PSID exhibit showcases  cross-cultural designs

The Philippine School of Interior Design-Ahlen Institute Inc. resumes its tradition of showcasing the works of its graduating students through a public exhibition three years after being interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Batch 2023’s Phusion exhibit opened last 2 October at the Greenfield Tower in Mandaluyong City and will run every day until the end of the month.

“The residential spaces you enter feature cross-cultural design,” the institute’s dean, Dr. Carol Peña, said in her message to
exhibition-goers. “Through this theme, PSID-Ahlen aims to showcase how culture influences interior design — and conversely, how interior design exemplifies culture — through the creative adaptation of various design elements and the reimagination of layout.”

At the press launch held last Thursday, DAILY TRIBUNE had a walk-through with exhibit guide Jade Vinco, a fourth-year student on the publicity and promotions committee. The exhibit, which serves as the final requirement for graduation, has 12 booths divided among 44 students with a maximum of five members per grouping.

For inspiration, each group was given a client, either solo or a couple, representing the mixed cultures they would be fusing to create a unique design for a pre-assigned house area. The students shouldered their expenses with some help from sponsors.

‘Per Ankh’ Antoinette Nicole Mercado, Joana Mannel Lipana, Katrin Miriel Araja, Janiz Karen Adlawan and Katrina Marie Balkin. | PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOCELYN VALLE FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE


Filipino x Egyptian: ‘Per Ankh’

Antoinette Nicole Mercado, Joana Mannel Lipana, Katrin Miriel Araja, Janiz Karen Adlawan and Katrina Marie Balkin chose to name their booth from the ancient Egyptian symbol per ankh, meaning “key of life.” But they came up with a very contemporary and homey take on the melding of cultures between a newlywed couple, one Filipino and the other Egyptian, as their clients.

Thus, the choices and placements of cultural references — (from the Philippines) Malakas at Maganda, the Bulul and (from Egypt) pyramid pharaoh — look like personal belongings rather than museum pieces. The writings in hieroglyphics (meaning “ikaw at ako, habangbuhay”) and Baybayin (meaning “ikaw ang tahanan”) also make complementary effect.

Another well-thought-out cultural fusion is exemplified by the pair of Egyptian interlocking chairs with cushions made of Maranao malong and a backrest in solihiya.

‘Buhay Ubuntu’ by Sofia Pascual, Cheska Mendoza, Sophia Chelsea Yling and Chloe Carpio.


Filipino x South African:
‘Buhay Ubuntu’

Sofia Pascual, Cheska Mendoza, Sophia Chelsea Yling and Chloe Carpio discovered the Philippines has many things in common with South Africa. The acacia tree, for instance, is where animals hide in safaris. That’s why they chose a dining set made in solid acacia wood and had it shaped round so their clients, a retired couple, could have a “personal dining experience with their guests.”

They also took note of the similarities of Bahay Kubo to the traditional Tswana and Sotho huts in South Africa. Thus, the thatched roofs are made from synthetic materials. The other materials, though, are natural as both cultures utilize what they can find from their surroundings.

‘FILLENIUM’ by Michelle Bagro, Rovina Manuel, Rosana Bandola and Romeo Gabriel Conge.


Filipino x American: ‘Fillenium’

Michelle Bagro, Rovina Manuel, Rosana Bandola and Romeo Gabriel Conge felt challenged designing a kitchen for their client, a Filipino-American in his 20s with a partner who’s a chef. The American influence is so prevalent that they had difficulties zeroing in on just one aspect. They finally decided to focus on the Hollywood Regency style born during the golden era of the world’s movie capital from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Thus, the bold colors, specifically blue, with metallic accents and, of course, the iconic black-and-white tiles. A giant pair of kutsara’s tinidor serves as a centerpiece for some Pinoy reference and perhaps humor.

‘Relajarse’ by Maui Severino.


Filipino-Nicaraguan: ‘Relajarse’

Maui Severino opted to singlehandedly conceptualize the booth she’s named after the Spanish word for “relax.” She has an actual client — her aunt, a nurse married to a Nicaraguan and currently based in Hawaii.

The bathroom she designed comes with a walk-in closet. It also has gold accents because “gold is Nicaragua’s main export.” Then there are Filipino elements, such as solihiya cabinets and closets, as well as ceilings made of abaca. Plus, the potted Monstera Deliciosa plants. It feels like being transported into Central or Latin America.


Filipino x Brazilian: ‘A Diversao’

Irish Monique Cube, Reichel Alessandra Baytan and Chey De Guzman confessed to breaking away from their usual muted colors to vibrant hues in designing the den for their client. They then chose Brazilian elements with an organic connection with nature and colors inspired by the Amazon.

From the Filipino side, they decided to use natural elements and materials. Thus, the padded walls and banig ceilings also serve as sound absorbers as their clients love music and to party.

Filipino-French: ‘L’Amour du Monde Entier’

Alma Marie Lacman, Glovelle Palileo, Kristin Dominique Ramos and Sophia Ejercito designed a decidedly fused Filipino and French design for their client, a supermodel now married to a French national. They mixed the airiness and spaciousness of the French design with the Filipino references. Check out the Luna painting and the Banaue Rice Terraces.


Filipino x Scandinavian: ‘Lagom’

Stephen Michael Chan, Maria Beatriz Guiterrez, Nicolette Lee and Carl Lois Mico cleverly and beautifully melded Filipino and Scandinavian elements to create an inviting and exciting dining area. There are mixed dining chairs, including a bench inspired by the bangko.

For drama, there’s an accent wall, where, at first glance, “medyo nakatago pa ang accessories,” and then the Filipino elements are revealed. Then there’s a daybed at the back because Filipinos love to have a siesta after a meal.


‘A Bachelor’s Tavern’

Regine Calupitan, Marielle Marzan, Izabela Galanto and Ailene Carino designed a British kitchen for their client, a Filipino-English rugby player. Thus, the choice of the Chesterfield furniture, which the aristocrats prefer because their clothes don’t get creased. The ambiance also resembles a pub but is elevated.


Filipino-Italian: ‘Semantika’

Jana Loise Cruz, Sophia Denise Ignacio and Jeyna Francesa Meria were inspired by their clients’ love story that started in the heart of Milan in designing a romantic and opulent bathroom. They chose accent pieces highlighting both cultures’ craftsmanship and went for an open layout. There’s a bathtub because Italians supposedly love long baths and a garden outside to invite nature in.

‘YAKKA’ by Kharen Urbano, Franchesca Eunice Co, Kristine Sempio and Kat Calloy.


Filipino-Australian: ‘Yakka’

Kharen Urbano, Franchesca Eunice Co, Kristine Sempio and Kat Calloy designed an office-cum-den that can be used for a studio condo unit. There’s a working station for the client who runs his own business. Then there’s a spot for relaxation with a hammock to boot! They also used wildlife and Outback inspirations and an original artwork echoing the Great Barrier Reef.

‘PearL of the Orient Meet Prosperity’ by Victor Flores, Kaila Laido, Sophia Serrano and Jade Vinco


Filipino-Japanese: ‘Peart of the Orient Meet Prosperity’

Victor Flores, Kaila Laido, Sophia Serrano and Jade Vinco decided on a round concept for the bedroom they designed for their client. They explained that there’s a round shape in both the Philippine and Japanese flags. The number eight is also considered in Japanese culture.

‘KANLUNGAN’ by Karen Cabalquinto, Isobel Merici Dator, Erica Leona Chua and Sheina Rose Gina


Filipino-Persian: ‘Kanlungan’

Karen Cabalquinto, Isobel Merici Dator, Erica Leona Chua and Sheina Rose Gina opted for a Filipino name to call their booth as it perfectly describes the coziness of the bedroom they designed for their client, who has two kids.

They said having a bedroom with two sections in Iran is customary, so they did exactly that. They also used Persian floral patterns and other elements, Filipino elements, such as mahogany wood and Bulacan pattern furniture.