The wondrous thing about the pandemic is that it has kept people at home and made them look closer at things they may have taken for granted. Such as: their home.
So now people are busy giving their homes a more loving look, as it is now the center of their universe. Home is where they also work nowadays, and where family gatherings, now more intimate, are held.
That is why Stenie Coyiuto-Tay is constantly on the move during this pandemic. People may buy food, clothing and accessories online. But when buying furniture, people have to see and feel and measure the actual furniture they need for their homes. Optimism is in the air as people are busy breathing new life into their homes this season. We will surely be home for Christmas.
Stenie is all things furniture. Actually, all things lifestyle, for she sees beyond just chairs. She is co-founder and managing director of Design Story, which has just added a new chapter — it recently opened a bigger showroom at The Alley at Karrivin Plaza in Makati, that gallery-style enclave that attracts people looking for well-curated designer furniture, light fixtures and home accessories. The place has evolved to become the art district of Metro Manila; home to some of the best restaurants; and a lifestyle shopping destination.
“We love the community here, and we’re happy we secured an additional space,” says Stenie. “Design Story is proud to be part of the global network of authorized dealers of world-renowned brands.”
Since 2014, Design Story has been one of the country’s best sources of designer furniture with collaborations with iconic designers. It has the latest from its flagship brands HAY, &Tradition, Stellar Works and Verpan.
The new showroom looks bright, charming and extremely chill. What greets visitors are the iconic Flowerpot pendant lights by Verner Panton, a warm, welcome change for people who’ve felt cooped up at home during the past year.
“The top floor is a treat for homemakers with an eye for designer pieces such as &Tradition’s Little Petra, Stellar Works’ Kite and HAY’s Palisade Chair. Or award-winning pieces from designers Viggo Boesen, Nendo and French brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.”
Design Story is one of the shops Stenie has opened together with her husband, Joseph Tay. “It all started with Casa Bella on Jupiter Street in Bel Air, which distributes European furniture but now has a wine bar and a flower shop, Fig & Vine, as well. Under the Casa Bella group, we also put up Taylor Living, which is more American-style furniture, and Modeco, which caters to a younger market.”
The new showroom is designed by interior designer Rossy Rojales of Hurray Design in close coordination with her business partner Dana Uy.
“I didn’t foresee that I would fall in love with the business of design,” states Stenie. “Growing up, I really dreamt of joining the finance sector or putting up my own business. My parents (Peter Coyiuto and Elena Tan Yu-Coyiuto) are very encouraging; they were strict with us but supported us kids by allowing us to follow our own passions.”
Stenie and Joseph are always partners in the furniture business, but Joseph has other businesses he focuses on. He is co-founder of Inventi (a software company specializing in property management and is now being used in more than 150 buildings) and Contractworld, which is connected to Casa Bella but is more about office furniture.
And, oh, they've opened another chapter: Three Squares Cafe + Bar.
“It has been a dream of mine with my partner Dana Uy to put up a design cafe adjacent to Design Story,” explains Stenie. “During pre-pandemic travels, our family loved how LA and European furniture stores were set up on a dine-and-shop experience. The food was inspired by my mom Elena — we wanted to put all our favorite comfort foods when we travel, such as Vongole, Roast Beef Sandwich and Beetroot Hummus. We were lucky to find a great chef who was trained in Hong Kong and Switzerland.”
Having been reared by parents who instill values such as hard work and encouraging creativity, Stenie will surely be even busier. Her design story continues.
The shop is located at Unit C-11, 2nd floor building C of The Alley at Karrivin Plaza, Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati.