Beautifully photographed domestic settings (whose carefully placed furniture and décor simply await the animating force of human presence) in architecture and design books seem to hold the promise of a good life. They inspire us to imagine the possibilities of our own home, of how to transform private spaces into cocoons of comfort and luxury. Their complete, flawless look, however, signals their aspirational quality. By and large, they are snippets of fantasy, conjured by designers and stylists as if only to be looked at and not to be lived in.
How wonderful it is to step into such a tableau and experience it in three dimension where we can have an appreciation of the furniture’s scale, their colors, functions and juxtapositions. Such is something to be had in the showroom of the recently inaugurated furniture store Novamobili (an Italian portmanteau which means “new furniture”).
Connected to the flagship store of Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street (the best bookstore in the country, hands down) on the third floor, it is contiguous to the wing where architecture and design books are located. A flight of steps will lead you to various settings evoked from Novamobili pieces which are largely contemporary in execution and design. The 400 sq.m. showroom is the brand’s seventh in the Asia-Pacific region, following those located in Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Bangkok, Hanoi and Singapore.
Jaime Daez, managing director of Novamobili and founder of Fully Booked, got wind of the brand when its principals talked to him (among five others) regarding setting up in the Philippines. Various factors contributed to Daez being selected as the local partner, with being a devout lover of architecture and design chief among them. When he went to the furniture showcase in Milan to check out Novamobili’s booth last year, he fell in love with “the modernity and youthfulness of its designs.”
Italy is known, of course, as an international design capital; a handful of them are already operating shops in the country. What has attracted him to the brand is the fact that all the pieces are still designed, crafted and manufactured in Italy. Despite the provenance of the furniture, Daez is quick to assure that “our price level can compete with other foreign furniture brands which outsource most of their manufacturing process in Asia.”
Dario Reicheri, Asia Pacific director of the company, mentions that because everything is manufactured in Italy (and in some cases, entirely by hand), Novamobili gives their clientele a certain flexibility in customizing the pieces. Size, shape and configuration, among others, can be altered to fit into the requirement of the space and the taste of the homeowner. Among their well-known pieces are the Reef sofa, Sissi armchairs and tables, Wing walk-in closet, Plisse wardrobe, Tempo Giorno wall system and Prigeco table and Hilde chair. Novamobili is a one-stop shop in that you can realize you own dream space in just a single consultation.
With the growing real estate industry (and presumably awareness in interior design), Reicheri says that he has noticed a “radical change” with regard to the taste of the Filipinos when it comes to furniture. “Before, it used to be teak wood or rattan or bamboo, now I am seeing a lot of Italian brands in this area (Bonifacio High Street) and that makes me very happy,” he says. “It has changed, the way people look at things.”
The presence of international players in the furniture market, says Daez, has made the competition more intense. But he is confident that Novamobili can hold its own, especially with the unique values ingrained into the DNA of the brand. “I hope our customers realize that quality craftsmanship can be obtained at relatively affordable prices, something I feel which is not so prevalent in the market especially for furniture brands coming out of Italy,” he says.