Modern Living


- Christian Espiritu -
Swank condominium units are mostly contemporary in design. Since they have limited areas, maximum attention and care is paid to the configuration so the desired room requirements are met. Their designers and planners avoid definitive architectural details so whoever buys or rents these units has the option to adapt a look or style when it is time to decorate.

I visited one of these condo units, belonging to a youthful couple, the other day. And indeed, condo units are like empty canvases, which homeowners gifted with artistic prowess can fill up with the right furniture and accessories, in the same manner artists splash colors on their canvases, creating masterpieces in the process.

Monette Ventura Mapa is one such homeowner who is mighty proud of her accomplishments like the three-bedroom unit that she decorated with panache. A former active player in the world of banking, her design sensibilities were honed while being involved in her husband Mike Mapa’s family business, namely Old Asia. As insiders in the design world now know, Old Asia was started by Monette’s mother-in-law Pachot Mapa as some kind of a hobby, which has grown into a multi-million enterprise today. The company has expanded so it now has several branches in Metro Manila.

Ensconced atop the upper floors of a tony condominium in Rockwell, the Mapa unit is generously bathed in light, allowing Monette – who we learned was born with a green thumb – to grow plants inside the aerie. She had her walls painted in eggshell so light bounces equally, affording the entire apartment well-distributed illumination all throughout the day.

As might be expected, a lot of the furniture and décor in Monette’s apartment are choice pieces that are on sale in Old Asia branches. A lot of people think that oriental pieces tend to be elaborate so that if one is not careful, having so much of them inside a room can result in a dowdy and cluttered interior. But as the accompanying photos show, Monette’s pieces are mostly linear and almost Zen-like, which she has managed to mix with local antique pieces – with such elan.

As we said in earlier articles, one’s home is the best laboratory for people dealing with items designed for the home. To experiment, they bring some items home.

One major artwork in the Mapa living room is a tryptich they stumbled upon in a gallery in New York signed by an artist named Kockta. The flora and foliage depicted in the painting, which suggest fall, serve as the starting point of Monette’s color story. She built around these, and the colors of the plaited abaca area carpet, the upholstery fabrics, and the throw and cushy pillows harmonize beautifully in the living and dining rooms.

The sleek dining table has a thick glass top supported by a massive wooden base. This is paired off with six identical Chinese horseshoe chairs fashioned out of polished mahogany. The set is set against a plain wall, which is jazzed up by a large Bobby Nuestro abstract painting hanging above a simple sideboard. Instead of the usual flowers for a centerpiece, Monette masterfully grouped her collection of Burmese lacquerware in vivid shades of saffron, producing a dramatic effect.

The master bedroom is an etude in simplicity. Several panels of Chinese wooden fretwork screens take the place of the traditional headboard. More rich wood enters the picture via the night tables flanking the matrimonial bed. Chinese lanterns accommodate reading before the couple sleeps.

Mike and Monette Mapa’s daughter, Teddy, at her tender age, has contributed a lot of visuals to the entire apartment. Her cozy bedroom brims with stuffed toys and other girlie stuff, while her paintings are proudly exhibited in several prominent places in the house. For a girl of 11, Teddy is amazing.

One common problem encountered by condominium dwellers is the lack of closet and storage spaces. Monette is somewhat lucky to be spared of this. Since Teddy is their only child, Monette is able to use the third bedroom partly as the extension of her dressing room. It is also here where she neatly stores her other things, including some of her wedding gifts which are still waiting for their turn to star in Monette’s decorating scheme.
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