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Former college basketball star brings his game to the furniture business

The ex-Ateneo cager has ‘outplayed’ other companies to bring a high-end Italian modular home line to the Philippines
/ 12:02 AM April 02, 2014

Varenna kitchens come with optional Subzero and Siemens appliances. PHOTOS BY ALANAH TORRALBA

GEC Chia, Poliform managing director. ALANAH TORRALBA

There’s Italian furniture, and then there’s Poliform. These high-end modular home pieces from the Italian company, known for its flexible configurations, have found their way to some of the country’s most exclusive addresses.

It’s easy to see why. The 60-year-old company prides itself in being the only one in the country that carries a full range of home furnishings—from bookshelves and entertainment systems to sofas, beds, kitchens, wardrobes and free-standing units.

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Each piece is measured with the latest scientific precision technology, and manufactured in Italy.

Among the four partners who brought the brand to the Philippines is former pro basketball player Gec Chia, its managing director.

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Like the brand he represents, the 30-something, 6-foot-2-tall Chia is stylish. He oversees the installation of each order, even flying to the Visayas and Mindanao.

Thorough

SOFAS are sectional and come in customized configurations, fabrics and colors.

“My attention to the little details has made my handling the brand so thorough and comprehensive. The customer satisfaction leads to a great appreciation of our work ethic and our dedication to ensuring that we provide the best service and product quality to our clientele,” Chia said.

After its low-key launch in October 2012, Poliform drew the attention of the high-end market which is familiar with the brand from travels abroad.

It took two years for Chia and his team—including his wife, Poliform marketing head Anna Go-Chia—to woo the brand to open in Manila.

Poliform Phils. is the first branch in Asia.

That Chia succeeded should not come as a surprise. As a student playing for the Ateneo de Manila University basketball team in the 2002 UAAP semifinals, Chia was popular for his buzzer-beating shot. It was his score, made in the last second of the game, which brought the Blue Eagles to the championship.

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Ego, the wardrobe everyone falls in love with

“Having played basketball almost all my life, I have learned to develop a strong sense of discipline—a habit I have incorporated in my everyday life. I am on top of customer service, product showcase, product study, product delivery and installation, and marketing,” he said.

Poliform’s winning edge is its creative partnership with high-profile designers—Marcel Wanders, Carlo Colombo, Vincent Van Duysen, Paolo Piva, Paola Navone, Studio Kairos, Riccardo Blumer, Matteo Borghi, Emmanuel Gallina, Rodrigo Torres, Matteo Nunziati, Jean Marie Massaud, Giuseppe Bavuso, Soo Chan, Flaviano Capriotti, Bruno Fattorni and Giuseppe Vigano.

Among its head-turners is the sleek and modern Varenna kitchen line. Varenna turns a kitchen into a conversational showpiece—the warm wood, cool stainless steel, elegant lacquered look, the various finishes, colors and configurations.

Minimal thickness

Carlo Colombo’s Twelve kitchen, characterized by the absence of handles, is designed with minimal thickness. Everything is only 12 mm thick, so space is maximized.

The most flexible kitchen is Paolo Piva’s Alea, with a clean and streamlined look that can be redesigned to occupy a vertical space. Alea is designed for family gatherings around the kitchen—the island and tabletop height are perfect for casual dining.

VARENNA kitchens are showpieces, designed to seamlessly blend with a house’s entire look.

“Houses today have an open design. You can see all the way to the kitchen and dining. So they want it to be perfect,” Chia said.

The kitchen is usually the first part of the house people consider when building or redesigning, he said. Filipinos, who love family gatherings and good food, spend hours socializing in the kitchen.

“German kitchens look like kitchens. Varenna kitchens look like showpieces. It blends with the whole house,” Go-Chia said.

Next to the kitchen is the wardrobe. A popular series, Ego, designed by Giuseppe Bavuso, is defined by a bronze frame and transparent, tempered glass. Going as high as four meters, the walk-in closet system has four openings: leaf, folding, sliding and coplanar.

It has pullout trays for trousers and skirts, trays for shirts, compartment for accessories and hanging chest drawers.

Design Awards 2011 Winner Concorde, a dining table designed by Emmanuel Gallina, highlights the warm hues of wood. It is in walnut or oak and other wood finishes, although some opt for marble.

Poliform believes in protecting the environment, taking care of its energy efficiency and using renewable sources. Even the brochures are produced with paper from certified forests.

“Our company is conscious of its social function, and adopted a policy that protects the environment for an authentic, sustainable expansion by using materials from Forest Stewardship Council-certified suppliers that have a low environmental impact,” Chia said.

The Poliform showroom is at 219 Nicanor Garcia St., Bel-Air 2, Makati; tel. 8042776, 8042778 and 0917-7101897. Visit www.poliform.it for more information.

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TAGS: Anna Go-Chia, Ateneo cager, basketball star, Bruno Fattorni, Carlo Colombo, Emmanuel Gallina, Flaviano Capriotti, Furniture, Gec Chia, Giuseppe Bavuso, Giuseppe Vigano, Home & Entertaining, Home furnishings, Italian company, Italian furniture, Jean-Marie Massaud, Marcel Wanders, Matteo Borghi, Matteo Nunziati, Mindanao, Paola Navone, Paolo Piva, Poliform, Riccardo Blumer, Rodrigo Torres, Soo Chan, Studio Kairos, Vincent Van Duysen, Visayas
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