Spirited architect and designer Angelo Gabriel Siochi shares the raw and unvarnished veracity of his vision
Even as a creative child, Angelo Gabriel Siochi always knew he would be an architect and designer. Since graduating from Mapua Institute of Technology, one of the Philippines top architecture and engineering schools, he had been juggling two of his passions in life – building and designing. In 2014, he formally established his own firm, becoming the chief architect and creative director of Manila’s fledging firm AGSiochi Architecture+Design (AGS).
Word of mouth about his ‘raw and classic’ and contemporary quickly spread and his small team has since dabbled in prime residential, corporate office and even commercial designs in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), and the CBDs of Makati, Ortigas and Alabang.
Your design philosophy is ‘form follows function’. What inspired you to follow this mantra?
My design philosophy is inspired by old New York architecture where some of the world’s first skyscrapers were built primarily for function, and yet refined to showcase their true form and purpose. Those structures remind me of the real reason why we, designers, build. The main focus of architecture is function and that differentiates an artist from an architect. Some artists may find something beautiful yet they may sacrifice practicality along the way. In my practice, I try to be true to the discipline of architecture, because whilst I am an ardent designer, I’m still a practicing architect. I admit that as a designer, I have my own artistic flairs. I practice design through a play of colours and accents, though in a controlled manner as defined by my architectural influences.
Tell us about your design process.
Listening is something that designers usually forget. I listen to what my clients want, and need. For me, it’s always best to start by getting to know the basic requirements of any client before getting caught up with the design. After that, I take time to study and research the property, using a different approach and solution as every project is different. Remember that the space we are designing for are the clients’ and not our own.
Which area in the house is your favourite place to design?
I like working on bedrooms. I want my clients to feel at their most comfortable in this private space. Bedroom designs should be relaxing, of course, and a hint of sophistication and sexiness will not harm at all. Of all the spaces at home, the bedroom should represent the personality of the client, because in this space a person acts most natural and uninhibited, and it is important that its design is congruent to who he or she is.
What inspires you?
Design is everywhere. I’m very observant – I find design even in its unexpected and hidden form. I get inspired whenever I travel or just by simply observing my environment. With a keen eye for details, believe me, anyone would not miss on any good design idea. For me, I find the best inspirations when I’m in another city or when I’m relaxed as it allows me to focus on creating new concepts. I also read a lot and find various sources of other designers that help me in coming up with my own concepts.
You recently completed two high-end residential interiors projects. Did your inspirations play a major role?
Both projects – a beautiful house on Samar Avenue in Quezon City, and an upscale condo in Serendra, BGC – feature ‘raw and classic’ designs. I favour refined and sophisticated designs so they always look put-together and high-end whilst keeping everything simple and real, so that people can maintain the ‘look’ everyday, so I stay away from a ‘model unit’-type of execution. In both locations I used natural materials combined with traditional as well as contemporary elements, as I like the incorporating old furniture pieces in modern and clean spaces.
So, business has been good?
Yes, and we’re extremely grateful. My team has completed about 20 projects, including condominium and recreational designs that we did [before I officially set up a formal office]. The current property boom in the Philippines has allowed us to work on various types of residential projects. At the moment we are finishing a house in Portofino in Alabang and designing a 2,500-sqm corporate office that will be the new home of one of the pioneer restaurant brands in the Philippines. A high-end condo space at One Shang Place in Ortigas is underway, plus another condo in Serendra.
If you were to collaborate with any legendary designer, dead or alive, who would it be?
Oh, I would definitely like to work on a design project with renowned Filipino interior designer, Budji Layug. I was privileged enough to have worked with and be mentored by him. He is very sensitive with space and has a keen sense of style coupled with good planning skills, which he uses to create excellent and world-class designs. I also want to meet Daniel Libeskind as his works project deep meanings beyond what one can see. The boldness of Libeskind’s design is something that I envision to develop myself as he does not get afraid to try new things, which may be unfamiliar for now but are definitely well thought-of.
Any advice for up-and-coming Filipino architects and designers?
It took me a while to gain momentum in my career. For young Filipino architects and designers like me, we need to take the time to study, observe and learn from various inspirations. We need to absorb every learning opportunity that we can which can help us become true masters of our craft. And with this, I believe we will have our break. I believe my design career is all but a result of my passion for my work. They say that you know what your real passion is when you think of that thing every time your mind wanders. Design is that to me. I think of design as often as I can and talk to people about it. That is my engagement.
Describe your design career in one word.