Cover The living room, which features the 12-light Baccarat Mille Nuit chandelier, is a masterful study in symmetry

The new apartment of interior designer Jigs Adefuin and his partner, Oliver Ortiz, exudes a reeled-in, modern opulence, but also serves as a love letter to their early days together

In the years since they opened Adefuin Design Studio and their personally curated furniture atelier Sigvard Selections, Jigs Adefuin and Oliver Ortiz have built a reputation for creating exceptional spaces. Their designs make good use of every nook and cranny and give these a purpose beyond what the eye can see. It is a purposefulness that co-exists with their particular standards for contemporary design and, more importantly, great respect for the personal stories written on the walls of the homes they have worked on together.

When the time came for them to create their own new home in their dream location, an apartment overlooking Bonifacio Global City, these fundamental elements applied. “As the designer, I first need to know what the client wants,” Adefuin says. “In this case, even though he had already said that he would be happy with whatever I designed, Oliver was also my client.” Ortiz had only one request: that of hanging up a Baccarat Mille Nuits chandelier, which he had seen in one of Adefuin’s projects many years ago. “It’s a reminder of our early days, when I was working in a different field and quite unexposed to design, and when Jigs was just starting to make a name for himself,” says Ortiz. “The chandelier is symbolic of our dreams that have now come true.”

Knowing of its importance to his partner, Adefuin did more than just slip the Baccarat into his apartment. He let it influence absolutely everything by taking inspiration from the chandelier’s name, Mille Nuits, a reference to the collection of Middle Eastern folk tales known as the One Thousand and One Nights. “For me, this conjured up visuals of the colours of jewels, amazing architectural lines, and an overall richness of culture,” says Adefuin. “If you look at the chandelier, you’ll see that it is traditional in its use of fine crystal with curved arms, but also modern and geometric when it comes to the lines of its cups.” Adefuin created a wooden sunburst ceiling panel to serve as an anchor for the piece. It is from this warm alcove that every other design element of the apartment springs forth.

The living room, where the Baccarat hangs, is a masterful study in symmetry. Its two sides function like lungs, giving the impression of a properly breathing room. Directly below the chandelier is a Minotti coffee table that rests on a hand-tufted wool rug designed by Adefuin himself. At an equal distance from the centre are two identical sets of panelled, antiqued mirrors, taupe leather sofas, and soft-gold side tables also by Minotti. Meanwhile, a pair of graceful Platner Arm Chairs by Knoll mark each end of the low, oval table. “The mirrors are meant to give you a peek into the living room from any angle,” says Ortiz.

To one side of the living room, beside the romantic cityscape view, is a clever wall-suspended desk that Adefuin uses as his work table when at home. When not in use, it folds up and doubles as a niche that showcases works by two Filipino National Artists: a 1939 oil-on-canvas painting by Fernando Amorsolo and a worker sculpture by BenCab. The balcony beside this area serves as the couple’s mini garden, personally tended to by Adefuin. A pair of impressive life-sized metal sculptures by Arturo Luz look out over the city from this pocket of greenery.

An almost identical pocket garden made of cobra ferns, bird’s nest ferns, and cypress plants is built into the balcony of the master’s bedroom. Many other corners of the apartment are also softened with greens. Atop the black marble-top dining table, which can seat up to eight people on ergonomic Dora chairs by Giorgetti, is a centrepiece of tillandsia air plants which can last for several months, making it a more sustainable option. “We derive inspiration from nature and we wanted to incorporate that into our home,” says Adefuin.

A cornerstone feature of Adefuin’s designs is the use of colours, textures, and materials that come together to form a balanced whole. The living room and kitchen make use of both smooth and corrugated walnut, as well as tanguile wood. Flooring and accent walls in different areas are made of marble and brass. Beautiful silk wallpaper is smartly used to give a few of the rooms more depth. “Even when there is a whole variety of textures involved, a room can certainly still be cohesive and easy on the eyes.”

Another thing that definitely helps keep everything in place is the amount of storage space. Push almost any wall in the apartment and you’ll most likely find inner shelves or drawers. In the foyer, a panel to the right cleverly hides stacks of footwear, while the consul table in front of it contains a compact wine bar. In the kitchen and dining area, ingredients, snacks, coffee, cutlery, and other dining essentials are filed away in drawers contained within a Bulthaup copper-finished aluminium cabinet, which takes up an entire wall. Even the kitchen island hides a vertical power socket.

All of these impressive qualities set the stage for what is perhaps the most vital experience the couple’s new home can give: that of telling you their story, narrated through a formidable art collection. Adefuin explains, “All of these pieces are valuable to us because they commemorate personal milestones.” Adds Ortiz, “These are works that are aesthetically pleasing to us and that also represent the things we aspired to when we were just starting out.”

Like the chandelier, the painting above Adefuin’s work desk is a piece the couple encountered in the very early days of their studio. It was eventually endorsed to them by a client friend together with a dedication that they still read from time to time. “When challenges come our way and we feel down, all we have to do is look at this painting,” ponders Ortiz. “Many of Amorsolo’s paintings show us the simplicity of life, and this one reminds us of the importance of that simplicity and how life should not be complicated now.”

The hallway leading to the master bedroom is an astounding display of Filipino talent. One side is taken up by a brass crucifix by the sculptor Eduardo Castrillo, and a painting by the contemporary Filipino painter and visual artist Justin “Tiny” Nuyda, who has become a good friend to the couple and a frequent visitor to their home. (Another of his works, Golden Harvest, is in the master bedroom.) The other side features a series of “Mother and Child” artworks by acclaimed contemporary Filipino artists, that includes Hernando R Ocampo, Mauro “Malang” Santos, Emmanuel Garibay, and Araceli Dans. One exceptional piece is a father-and-son painting by Jose Blanco, which the couple acquired in remembrance of Ortiz’s father, who had just been diagnosed with cancer at the time.

Their innermost sanctuary, the master bedroom, is filled with pieces that have their own remarkable histories. On the accent wall behind their bed is a painting depicting the city of Cuenca in Spain by the national artist Federico Alcuaz, an early work of his that is rare because of its age, unique size, and the fact that it displays the artist’s old signature. “We acquired this from a collector friend of ours because of our love for the artist and because we were drawn to the subject of the artwork, which is a mountainous city in Spain,” says Ortiz. “In feng shui, mountains represent strength and integrity, and it is considered good luck when you position a mountain behind you because it gives you a feeling of security.” The 1994 Sabel by BenCab that they keep to the left of the bed is also a rare work of the artist that shows the subject, Sabel, face forward. Its provenance includes its display in 1994 at an exhibit in New York. Opposite this is a 1950 shaped glass sculpture, Bison, by the legendary Italian-born glass master Walter Furlan. “We simply love art,” says Ortiz. “When we find something that speaks to us, we create a place for it in our home.”

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Above Commissioned portraits of the couple’s pets adorn the walls of the guest bathroom

Concealed behind a sliding wall in the master bedroom is Ortiz’s study. An Onib Olmedo painting finished during Ortiz’s birth year rests on the wall. Similarly, Adefuin has an Olmedo painting finished during his own birth year which he keeps in his office. “We like to make believe that the universe and the artists behind these works conspired to create them for us.” On the desk is a frame that is perhaps one of the most significant in the home: a photograph of the couple on their eight-year anniversary back in 2006. “At the time, all I could afford to give him was a birthday cake...,” says Ortiz nostalgically. “It may have seemed like a low point and the future was so unclear then, but it was at that moment we decided to trust and believe that there were good things ahead of us.”

There are many reasons why the couple considers this to be their dream home. As its designer, Adefuin is definitely happy about the outcome: a functional space that can fit everything they need. At the same time, he is also clear about what ultimately gives it value. “It’s nice to be surrounded by the beautiful things we have acquired over the years,” he says, “but even more importantly, our home represents the hard work we put into building something truly lasting together.”

This article was originally published in Philippine Tatler Homes Vol 24. To bring you all the latest interior trends and practical advice for styling your home, subscribe to Philippine Tatler Homes through here.