The end of the drab concrete path on Harvard Road, Makati, is suddenly enlivened by an oasis. Bougainvillea cascade into an ivy-covered building.
Upon entering Kassa, a furniture store, one is overwhelmed by colors and prints.
As in an English home, replete with the eclectic clutter of period styles, the place feels like the inhabitants have been accumulating possessions over time and stuffing the space with favorite finds.
A Napoleon III chair contrasts with a mid-century two-seater. A gold-leafed Louis XVI armchair seems to float beside a Lucite table. A leopard-printed mid-century chair is paired with a simple white Oriental garden stool. A Louis XV chair with spirited floral prints harmonizes with a 1940s vanity table.
Kassa owner Karen Santos explains: “Eclecticism is about mixing different genres, materials and textures. To avoid chaotic settings, I keep the decor within a color scheme. It also helps to analyze the space.”
Her aesthetics channel two icons of 20th-century interior design—Mario Buatta and Billy Baldwin. The influences of Buatta are reflected in the vividly printed upholstery with a glazed finish, the exuberant use of pillows and the tasteful “clutter” of period pieces.
Santos also reflects the classicism and modernist style of Baldwin, who advocated the fusion of different cultures and the combination of old and new.
Like Baldwin who favored slipper chairs, Santos always includes them in their collection—all spruced up in bold-patterned prints.
The common thread in Kassa’s items is the ostentatious French furniture playing against the simplicity of 20th century Art Deco-inspired pieces. Another Kassa signature is updating antique furniture with modern finishes and nature-printed upholstery.
“People say, ‘I need a sofa to add in my living room.’ My pieces make strong accents,” says Santos.
Standing on a Louis XVI commode is a pair of Maison Barbieri lamps, given a new treatment with Edison light bulbs, a century-old design with filaments.
Knowledgeable collectors will appreciate the coffee tables from Maison Jansen, the world’s first international interior design company and French atelier famous for artisanal furniture and lighting.
The place marries together serious statement objects such as a Meiji coromandel screen, Florence Knoll chairs, Lucite butler’s table, Ching Dynasty blue and white jars, ivory carvings with fanciful accessories such as aluminum lizard sculptures and pineapple lamps. A shade with t’nalak prints modernizes a vintage lamp.
While the price tags for the period pieces are in the five-figure range, there are affordable objets d’art such as a P9,000 garden stool and gift items under P4,000—silver baptismal cups that can double as vases, napkin rings, blanc de chine (white Chinese porcelain) and decorative ceramic jars in coral or oxblood, a ceramic anahaw vase and ornamental boxes.
Eclecticism fascinates Santos because it provides a lively canvas for her whims. “Ultimately, it’s putting out the things that you love, and it all works out,” she says.
Kassa is at 3322 Harvard St., Pinagkaisahan, Makati City; tel. 7751-4413