Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Starmall renovation projects

I always believe that you get your next project from your last (excellent) project. That's enough reason to keep doing the best job you can.

I think The Manuela Corporation people took note of the work I did with the Ayala Malls and thought I could do something with their malls. The work that began with the renovation of Starmall EDSA grew - we then worked on Metropolis Alabang (now Starmall Alabang), and MStar Las PiƱas.

Thin budgets constrain developers to completely tear down old malls and create new ones. The solution: renovation. That was my job: renovate an old mall to make it look like a new and inviting mall. That was what I was set out to do.

I'm VERY proud of the work I did with Manuela. With a great great team (client, suppliers AND contractors), I think we were able to accomplish the job.

With careful design, coordination and new materials, I told the team - we have to do it QUICKLY - so as the people don't even notice that we are actually just covering the facade with new color, materials and design (I wanted to cover the whole building a la Christo while we were at work - but there was no budget for it).

I think we did it. When the Starmall EDSA facade was done, I had comments that the building was "bigger". Some people thought Starmall was part of EDSA Shang-gri-la Mall. I'd like to think that the investment the clients made on me, construction and production came back to them a hundredfold. A new lease on life for an old mall.

When we started the project Manuela Mall was in a word: scary. When we did the job, it was a complete turn around. I remember watching people come in (I was thrilled when women came into the mall - women hardly came into Manuela before the renovation). The Manuela projects were very fulfilling - it's absolutely wonderful when the design you see in your mind comes into reality!

Alabang Town Center Environmental Graphics

Before I was commissioned to do the Alabang Town Center (ATC) Entertainment Area design, the first job was to design and create the environmental graphics for the mall.

I remember I knew what I wanted to do with ATC. I wanted to create a "Filipino" mall - a real classy, sophisticated "Filipino" mall we could call our own. ATC already had somewhat a "Spanish / Mediterranean" architecture which I thought could work with the Filipino concept.

At first client was not so crazy about placing "jeepney" images in their upscale mall but once we made a prototype (we made a mall directory), they knew exactly what I wanted to do and they gave me a go ahead.

Thus when you go to Alabang Town Center - you will be able to see kalesas, jeepneys decorating mall posts. The restroom is called a "banyo" with male and female icons in a barong and baro't saya. A certain part of the mall has icons of a Filipino market or "palengke".

A truly classy and sophisticated Filipino mall! :-)

Alabang Town Center Entertainment Center

Not a lot of graphic designers / artists / illustrators design spaces and I think that is precisely why I LOVE doing it.

Alabang Town Center (ATC) Entertainment Center will always be one of my favorite projects. The dream team was a joy to work with - Belen Javier, Carina Go and the rest were amazing. Everyone wanted the BEST (at the lowest cost), and I think that is why we got along so well.

The job was to make a new look for a very old building - at minimum budget. At first I thought of a Metropolitan Museum / turn of the century look (to go along with the Spanish / Filipino architecture of the rest of the mall) but they client wanted something modern and contemporary - I understood why.

We designed everything - graphics, layout, facade, store guidelines, ceilings, floorings (our motto - "God is in the details") - there was a time I myself would be painting murals (I remember a security guard recognizing me as a TV host and wondering what I was doing painting a mural at the job site late late at night). People have preconceived notions of what TV people are - but then again I'm was really never a TV person.

I really liked ATC and the whole experience of creating it. I miss the people and ATC will always be special to me.