Ong photographed at his Minotti store in BGC.
Style Style Profile

Meet Ferdie Ong, Manila’s purveyor of sleek Italian home style

On the occasion of the arrival of a new Minotti collection, the man behind Living Innovations, Ferdie Ong, talks to ANCX about homes past and future
The ANCX Staff | Nov 29 2018

Ferdie Ong knows the value of good furniture, and one must always opt for the best “if you really value your time,” he tells us over Monday lunch that begins with a minestrone and ends with a matcha flan. What the 40-year-old means to say is, when top quality can afford you years of comfort and durability, inferior brands only waste your time looking for missing parts and repair shops when the wear and tear of your accent chair starts to prematurely show. That’s why Ong insists on Minotti, the Italian brand he’s been distributing under his Living Innovations company for the past 16 years. Easily one of the top furniture names in the world, Minotti is known for a contemporary aesthetic characterized by clean lines and innovation. It is a look that never goes out of style no matter the design trends. Hence, one can place a sofa from a collection in the 70s in conversation with a Minotti table from today and they will totally jive.

Click on the image below for a slideshow of the new Minotti collection

Inspired by the classic teak duckboard used in the yachts, Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan developed Quadrado, a modular system consisting of suspended square platforms which furnish outdoor spaces with lightness and flexibility. 

Alexander is a seating system with different forms that can be combined with each other. Squared and curved elements can be used together in the same composition to create areas with an intimate enveloping atmosphere. 

Tape is designed by Japanese studio Nendo and features a couture detail, conceived as a piece of ribbon that holds the metal feet to the chair. 

Designed by Christophe Delcourt, the Granville is a seating system which focuses on the interplay of curves and of marked and light strokes. 

Ong knows his furniture. He grew up, after all, in a family whose businesses are connected to the building of homes: his parents have always been in the real estate and furniture business (they also supply the theater seats for Ayala cinemas and used to own a handicrafts store), and his sister is in kitchen furnishing. Traveling at an early age exposed him to fantastic interiors. Which explains why, in the early 2000s, already a graduate of manufacturing and management engineering, he had the balls to approach the brothers Renato and Roberto Minotti—then already the second-generation owners of the top-tier furniture brand with very expensive merchandise—and entice them to do business in Manila. Now Ong’s 350-sqm. showroom in 5th Avenue and 24th Street in BGC is considered one of Minotti’s top 5 stores in terms of look. A proud achievement for Ong who admittedly goes the extra mile to keep the showroom the pinnacle of sleek (he taps a stylist whose recommendations for home accessories Ong doesn’t mind spending money for). After all, his clientele includes the country's most affluent: discreet tycoons, politicians, the kind of people who can't bear the thought they don't own private planes (true story).

Which made us wonder: what does Ong's own personal space look like, and what kind of home did he grow up in?   

1) Your family has always been in the business of furniture. Was this the entry point to developing your eye for great interiors and good furniture? 

My dad brought in kitchens for projects before and he was the one who exposed us to the possibilities of what we can do. But ever since a young age I was already fascinated in products that had a good combination of aesthetics and function. Our parents would expose us to beautiful interiors through traveling.

@blackbreadandjam on Instagram

2) Describe for us the house you grew up in, and what is your most favorite room or piece of furniture growing up? 

It was an old house along Roxas Boulevard close to our handicraft store. It was a typical setup before wherein the office and store were right next to each other. It was a wooden house in the American style. I remember it had wooden floors and had arched doorways. The windows were in steel casements that you had to push out to get some fresh air. In high school, my parents started living in the penthouse of a building that they developed together with my uncles and aunts. In those days, Angelita Bondoc furniture with ornate wooden carvings were popular. Our flooring had white marble inlays of green and red. Our walls had floral prints with green padding. Our most favorite piece of furniture was the bed because its where all five kids would lie down while watching TV together. We looked like sardines. This was also our “made-up “ fortress. We would take turns turning it into an obstacle course.

3) Describe your dream personal space. 

A modern house with picturesque views of the garden. Big enough to accommodate a big kitchen and two living room areas. This should be big for when we’re entertaining, and also have all my brands mixed together.

The Pink Room, interior design project by Calvi Brambilla for Barovier & Toso in Murano, Venice. @calvibrambilla on Instagram

4) Which places have you visited recently that has inspiring interiors and architecture? 

I recently visited a newly opened Palazzo of Barovier & Toso in Venice. The space looks amazing because they renovated the old structure and then introduced a very modern shell. They used terrazzo veniziano which is a very traditional Venetian floor, but they also introduced red crystals inside. The furniture was classic, among them first edition pieces by Antonio Citterio and Ettore Sotssas.

(Right) Minotti Glover armchair @okrainteriors on Instagram and (Left) Minotti Jensen Bergère armchair @livingspacevancouver in Instagram

5) What Minotti pieces can we see in your house? And how did you use them? 

We have the Glover armchair and the Jensen armchair. The first is so comfortable you can sink into it. The latter is a chair that is very contemporary in design and could match any era. I also have the Minotti Williams sofa which was already a classic before it was made in olive green but we now have it in a sort of dove grey color. I personally like to move things around to always create a new space for people to enjoy a different view of the house.