Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Oz Gallery, Makati--Finally!

Oz Gallery is a unique home decor store in Makati that is long overdue.

Located in LRI Design Plaza on Nicanor Garcia Street (formerly Reposo St) in Bel Air, Makati--(where a lot of other furniture shops are located), Oz Gallery features one-of-a-kind pieces that are refinished or recreated by one of my favorite artistic couples, Sandro and Monica Olondriz.

This very low-key couple first started out doing wall finishes for some of the most beautiful homes in Manila. I say "low-key" because they never advertised themselves, and never even documented the work that they did!

It was only when flipping through my coffee table books, and Monica pointing out some jobs they did, that I realized that they've been at it for a very long time.

unique bar, designed by Sandro

I met Monica a few years ago after I told my cousin Jessica that I couldn't find a chandelier my heart desired.  "Why don't you just ask Monica to make you one?" she said.

"A chandelier? Someone can make a chandelier for me?" I was disbelieving.

"Hellooo, where do you think I got that--she made that for me!" she replied, pointing up at hers.

 old-fashioned chandelier with crystal beading

I lost no time calling her and a couple of months later, I had my own lovely chandelier being installed in my living room. 

Then I saw that they also did furniture refinishing, and walls, and all that other creative stuff.

I asked Monica to refinish an antique doctor's glass cabinet that we got from B's lolo's old house in Cabuyao.

They are so creative they can think of design solutions too, like this wall unit in Joanna's apartment.

When Monica told me they were finally setting up shop in LRI, I was so excited for them. Finally, more people can see how talented they are. (And it's right across Alliance Francaise--I could visit her right after French class!)

The nice thing about this couple is that they as easy to work with as they are talented. Sometimes I just look at my old furniture and imagine what magic Monica and Sandro can do with them.  I don't really need anything... I just like the idea of  doing something creative with them. 

Their design sensibilities are similar to mine and we appreciate the appeal of reworked vintage pieces. I tell them my thoughts on how something can be reworked,  they will get excited and generate even more ideas. The passion they have for the creative process is apparent in the detailing of each piece.

There is nothing commercial in this store--everything is of artisanal quality--with of course, Sandro and Monica as the artists!

The only downside of the shop is that the pieces are one-of-a-kind. You might drop by and see something you love--only to find out it has already been sold and just waiting to be picked up. So it's a downside if you're the latecomer but obviously an upside if you're the one who got first dibs!

One just has to keep dropping by to see what's new.

They have featured a few one-of-a kind pieces of other talented friends too, like the chandeliers of Sharmila Hiranand.  Monica says they will continue to do this.

Maybe when I finally get through my own bodega, I'll be able to rework my pieces and show them off also in Oz Gallery.

The problem with that is when I rework a piece (many times with their help) I want to keep it for myself even if I don't know where to put it.

If only Sandro and Monica documented, from the start,  all the projects they did and all the pieces they reworked, they could've published a beautiful coffee table book of their own.

Or why not a blog to document the process with some before and after photos?

Maybe in a couple of years I'll have a post that says, "Here is a coffee table book that is long overdue"--or  maybe in a few months, 'Here is a blog that is long overdue."

Much as I enjoy the exclusivity of their pieces and services, talent and passion like this must be shared with a greater audience. 

I can say this generously and confidently because I don't have space for anything more in my home. 

Monica et moi 

Oz Gallery
3rd Level, LRI Design Plaza
Nicanor Garcia Street
Facebook: Oz Gallery

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Les Deserteurs and Restaurant Will

I checked my Facebook page and under a friend's post, saw a link to an article of new Paris restaurants in NY Magazine. My FB friend's update said "Wish I was in Paris right now!"  

What luck for us, we were on our last day in Paris!

It would be sad to have a mediocre meal in Paris, a city of thousands of restaurants, when one can easily have an outstanding one by keeping an ear to the ground.  How timely this article was then--it was just published that a few days before.

I made a couple of phone calls and luckily was able to squeeze in two restaurants on our last day--one for lunch and another for dinner.

We walked over to Les Deserteurs in the 11th arrondissement for lunch. It was very close to where we were staying.

The place was small, with only about 24 seats. There were no tourists in the house, mostly locals, but there was also a photographer from a local weekly magazine covering the lunch crowd.

Les Deserteurs just has one fixed menu that is served to everyone. It was also reasonably priced.

First course was an in-season white asparagus.

I know we shouldn't have but we couldn't stop eating the sourdough bread. It was just too good.

Main course was a serving of lamb in a light but very flavourful sauce. I love how French servings are not overwhelming, being just right for one person.

The dessert of chocolate mousse with salted caramel ice cream on a bed of cookie crumbs and toasted sesame seeds was exquisite.

Later that evening, Bea met up with us at Will, in the 12th arrondissement. Will was just a couple of blocks away from Les Deserteurs--it's the same general area.

At Restaurant Will, we had a choice of entrees, mains and desserts, and it was also reasonably priced.

Since we were three, we could order more and try each other's dishes.

We each received a small serving of pumpkin soup as a palate teaser.

Between us we had squid ink "risotto" which as actually made of chopped radish.

The "cabillaud", a white fish...

And  the beef.

For dessert, the "eton mess"

And the chocolate dessert--which was very similar to the dessert we had at lunch but with a different presentation.

Chocolate, caramel, sesame seeds...

We enjoyed all our dishes and were happy to be able to try these new restaurants which are considered modern French. The food is straightforward, clean and delicately flavoured--no heavy hand of sauces to smother out the freshness of the ingredients.

 We stayed on until everyone left and were able to chat with Will himself.

Apparently, he also worked in a restaurant where the chef/owner from LesDeserteurs also worked --not together though, but one after the other.  That probably explains the similarity of their "all-chocolate" dessert.

with Will

Will had not heard about the NYMag article which had just recently been published so I got email address and sent it to him.   There are tons of restaurants that will be considered "new" to those of us who don't live in Paris, but if you want to check out what new young French chefs are up to, in their own new restaurants that are beginning to get rave reviews, these two are a good place to start.

Bon appétit!

Les Deserteurs
46 rue Trousseau, 11th Arrondissement, Paris; Tel. (33) 01-48-06-95-85
Metro: Ledru Rollin, Faidherbe – Chaligny, or Charonne.
Closed Sunday and Monday. 
Prix-fixe lunch menu 28 Euros, average dinner 50 Euros.

75 rue Crozatier, 12th Arrondissement, Tel. 01-53-17-02-44. 
Metro: Ledru-Rollin or Faidherbe-Chaligny. 
Closed Sunday and Monday dinner.  
Lunch menu 19 Euros, prix-fixe dinner menu 45 Euros, average a la carte 45 Euros.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Modern Apartment in the Pigalle

I was intrigued when I saw this Paris apartment on Airbnb. It looked modern and stylish, and without any residential clutter. That is was in the 18th arrondissement--the Pigalle area--considered the red-light district of Paris was a bit of a concern.

But as my intention is to discover as many arrondissements as possible, this apartment looked enticing enough.

How exciting it was then to walk into the apartment which looked exactly as it did in the pictures, and later I discovered, functioned even better.

The space was only about 55m2, and it had everything you would need for a long stay.  Ysabelle, the owner/host was responsive from the very beginning, which only gave me more confidence that I did the correct thing.

The apartment is designed by Tristan Auer. After checking his website, it intrigued me that a vacation rental would be designed by someone of his caliber. Then I saw that Ysabelle's last name was also Auer.  They must own this apartment.

Floor treatment was like something like a rubberised concrete. Comfortable to walk on.

We didn't meet Ysabelle--as we were always in and out of the apartment--but she was just a text away and we were well attended to.

Not only are the interiors striking, I was more impressed that everything in the apartment is well thought out and functional. There is a full-sized washing machine, a comfortable kitchen, big closets, lots of storage.

The open storage shelves of the kitchen doubles as strong design element.

We  didn't have any time to cook on this short stay, but B did make breakfast and I used the Nespresso a lot.

Light bulbs hidden in a slatted drop ceiling creates an imaginative light detail in the evening.

So impressed was I by the apartment's layout that I even sketched it out to see how it was achieved. If I copy this lay-out, do you think I need to pay Tristan Auer any royalty?

Displayed around the apartment like artwork were invitations to gallery events. 

And in the bathroom, the blowdryer was kept in this YSL shoebox. I appreciated the low-key but tasteful re-use of things that are usually just thrown away.

Like most apartments in Paris, the toilet is a separate room from the shower.

Unfortunately we weren't able to really explore the neighbourhood because our scheduled events were mostly in the 9th which was a brisk 20-minute walk from the apartment. 

Montmarte, being in the "backyard" would've been really nice without the crowds. Too bad our schedule just didn't allow it! So much for trying got explore a new arrondissement...

Had I known we had to attend to events in the 9th, I might've booked an apartment there instead, but then I would miss this gem of an apartment.

 Curtain on the front door provides privacy from other apartment doors. 
It also keeps the entrance dark and dramatic.

This area is not as pretty as being in the lower-numbered arrondissements, 5, 6 and 7 in particular, but it is real-life Paris.  

On the street where we lived: Rue Andre Antoine

My feelings about a particular arrondissement is largely dependent on the apartment we have, so this was a very good experience. 

As long as there is a metro nearby, I'm happy.  This was another AirBnb success.

I'm looking forward to my next Paris apartment adventure!


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