“Doesn’t everyone love to see new apartments all the time?” Juliana Ocampo asks—well, more like proclaims, actually. It’s her favorite thing to do in New York where she is based (she works in a creative agency under Paper Magazine), and it’s an activity she used to take pleasure in even as a child, accompanying her father Ricco, the known fashion retailer and tastemaker. Today, however, she is playing broker for this penthouse duplex apartment in One Lafayette Square in Salcedo Village, Makati, touring me around the 312- square meter space, pointing out a designer fixture here (the Serge Mouille ceiling lamp, for example), or a throw pillow (designed by her sister Betina Ocampo), or the fact that they pushed the ceiling up, moved the aircon units in, making the balconies more for lounging and looking at the view of the neighborhood’s old office buildings. “This is the best view in the evening,” Juliana says. “My mom if she had her way would make this into her herb garden.” Mom is, of course, the former model, herself a fashion creative, Tina Maristela Ocampo.
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If it isn’t clear yet, Casa Collective X is a family affair, the latest business venture from the famously enterprising and very creative Ocampos. “The X stands for X-perience. It’s a company that builds purposeful homes together with creative people and designers that bring the homes to life,” says Juliana. Meaning, dad Ricco scouts for apartments in the city, fixes what’s broken, reconfigures the spaces and nooks to make them fit the modern city dweller’s needs (i.e. lots of storage), and spruces them up, together with wife Tina, with that familiar Ocampo flair. For this initial apartment they’ve put on the market, it’s all about an approachable, vibrant chic: tropical references and splashes of colors, with furniture pieces from Casa Collective and bed spreads from Balay ni Atong. On one wall, framed prints of Neal Oshima’s pictures of traditional Filipina wear holds pride of place, on another a bright yellow painting by Jakkrit Chewapanya makes a splash on a green backdrop.
This penthouse used to be a very gloomy space, says Juliana, before the Ocampos whisked the unpleasant elements away: the heavy tint on the glass windows, for example. Once it was gone the whole place just opened up, the light came in, and the apartment became what it was probably meant to be in the first place: a pad for entertaining, with one room smoothly flowing into the next. You can host your pre-game drinks in the den where you can see the entire apartment through the glass window partition, or have sunset cocktails by the balcony before everyone ends up on the dining area where, today—just for effect?—some party glassware has been arranged ready to be filled.
I asked Ricco why he thought of the venture. “It’s a different take on the real estate business,” he says. “Because I’ve been going around and looking at homes. I thought we need to sell a home that has more meaning, not just a condo that’s bare, showrooms that all look alike. It’s like putting a soul into a home.” And with “correct prices,” he adds, “maybe even lower than the current market price.” And who is it for? Techie Hagedorn, one of the day’s guests, chimes in: “I know people who just want to move in and not bother with picking and moving stuff, not even picking tableware.” Ricco says he will be launching a new home each month, and he already has eight lined up.
“Everything here is for sale,” says the tireless, spunky, very young-looking Juliana who has probably toured quite a few visitors for the day, some of whom are her parents’ friends (I walk into Rajo Laurel just about to exit, and just before I leave, Tatler’s Anton San Diego arrives). It is only the apartment’s second day and she’s sold a Moroccan rug, and two Neal Oshima works. Some people visit and are just interested in buying the stuff on display, and that’s okay, too. But how much is the place going for, really? “P55 million,” the young lady says, without batting her pretty eyelashes, voice booming. “It comes with two parking spaces,” she adds, like a kid reading a fairy tale (she had a crash course in selling real estate before coming back home). Everything — the 40 Winks bed, the Pratesi sheets, the art — for P55 million? I ask. “P65 million,” Juliana says, “with everything including the toilet paper.”