ONCOLOGIST JOSEPH Parra was just starting his career when he was living in a cramped studio. The bed took up most of the space, so he ended up taking his meals in bed.
Today, furniture makers are providing solutions for compact living. Multifunction furniture enables inhabitants in condominiums and studios to enjoy a versatile and clutter-free space.
The Yupangco family is reinventing their Domani design and furniture store into a lifestyle concept at the New World hotel arcade. Domani has evolved into twin-stores Z Point and Tutto Domani that respond to the needs of consumers.
Domani was established by José Ma. Yupangco after studying at the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy. The store pioneered in sleek and technologically adroit furniture pieces and accessories from Italy and forward-looking lighting fixtures by such designers as Ingo Maurer. It has been the exclusive distributor of Driade, one of the first Italian brands to launch a roster of stellar designers.
“I wanted to show good furniture in the works,” said Yupangco. “Italian furniture has a historical lineage and they’ve done a lot of research. They just don’t pop up design.”
However, the rise of big furniture stores carrying brand names brought stiff competition. Yupangco’s brother Anthony and his wife Gina, said they have always wanted to integrate dining in regular furniture.
“We’ve been in the business for 16 years and it was time to get out of our comfort zone,” said Anthony. “We had to think of something different from what the rest is offering.”
They tapped friends Derrick and Sherwin Yao, with their expertise in furniture systems, and Parra to help bring a new vitality to the lifestyle scene.
Z Point is derived from the Z coordinate in an architectural or computer rendering. The Z refers to the vertical height. Z Point offers transformable furniture by the popular Italian brand Clei.
For 10 years now, the Yupangcos have been selling the sofa beds. With the popularity of 20 sq m to 30 sq m condo units, they saw the demand for furniture systems that take up less space and easily change into another function.
A storage cabinet could open to a bed; wall beds could function as dining tables; a wall unit display shelf could swivel into pull-down bed with pull-out side tables. An office desk could be lifted and a hidden drawer exposes another bed and storage unit. With a special system, the sofa turns into a bunk bed with a ladder and safety railing.
“Fifteen years ago, we were not going vertical,” said Yupangco. “Now there’s a bent towards vertical living. This isn’t just a wall that comes down into a bed. It’s a complete system which gives more space because it can do many tasks. If you have a 20 sq m area, you are able to function as though you have a 40 sq m area.”
“Traditional pieces—bed, sofa and dining set take up 70 percent of the area,” Derrick said. “These items combine compact units and free up the space. With Clei, there are no hardware issues, and the workmanship is surprise and the structure of the system is more solid.”
The customers can specify the finishes—laminate, wood veneer or painted.
The store comes alive with the fresh aroma of coffee, custom-made for Tutto Domani, and the seductive display of the cakes.
Tutto Domani literally means “all for tomorrow” in Italian.
With his training in Ritz Escoffier in Paris and Mandarin Oriental Manila, Anthony Yupangco developed the food concept in partnership with New World Hotel. Although it is primarily a coffee-bar, it also sells home items, collectible toys and anything that is new in the lifestyle scene.
New World GM Farid Schoucair was excited by the novel ideas: The cakes are low in sugar but high in quality. The portions are small for the customer to savor every morsel.
“You won’t have to worry about your weight or the sugar,” says Anthony.
New World’s pastry chef John Magtibay adjusted the sweetness so that the dessert is not cloying and guilt consuming. He boasts of the flourless chocolate cake made from German couverture and the moist chocolate cake, made with sponge cake layered with chocolate mousse, smothered with chocolate crumbles and topped rosettes.
The chocolate butterscotch is a lethal combination of chocolate truffle and caramel cream on top. The bestsellers are the hazelnut chocolate cake coated with hazelnut butter cream and hazelnut biscuit and the Irish cream brownie, with its spiky liqueur taste contrasted by the crunch of the chocolate chips and nut topping.
For people who don’t like chocolate cakes, the sponge vanilla moist cake is a light yellow fluff. The carrot cake, filled with raisins and nuts, is wrapped in an ethereal custard cream frosting and coated with slivered almonds.
“Our cakes are genuine all the way,” Magtibay said. “When you try the other chocolate cakes, it’s just sponge and cream. When you taste it the middle layer tastes rancid because of the quality of the cream which has a short shelf life. We don’t compromise on our ingredients.”
The sandwiches are served on wooden boards accompanied with sidings in little glass bowls. Anthony said the fillings offer various subtle flavors that burst in the tongue. Tutto Domani’s signature is the lacy French crepe made with an authentic secret formula.