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Spaces that work

By MONIQUE TODA, The Philippine STAR Published Mar 05, 2021 4:00 pm

I am one who believes that a pleasing environment plays a role in shaping our overall wellbeing. Inspiration can be found where things around us evoke happiness and appreciation. Some of us purposely surround ourselves with chosen objects that mean something.

Do you notice in company offices, no matter if it is just a cubicle, people put up photos and display knickknacks that add life to an otherwise drab space? It also provides clues into personalities, passions, organizing or work styles.

Let us now take a peek at the distinct worktables of these four creative individuals and find out what items they have chosen to be by their side in workplace sanctuaries, where their brilliant ideas are born.

Rajo Laurel: ‘My worktable is part order and part chaos.’

At the start of designer Rajo Laurel’s day, his work desk is quite tidy, but by midday the table gets messy, and at day’s end, becomes tidy again.

Rajo is constantly at his worktable and spends an average of 10 hours using it on an almost daily basis. A simple white table topped with clear, tempered glass, it is a blank canvas for the many colors and textures he works with.

  Eye candy: Rajo Laurel’s numerous colored pencils in recycled Diptyque candleholders share the space with interesting items.

There are a number of items required for his coveted designs, which includes colored pens, pencils and different types of paper. However, what is lovely is that he “needs” to have an orchid on his desk — a beautiful blossom that injects life into the collection of inanimate objects.

His plethora of perfectly sharpened colored pencils placed in recycled Diptyque candle glasses is eye candy. There are also several healing crystals that provide him with clarity and keep negative energy away. Rajo is one of the most positive and pleasant people I know, so this is no surprise.

What is lovely is that he ‘needs’ to have an orchid on his desk – a beautiful blossom that injects life into the collection of inanimate objects.

A makeshift folder contains a “to do” list. He loves the satisfaction derived from crossing out items on this list. It makes him feel that he has had a productive day. The desk itself is large and has multiple uses: for drawing, drafting patterns, cutting fabric, and meeting with clients.

Is there a work desk that inspires Rajo? “I recently saw the worktable of iconic accessory designer Elsa Peretti shot by Horst, and I truly was inspired by it, as there is something to be said about a true working desk.  Not just for the style, but the real essence of it all.  In a way, this is where the magic happens.”

J. Antonio Mendoza: ‘Eclectic, a clever and elegant mix of the old and new’

Interior designer J. Antonio Mendoza’s style is clearly depicted in a classic accessory that sits on top of his sharply designed modern desk. The classic piece and his favorite at the moment is a scaled replica of the Monumento de Magallanes, a casualty of the 1945 Battle for Manila.

The reason for it being favored has a story. Tonichi, as he is called by old friends like myself, drew up scaled plans and commissioned the Osmundo Antique Gallery to execute his design. This was to commemorate the Quincentenario, the 500 years of the arrival of Spain, which Mendoza believes gave us the greatest legacy ever: our Roman Catholic faith.

  A clever, eclectic mix of classic and modern is depicted on the Walter Knoll work desk of J. Antonio Mendoza.

Another item on his desk is a coffee-table book, namely The Architecture of Leandro V. Locsin, which shows his love for design. His most used item is a 0.7 black sign pen for writing and drawing out his fabulous ideas.

Mendoza narrates the evolution of his worktable. “My first desk was my architect father’s first desk, a large Parsons table perfect for laying out blueprints. My present desk, now even larger, has been around since I got it from the Abitare Internazionale showroom five years ago. It is the Walter Knoll Icon desk, a timeless classic that is and will continue to be a silent witness to my architectural  designs for a very long time.”

Rica Lopez de Jesus: ‘Pink is my favorite color because it signifies love.’

Businesswoman Rica Lopez de Jesus’ home office is truly an amazing space where she can be herself — her happy place. It is where everything she loves surrounds her: anything pink, items with hearts or heart-shaped, and all her charming trinkets.

Her work desk is a large wooden table with intricate carvings and painted — what else? — but pink. All around it are her favorite things. The cheerful atmosphere is conducive to making her more creative and productive and no one bothers her when she is there.

  Pink, pink and more pink at the workspace of Rica Lopez de Jesus

Although she is enveloped by all her knickknacks and numerous gewgaws, the most essential item on her desk is her computer. Rica says, “I control my life through my computer: my work, my family, my household, my blog, and just everything.”

There will be changes soon, though, with ongoing renovations in her home. Rica plans to relocate her workspace in her dressing room. It will be a nook, a cocoon, and her sanctuary. And, of course, it will be in all pink. 

Jaime Ponce de Leon: ‘Having an escritorio depicts a very ilustrado way of life.’

A typical escritorio from the 19th century is the work desk of Jaime Ponce de Leon, director of Leon Gallery. The piece is highly prized by antique collectors with its many compartments where one can put numerous things. Having an escritorio depicts a very “ilustrado” way of life, explained the art aficionado. It also goes well with contemporary interiors.

  A beautiful escritorio from the 19th century is the work desk of Jaime Ponce de Leon.

Items on this beautiful desk are art pieces such as impressive sculptures by Felix Pardo de Tavera, Jose Pardo, and a Michael Cacnio, which was a gift. There is also a photograph of his mom and a sprinkling of useful, practical work things such as nice-looking pens, thank-you notes, newspapers, and a diary.

His favorite piece, though, is the Celadon Fu dog, which he purchased at the prestigious Maastricht Fair in Maastricht, located in the Netherlands. As per Jaime, this cherished item has a very interesting provenance and history.

How to best describe Jaime Ponce de Leon’s awesome workspace? Art and history on a desk.

Banner and thumbnail caption: Where the magic happens: Rajo Laurel’s work desk is where he draws, drafts patterns, cuts fabric, and meets clients.