Art House: Inside A Couple’s Homey Private Gallery

The pair created a space that exudes “industrial glamor” and houses the impressive collection of art pieces they’ve gathered throughout the years. 

This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s April 2023 Issue. 

The couple’s art-collecting journey started with the birth of their first son in October 2000, the time when they also relocated from Hong Kong to Singapore. “I remember clearly,” says the husband, “my wife gave away all my secondhand IKEA furniture which I’ve had since my business school days.” 

Ten years ago, the Filipino expat and his wife started to think seriously about a permanent home for their growing collection. A lot are displayed in their own residence, but more were left with galleries and relatives for safekeeping. “We even had pieces in our friends’ houses,” the wife says. 

READ ALSO: Art Fair Philippines 2023: Celebrating 10 Years Of Creativity and Innovation

Kawayan de Guia’s horse made from film negatives takes center stage in one section of the space. On the walls, (left to right) are paintings by Poklong Anading accompanied by the works of foreign artists, Thailand’s Mit Jai Inn, South African Mikhael Subotzky and Singapore’s Jane Lee.

“We had this aspiration that, hopefully one day, we would be able to build an art space,“ the husband adds, as he stood inside the private gallery that he created with his wife, “so we can share the experience of art.” “This is a culmination of that dream,” he says, beaming proudly. “Thankfully, my wife indulged me.” 

The opportunity to realize their dream came when the couple relocated back to Manila in 2017, “basically for our sons to establish roots before leaving to study abroad,“ according to the husband. Eventually, plans for the art space were put into motion through the lockdown, with the help of interior designer Raissa Cruz. 

Lit works by Yeo Kaa (on the wall) nearby an old work by Yasmin Sison circa 2000s (right). In the foreground, a pingpong table by Louie Cordero which was shown at Sonsbeek International Sculpture Exhibit in the Netherlands. “ If I remember correctly, three of the four works were acquired by museums and institutions, so we are fortunate to be able to get one of them,“ says the husband.

At 500 square meters or so, the space that caught their fancy rivals those occupied by Manila’s top galleries, transformed to reflect the couple’s industrial glam vision. Located on the second floor of a nondescript commercial building in Makati, the couple maintained a flexible, open layout. Which meant doing away with permanent partitions, and using mesh screens (which also provide additional surface for hanging) and curtains instead to section the different areas. 

The monochrome palette is both dramatic and current, with a deep charcoal shade painted over the open ceiling and main walls to complement the polished concrete finish applied to the floor. For the furnishings, the couple chose discreet colors and silhouettes, as seen in the marble and glass-top tables, as well as the minimalist club chairs and sofas, for example. 

The triptych is by Manuel Ocampo; the mahjong tiles (encased in container atop the table) and mahjong tables and chairs are by Negrense artist Josephine Turalba.

Moreover, the couple thoughtfully considered the needs of their guests, who are welcome to bring their kids to the gallery. Younger visitors can use artist Louie Cordero’s outrageous pingpong table or the Polycade Lux arcade machine mounted on the wall, as their parents play a game of mahjong with artist Josephine Turalba’s set while tippling cocktails from the jewel-toned bar. “This space is also for entertaining,” explains the husband. 

The paintings on the sliding panels are by Jonathan Ching, which open to reveal the wellstocked bar. The marble-top bar table was designed for working meetings as well, with hidden sockets for gadgets.

To create a sense of arrival, the couple installed a mural on a wall directly facing the elevator. “We collaborated with a street artist, Auggie Fontanilla,” the husband says. “From a superficial perspective, you will see representations of my wife, myself, and our three sons,“ he explains, pointing out the female figure, the tiger with a fiery tail, and the three cherubs.“But there’s a lot of embedded meanings, like women empowerment, death and rebirth, etc.”

(Left) The two portraits by a South African artist; the mural (right) is by Gene Paul Martin

Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia April 2023 magazine via or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader. 

Photos by Ed Simon of Kliq, Inc.

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