The Store at Soho House Berlin

There are things that draw me in, and things that turn me away. For example, I’m attracted to creativity, but intimidated by luxury. This was on my mind when after-work wanderings led me into The Store at Soho House Berlin, a concept store fusing design, food, furnishings, clothing, beauty, books and music in a stylish luxury setting.

As I browsed The Store, part of me waited for the point when an exorbitant price tag or a snooty sales associate would eventually make me want me to step out. As it turned out, that moment never came.

The Store Soho House Berlin

I was both secretly delighted and suitably impressed. How can a space that is so beautifully sleek, so achingly cool, also feel so inviting?

The Store Soho House Berlin colorful cafe seating area

The Urban Jungle Bloggers will probably tell you: it’s the plants.

The Store Soho House Berlin big plant

At The Store, maximalist explosions of green warm up the space, giving it an eclectic and casual vibe.

The Store Soho House Berlin green cinema chairs

This makes it feel less like an expensive store where you’re not allowed to touch anything, and more like a very cool (and wealthy) friend’s home where you can just hang out and chat over coffee.

The Store Soho House Berlin coffee and cactus

The Store Soho House Berlin rattan swing chair

The Store Soho House Berlin copper bureau and big plants

The plants at The Store are huge. They really make a statement! Something about them calls to my tropical soul—the same part of me that insists on keeping a big fig tree by my desk in cold and gray Amsterdam.

The Store Soho House Berlin giant plants

I would have loved to stop by the funky nail bar upstairs for some pampering, but I was working then.

The Store Soho House Berlin nail bar

From the nail bar, you get an overview of the whole store. Looks rather different when you don’t see all the big, beautiful plants, doesn’t it?

The Store Soho House Berlin overall layout

I may not make my living in a visual or retail industry, but creative spaces like The Store inspire me. Being able to bring together different objects, moods, influences and ideas so that they live comfortably together, is something I’m always drawn to and admire.

I love discovering places like this. Don’t you?

The Store
Soho House Berlin
Torstrasse 1
thestore-berlin.com

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Ugu Bigyan Potter’s Garden

Visiting Patis Tito Garden Cafe whetted my appetite for more Filipino creativity and tropical greenery. When Patis herself recommended that we visit Ugu Bigyan Potter’s Garden in Tiaong, Quezon, just a short drive from her cafe, I found it hard to resist.

I’ve been hearing good things about potter and artist Augusto ‘Ugu’ Bigyan’s pottery studio and restaurant for years, but it had always seemed too far to visit. Now that we were practically in the neighborhood, we simply had to go.

We were welcomed by the wide, welcoming embrace of this majestic mango tree—the Valhalla of aerial plants, it seems, where the best and bravest plants go after fighting the good fight on earth.

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden mango tree

Situated on the same expansive property as his own home, Ugu Bigyan’s “potter’s garden” is dotted with lush tropical plants and pavilions featuring elements of traditional Filipino homes such as thatched nipa roofs, antique furnishings, and more.

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden cogon pavilion

I would have loved to sit down at one of these tables for Ugu’s famously delicious (and surprisingly affordable) meals, made with local ingredients and served family style. But it was the end of the day and we hadn’t booked anything in advance. The food photos at Sushi Bytes and Out of Town Blog are absolutely torturing me with what I missed!

I also would have wanted to relax on one of antique butaka chairs—a Spanish colonial easy chair, with long arm rests and curved rattan back—with a cup of barako coffee. Oh, well, next time.

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden seating area with butaka chair

Instead of stuffing our faces (which we’d already done at Patis Tito anyway), we explored the garden, which bears marks of Ugu’s artistry everywhere…

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden patterned wall

… and eventually came to his shop, which is filled with his beautiful handmade ceramics and earthenware.

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden creamer with clay birds

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden earthenware

Inspired by nature, Ugu’s creations are earthy, organic and unusual. I loved the flocks of birds perched on dishes and cups—they’d inject a little whimsy in the daily routine, but the muted colors keep them from being over the top.

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden ceramic ladle and plate

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden ceramic cups

I wanted to buy almost everything, and I’m not even really into ceramics! I wish I’d taken better pictures, too, but it was almost sunset when we arrived.

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden pottery shop

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden vase

We also took a peek into the workshop where Ugu’s ceramic creatures wait for color and fire to bring them to life. Ugu offers pottery workshops in his studio, which must be booked in advance.

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden workshop

I wish I’d taken better pictures, too, but it was almost sunset when we arrived.

Ugu’s pottery goes on sale a few times a year, most notably on his birthday when the discount corresponds to his age. The master potter turns 52 on August 9, 2015—sounds like the perfect time for a return visit, don’t you think?

Ugu Bigyan Potter’s Garden
90 Alvarez Village
Barangay Lusacan
4325 Tiaong, Quezon
+63 42-545-9144
+63 917-560-5708
+63 917-560-7973
+63 42-545-8689
ugubigyan@yahoo.com
Open for lunch and coffee

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& Other Stories Amsterdam store opening

Have you heard of & Other Stories? Ever since I stepped into their Berlin store two years ago, I’ve been a big fan of this brand, which is part of the H&M Group. I longed for the day they would open a store in Amsterdam… and they finally did! So you can imagine how thrilled I was to be invited to the store opening of & Other Stories Amsterdam.

& Other Stories Amsterdam opening night

One of my favorite things about blogging is the opportunity to meet wonderful people who become your friends online as well as off. The invitation was the sweetest birthday surprise from my blog reader Angel, a fellow Pinay and travel magazine editor living in Arnhem. We’d been emailing each other about meeting up for a while, and it finally happened. Meeting an online friend in person is a bit like going on a blind date, but Angel and I hit it off right away.

Me and Angel at & Other Stories Amsterdam opening

I had been craving for a girly night out and the & Other Stories store opening provided just that. I thought I’d only stay an hour or two, but I couldn’t tear myself away. How could I? For starters, there were hunky men walking around wearing trays of jewelry…

& Other Stories Amsterdam treat tray

and scribbling cute little notes on bottle after bottle of champagne.

& Other Stories Amsterdam champagne with notes

Funny thing: after posting this picture on Instagram, I bumped into this exact same waiter on the tram the very next day! Sometimes I feel like Amsterdam really is a village. I showed him his picture and all the likes he had gotten, and we had a nice laugh about it.

See more from the & Other Stories Amsterdam store opening after the jump.

[Read more…]

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Winter uniform: Isabel Marant for H&M

As a Catholic school girl, the word “uniform” always brings me back to years of white starched blouses and strictly monitored hemlines. I couldn’t wait to break free of my school uniform and was happy to leave that word behind. Well, here I am using “uniform” to refer to my personal style for the first time in years.

Confession time: I’ve fallen into the habit of wearing tight bottoms with oversized tops. Honestly, it took me a few months to realize I was dressing as if I was still pregnant! Once I discovered I didn’t need to be in an Outfit to drop off Tala at the gastouder or to swing by the Kruidvat for a pack of diapers, it was easy to succumb to the warm, forgiving embrace of sweatshirts and leggings. Winter, when it seems pointless to dress up because it all gets covered up by a coat anyway, has simply reinforced that attitude.

But wait! I haven’t given up just yet. Comfort and style don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I figure if I’m going to stick to the basics, those basics ought to look good. If I’m going to just throw on a sweatshirt to pick Tala up from daycare, it might as well be a cool one, right?

This was how I justified the madness of queuing up for the Isabel Marant for H&M collection last November. It turned out to be a logical decision, because I’ve been living in my Isabel Marant loot all season long.

Mom style Isabel Marant for H&M Balenciaga

In the earlier half of winter, I could get away with just a warm angora cardigan over this black-and-white linen t-shirt—which is, by the way, from the men’s collection. Seeing the clothes-crazed violence in the women’s department forced me to sneak up to the men’s floor as both a shopping and survival strategy. I barely escaped with my life, plus a few good buys!

Mom style Isabel Marant for H&M duffle coat

This is the coat I throw over everything: my navy wool blend duffel coat from Uniqlo. I love how roomy it is, although I wish it was more resistant to pilling.

Mom style Isabel Marant for H&M

I thought I would swear off roundneck t-shirts after turning 30, but I couldn’t resist this cute feather-printed linen tee. With a pop of fuschia stretch velvet and SuperCosy fleece tights from Primark, it’s one of my more dressy errand outfits that’s surprisingly comfy.

Mom style Isabel Marant for H&M red sweatshirt

Another menswear score: my favorite sweatshirt of the season! This sold out almost instantly, and I wasn’t prepared to inflict bodily harm on anyone to grab the last piece in the women’s department. I just love the combination of color and comfort, print and practicality.

Mom style Indian silver and lapis lazuli necklace

Isabel Marant’s modern spin on bohemian chic inspired me to dig out some of my favorite pieces of ethnic jewelry, like this silver and lapis lazuli necklace I bought while on honeymoon in Jodhpur. I thought it was a bit much for laid-back Amsterdam, but somehow it works with the casual ease of a sweatshirt and boots. I’m glad to get a little more use out of it!

Do you have a “uniform” too? What are your go-to outfits, and how do you keep them fun and fresh?

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Manila shopping: The new & improved Bleach

I may have been adventurous with dining out on my recent trip home, but when it comes to shopping I’m completely a creature of habit. I have a roster of favorite shops in Manila that I hit for what I’ve come to think of as a kind of annual restocking.

My shopping list might not all be the stuff of Pinterest-worthy blog posts (plastic file folders and Japan-made pens at National Bookstore, for example), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the store that’s consistently at the top of my list got a major makeover. I’m talking about Bleach, formerly known as Bleach Catastrophe.

Bleach Greenbelt new look

In the six years I’ve lived away from home, my yearly trips home are never complete without a few new goodies from this store. Some of my favorite shirts of Marlon’s are from here, and I wore Bleach all throughout my pregnancy (which says a lot about their roomy yet flattering cuts).

Bleach Greenbelt menswear

Alongside the launch of an updated look for her store, Bleach owner Tinay Villamiel also expanded into home and interior items with a pared-down, modern sensibility.

Bleach Greenbelt new interior

I love that these are designed and made in the Philippines, using natural materials (linen, canvas and cotton), but offer a younger, hipper alternative to the usual Asian-Filipiniana fare.

Bleach Greenbelt new home items

Bleach Greenbelt banquet placemat

Bleach Greenbelt eggs and bacon tote

Maybe I’ve just gotten used to seeing a lot of gray, but after the sensory overload that is Manila, Bleach was a welcome visual break with its subtle palette. It’s refreshing to see something a little bit different, like these French- and Scandinavian-inspired details tucked into Bleach’s clothing, homeware and interiors. We all crave a little something that will transport us elsewhere, which also explains the proliferation of Buddha heads in homes across Europe.

Bleach Greenbelt merci dress

Bleach Greenbelt oui pillow

Bleach Greenbelt French inspired details

I like the new home items, but I do miss the wider clothing selection of the old store. I’ve always loved Bleach’s comfy basics with a twist—although every time I visit the store, there always happens to be some kind of pearl-earring-and-Lacoste-wearing preppy girl who’s walking out looking like she doesn’t get it. Haha.

Naturally I couldn’t leave without picking up a couple of things for myself: this cozy charcoal gray graphic sweatshirt…

Bleach Greenbelt gray sweatshirt

and this little black dress with an asymmetrical hemline for just Php 495, or €7. Ridiculously affordable, even if you’re not converting to Euros!

Bleach Greenbelt little black dress

Looks like this LBD will have to stay hidden for a few more months before it makes a debut. Can it be spring now, please?

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