Riddled with holes evocative of cheese eyes, the walls of Vask’s Dining Room seem to be invoking Mickey Mouse.
Amused by customers’ comments on his design, London-trained architect Carlo Calma decided to sustain the touch of humor by channeling pop culture into Vask’s new lounge called Curve. Although the bar’s staples are champagne, oysters, caviar and duck loin, the main attractions are the ambience and quirky decor.
Calma explains that haute food in a formal setting can make people feel stiff. So his design is based on the premise of creating a contoured landscape using splines, flexible pieces of wood and metal used in creating curves. Although the layout is an open plan, playful swathes of curvatures become partitions to form intimate spaces for dining and conversation.
Even the ceiling is dropped with spline lines, which could be used for installations or as a projection screen.
Calma paid homage to Mary Poppins and her flying umbrella by surrounding the drop ceiling with white umbrellas with dimmable lights. They were sprayed with sealant and tested to make sure they are fire-proof.
He also invited 18 designers and friends with artistic talents to produce upholstery for the chairs. Inspired by the stark simplicity of canvas in a collection by Martin Margiela, Calma provided designers a neutral canvas and a plastic chair for them to play with.
Designer Rosanna Ocampo crocheted the front of her chair and embellished it with gold beadwork. Cary Santiago cut out black floral and leaf designs to contrast with the white background.
Calma himself sewed lace gloves and opera pearls and put a crutch beside the chair. The story is about a fashionista who comes to dinner after a mishap, he says.
Publisher Cheryl Tiu shod the legs of her chair in red shoes, while Rita Nazareno accentuated the upholstery with red leather embossed with a skull; she also covered the legs with woven material. Nikki Luna, meanwhile, installed neon lights that read “ELITIST.”
Nobody can sit on the chairs by Jojie Lloren and Gian Romano. Lloren put clusters of needles on the seat, while Romano dripped lots of wax on it. Ito Curata chucked the canvas for tulle and lace, while chef and food writer Stephanie Zubiri knotted the chair with strips of black and white.
Calma says the chairs could symbolize various personalities who came to Vask for dinner.
As a reference to Miley Cyrus’ bear backup dancer twerking at the VMA awards, Calma littered two acrylic tables with teddy bears.
“I’m fascinated with pop culture so that’s why I play around with these concepts,” he says.
His playful personality is revealed in his choice of personal artworks. A Bearbrick doll by artist Kaws is displayed on a pedestal, as if on a shrine.
Curve is also decorated with his elliptical mirror-chrome tables, industrial-style lighting fixtures by Lilianna Manahan and chairs suggesting a woman’s derriere by Casa Mania.
At the end of the 20-seater table is a silhouette of a man covering his eyes. Calma says in jest: “I’m peeping like a cartoon character. It’s part of an action-hero fantasy.”
The entire restaurant is imbued with Calma’s humor. Bought at the Manila Art Fair, the Darth Vader doll on the lobby pedestal is named Vask Vader. Many customers enjoy being photographed beside it.
A cutout of a mouse is displayed on one of the perforated walls. The Gallery, the room that offers 16-course meals in an open kitchen, has lighting fixtures that can be reassembled to create new shapes. On the deck, cutlery is the theme of the seesaw. The seaters are assembled like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle teamed with pink light boxes.
The Curve at Vask opens today with an exhibit at 7 p.m. Wear black or white with something glowing. Located at 11th Avenue corner 39th Street, Taguig City; tel. 2156163