Coming Full Circle

OH YES, IT'S JOHNNY! - Johnny Litton () - June 7, 2003 - 12:00am
The tides of women, like the tides of the sea, are tides of the moon." Nick Joaquin put it succinctly in "Summer Solstice." The moon is a female figure, she who is a bringer of light, worshipped in ancient rituals and the muse of myriad poets. Anyone who beholds her beauty is spellbound, enamored, awed.

Society figure and STAR columnist Mayenne Carmona admits she has a love affair with the moon, which is why she chose this high-floor unit for her home: It is a vantage point from which to view the brilliant orb.

"I wake up in the morning staring at the majesty of God’s creation, everything is a constant reminder of eternity. I can bask under the moonlight in meditation and revel at the dancing lights of the metropolis," she answers excitedly when asked why she chose this space.

The residence has more than a magnificent view of Makati, Rockwell, Quezon City, Pasig and Antipolo, enchanting Manila Bay and other places teeming with either calm or commotion. It is in itself a living space that speaks of Mayenne’s dreams, her history and her communion with matters divine.

Upon entrance, the foyer is simply stunning: A solitary Murano lady in contemplation, with her windblown hair, perched on a rock. This piece is on a lighted pedestal, with an etched mirror in the background. The living area is alive with cozy sofas and an appealing interplay of vibrant hues.

"I am a very visual person," she comments. "I am very much taken by the idea of the inter-relatedness of all visual effects. In this unit, the basic problem of color and proportions had to be dealt with."

A painting by Mayenne called "Explosion" was inspired by the 9-11 terrorist attacks. "I was there and it was so heartbreaking to see the chaos. I will never forget the explosion ... I etched it in my memory and translated it into art." This self-described "New Yorker at heart" received one-on-one painting lessons from renowned artist Gus Albor. "I think Gus will be very proud of me when he sees this."

A colorful carpet is accented by a circular floor pillow and a ball seat, which is from the Tato Collection of Baleri, which Domani carries in its New World Store. On top of the picture windows are two art pieces entitled "Meditation" and "Relaxation" by Marivic Rivera, a young artist and designer who put most of Mayenne’s ideas on her drawing board.

Inspired by the moon, sun and earth, this charismatic persona chose spheres as the motif for her home. "I chose the circle as a unifying theme because it is a perfect form, reflecting the shape of the earth, the unity of mankind, the cyclical nature of life," she explains. Thus, sharp angles were transformed into unique patterns of undulating curves, serpentine shapes and fluid lines, with the help of her contractor Herman Moral. Italian curvaceous lamps and kidney-shaped coffee tables, decorated doors, a round Budji Layug dining table, ottoman and love seat and an art deco chaise lounge keep this theme.

Mayenne went through a "no possessions phase" at one point but kept some artworks by master artists such as Manansala, Alcuaz, Zalameda and Orlina, all of whom she met in the mid Seventies. A dramatic mirror portrait of Mayenne by Orlina is displayed near the music corner, as well as other portraits: an ethereal Papou de Asis creation at the top of the stairs and a thoughtful Alcuaz handiwork inside her bedroom. A Zalameda of two women selling flowers also adorns a bedroom wall.

Having known Mayenne for many years, I have seen her many residences in the past and have seen the evolution of her design and artful taste. "I must have been a gypsy in my past life. I just love to try new places and decorate with new themes."

She has come full circle in her taste. Her first apartment was done in pastel hues of salmon and peach in an eclectic modern minimalism theme. Then she moved to an apartment, which she did in English countryside theme, with florals and stripes, chintz and Chippendale chairs; another place she decorated with a lot of Chinoiserie and blue and whites; and very recently, an austere Zen apartment in New York with black leather sofas and bare white walls. Now she is back to eclectic modern.

Why did she choose to come back to this theme? "I wanted a place that is more of today, but will never go out of style. My priority was a low-maintenance place that a modern apartment could achieve: a place that is easy to clean, always looking immaculate. I wanted everything to be unobtrusive so that people, flowers, and the few art pieces that I have would be very visible." The lady of the house also has an assortment of crystals. She holds her Orlinas, Baccarats, Muranos, Laliques and Swarovskis dear to her heart for their sentimental and aesthetic values. Besides, "they look like they’re floating and are a good source of energy."

The guestroom in Venetian gold shimmers with verve, accented by the headboard in Moire fabric from Leris Curtains and a bedcover from India inlaid with gold threads while a ballet painting by Ching Llanes dances on the wall.

Mayenne calls her favorite spot – her bedroom – "my sanctuary." The lightest shade of mint on its walls refreshes her at the end of a hectic day. The undulating curves of the vanity table, complete with Hollywood lights and sparkling petite crystals, sweep through the center of the room. Its glass-sculptured legs, designed by Marivic Rivera, and which also serve as lamps, bathe the room with romance. Her shoe cabinets are made with glass doors etched with hearts. A dreamy four-poster bed is awash in pink-embroidered silk covers. Her breakfast nook, with a traditional ice green chair and an antique round table she spotted in Baguio, allows her to sit down for her morning meal amid the mountain and sky views.

Given her extensive travels abroad, knowledge of design and penchant for research, it comes as no surprise that she created this penthouse with an international perspective in design. The glamour is tempered with informal touches to produce an unstudied elegance that does not take itself too seriously. Grace and curiosity, the root of good design, are present in her personality and seasoned with her wit and relaxed approach to life. The result is never less than dramatic.

"I look forward to coming home to a calm place, a refuge," she says.

She may be a society figure with an interesting lifestyle but here she is the pensive, spiritual and laid-back Mayenne who gazes at the moon contentedly each night.
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