HAVING covered the Philippine School of Interior Design’s (PSID) annual graduation exhibit with almost routine regularity, I’ve come across quite a number of fresh and even intriguing themes over the years—from celebrities’ imaginary living spaces and spaces catering to the needs of the differently abled, to works of art by Filipino masters and the vibrant hues they use.
As far as PSID’s aspiring interior designers are concerned, this year’s theme could be the most challenging yet as graduating students in groups of four to six draw from original Filipino music as sources of inspiration to produce 21 interior design vignettes.
Dubbed as “Obra Para sa Musika” or “OPM,” the students’ works, which double as their graduation theses, are currently on display until the end of October at the third floor of Glorietta 3 in Makati. Admission is free.
Light bulb moment
“I got the idea last year when I read in the news that a group of OPM (Original Pilipino Music) artists were complaining to the government about the continuous invasion of foreign acts,” said architect and interior designer Edwin Enriquez, this year’s batch adviser. “Since many of us are music lovers, an idea hit me: how can we merge music with interior design?”
When he did further research, Enriquez discovered that not a few musicians were in fact inspired by certain spaces and places to produce what have now become immortal songs. This gave him another light bulb moment.
“Can it work the other way around?” he asked. “Can the design of space be inspired by music or a particular song?”
To make it easier for everyone, Enriquez and his colleagues at PSID decided to narrow the students’ choices to original Filipino music. Apart from making the exhibit more manageable, limiting the theme to OPM lends the annual event with a nationalistic flavor.
“But Filipino music can be pretty diverse, too,” said Enriquez. “It would have been incomplete had we limited it to the golden age of OPM in the mid ’70s to the early ’80s. That’s why we decided to widen the scope.”
There was a time Enriquez even toyed with the idea of including a song by the late Yoyoy Villame. After all, the artist was an institution and, together with the late Fred Panopio, an exponent of Filipino novelty songs. But he had to scrap it after being met with howls of protest from his young students.
At the same time, Enriquez, with much regret, had to drop two classic pop songs such as Hajji Alejandro’s “Tag-araw” and Rico J. Puno’s version of “Memories,” which mixes English and Filipino lyrics—“alaala nang tayo’y mag-sweethearts pa/namamasyal pa sa Luneta/nang walang pera…so, it’s the laughter/we will remember/the way we were.”
How come? These two monster hits at the height of OPM’s golden age were originally written in English by foreign composers.
“In keeping with our theme of using only original Filipino music, we limited the choices to songs and compositions written and performed by Filipinos,” said Enriquez.
Deciding on a scope
Although there’s nothing wrong with them, he also ditched tribal and ethnic forms of Filipino music as well as Spanish- and early American-era zarzuelas.
But the final list of inspirations is still pretty diverse—from Ric Manrique Jr.’s Kundiman ballads to latter-day pop-rock songs by the likes of Kamikaze, Urbandub and Sugarfree.
Other famous bands on the list are Rivermaya, Parokya ni Edgar and, of course, Eraserheads. Songs by such acts and composers as Ryan Cayabyab, Nicanor Abelardo, Apo Hiking Society, VST and Company, Hotdog, Hagibis, Lea Salonga, Gary Valenciano, Francis M., Celeste Legaspi, Tillie Moreno, Ray-An Fuentes, Noel Cabangon and even prolific songwriter Fr. Manoling Francisco also made the cut.
Many of the students drew heavily on the songs’ lyrics, while a few tried to capture the songs’ essence through their melodies. How they managed to do it and whether they failed or not is ultimately up to the viewer.
Like in years past, groups drew lots to determine what song and area of the house they would showcase. They also had to deal with the demands of imaginary clients with respective backstories. Each group worked on an assigned space measuring not more than 20 sq m.
Marketplace of ideas
But certain groups ventured beyond the home since they were tasked to work on commercial spaces such as a candy bar, ice cream parlor, club lounge, spa, coffee-slash-wine bar, day care center and memorabilia shop. Indeed, like a marketplace of ideas, there’s something for everyone at the annual PSID exhibit.
Not a few students had to shell out between P50,000 to P100,000 each to help realize their visions, which, sadly, would all have to be demolished come November 1st. Had they not tapped into a number of generous sponsors, they would have ended up spending more.
“I believe music is one of the hardest sources of inspiration yet because it’s a totally different art form. It helps if you’re musically inclined, but you would still have to think long and hard before doing it,” said Enriquez.
(For more pictures and a comprehensive version of this story, read the home section of the Philippines’ Number 1 English-language newspaper. All photos in this entry were shot by Chito Vecina.)