, homeowners could even come up with their own version of a Parisian apartment or Manhattan loft with Paez?s furniture as key pieces.

?I didn?t reinvent the wheel,? says Paez, who studied art history (focus on Greek and Roman arts) and urban planning at University of Toronto.

?I basically went back to old, classical forms and borrowed inspirations from the likes of Marie Antoinette.?

She?s confident there?s a market for her kind of furniture. They?re neither modular nor heavily carved pieces typical of Philippine and Chinese antiques. But because of the workmanship that went into each piece, she hopes to reintroduce Filipinos, especially those in their 20s and 30s, to the beauty of handcrafted pieces.

The development also positions Paez, host of ?Urban Zone,? a lifestyle and interior design show on ABS-CBN, as perhaps the country?s answer to Martha Stewart?minus the lawsuits. It also puts her closer to her goal of launching a series of lifestyle brands revolving around the home.

She?s now working with a designer to come up with pieces with a bit more gold on the finish, mainly for the Chinese-Filipino market. But the line?s forms will always be classic and free from lacquer and other heavy varnishes.

Design inputs

?I?m so excited,? she says. ?In fact, I?m overwhelmed that I?m now doing retail. My vision of producing a line of lifestyle products for the home is starting to happen.?

Unlike Paez?s foray into linens and later lamps (both lines are available at SM), where she initially lent her name before eventually providing manufacturers with her design inputs, her involvement in this latest venture goes beyond marketing. Paez has been very much involved in product development and design.

?I?m continuously sourcing for the right fabrics, but my main focus right now is still on the carpentry. We?re also open to doing custom-made pieces, which take 45 to 60 days to make,? she says.

Work on the furniture line began two years ago, just when Paez was launching her linen collection. Since she has no background in furniture or industrial design, she leaves the nitty-gritty to her partners? design team in Pampanga.

?I don?t own the factory, nor can I claim to be the furniture line?s designer,? she points out. ?But I?m proud to say I work with one of the country?s best furniture exporters, so the quality is of international standards.?

Paez is more of an editor who also provides an overall direction to the entire effort. In other words, she?s simply parlaying her exposure to decorative arts into coming up with something more functional.