Cover A haunting mix of colours in the Conjuring Dreams of Africa on the AC+632 window. This was Inspired by Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa, an autobiographical book published in 1937

Lifestyle designers Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre share their journey, travels and tips in their new book, The Art of Window, Display & Design

The art of window display is fast becoming a new art form. Glamorous displays dot the streets of New York, London and Milan, designed by artists to entertain and sell their merchandise. In the Philippines, an ingenious pair have mastered this art form and created some of the most memorable window displays seen in this part of the globe.

Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, the artists behind the luxury lifestyle store AC+632, share a passion for the visual and performing arts. This mutual love allows the pair to succeed as life and work partners. “It never seems like work when you are enjoying one another’s company and the things you do together,” Toledo says.

Read more: National Arts Month: Vibal Launches 'The Art of Window, Display, and Design' By Chito Vijandre And Ricky Toledo

Without a doubt, the couple complements each other’s style. “I am always astonished by how Chito’s mind works, how he always has another way of seeing things. Just when I thought a concept or window is done, he adds an unexpected twist.”

“First of all”, Vijandre responds, “I am a colourist. I believe in the persuasive power of colours and how they can influence your mood.” This is best seen in his favourite work Conjuring Dreams of Africa, which splendidly captured the “colour scheme and the romance of Isak Dinesen”. In his younger years, Vijandre once dreamt of becoming a painter.

Toledo’s favourite work so far is Once Upon A Dream. “The fantasy appealed to all ages [and] how the fairy tale king, Ludwig, could have such a wild imagination and create those outrageous castles,” he explains.

It seems Toledo will always have a heart for imaginative scenes. “As a child, I was always recreating scenes from plays like Romeo & Juliet and Ibong Adarna in the bedroom, improvising sets, props and costumes, assigning roles to playmates or even just acting out all the roles myself when I was alone,” he shares.

The pair wonderfully merge their interests and talents through the business they manage. They started a by-appointment boutique known as JUNO where they sold interesting finds from their travels but including creations of their own such as couture pillows and ostrich egg lamps. Apart from their own collection, the pair also added unique pieces from their friends, be it furniture, jewellery and other fashion accessories that one would not normally find in other stores.

Now, Toledo and Vijandre manage two lifestyle stores in Makati: AC+632 and Firma. With its lavish and luxurious window displays, these two one-of-a-kind stores in Greenbelt never fail to generate a second look or a complete stop from shoppers and passers-by. They vary their motif, taking their ideas from their common love for nature, architecture, theatre, film, travels and life. After countless precious window vignettes, the pair have decided to put them all together into a book for everyone to enjoy long after they have disappeared from display. Titled The Art of Window, Display & Design, the compilation also provides helpful design tips, travels, historical and cultural references.

The duo’s book is the latest addition to the Fifty Shades of Philippine Art series, officially launched by the Vibal Foundation alongside a virtual Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year Memorial Concert and Tertulia for its late founder and benefactor Esther A Vibal.

The book comprises more than 500 pages of photos depicting objets d’art, travel sights, artistic landmarks worldwide and exquisite window displays. “Through our windows, interiors and fashion, we take our readers on a journey—the different places, people and cultures that inspired them,” Toledo says.

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“They also get a glimpse of the creative process and the aesthetic principles involved [in designing a window display] and how these principles also apply to interior design and fashion, which comprise the last two chapters of the book,” Vijandre describes.

The book includes a peek into Toledo and Vijandre’s private abode that exhibits a blend of cross-cultural influences as well as preparing benefit fashion shows for the Philippine National Red Cross.

Through our windows, interiors and fashion, we take our readers on a journey— the different places, people and cultures that inspired them
Ricky Toledo

Flipping through the pages, the predilection of the two for maximalism comes to the fore. They successfully blend lighting, colour, space, fabrics, technology and cultures in their works, particularly in their window designs. But while, in their expertly stylish hands and eyes this eclectic mix translates to awesome visuals, maximalism can be difficult to style.

“Maximalism is an art form that you cannot abuse. It’s hard to pull off, you need proper editing in your mix of textures, colours and periods,” Vijandre explains. Toledo agrees and adds that “maximalism requires a lot of thought and experimentation to get right”.

And even so, Toledo and Vijandre enjoy the challenge. This has led them to design some of the most delightful window changes that we have come to love and miss. Though not anymore, with The Art of Window, Display & Design.

  • PhotographyClyde Gabriel courtesy of Red Charity Gala
  • StylingNoel Manapat
  • HairHenri Calayag
  • Make-UpHenri Calayag
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