Mar 4, 2019

“When people come over here they’re shocked at how small the space is,” says Martine Ho, creative director of Sunnies, of her apartment in Rockwell in between bites of sunny side up eggs and avocado she’s having for breakfast.

Decked out in warm hues of pink and vivid greens—thanks to her collection of plants—the 71-sq. m. apartment is what she likes to call the Ho Haus, a playful iteration based on her husband’s last name. This is despite the fact that she has the whole place all to herself, an investment she had before getting married.

“The vision for my place was never a family home for us or our future kids—although we definitely have dreams of building one, too. This is more of an inspiring space that I could always have for myself.”

martine ho apartment

martine ho apartment

“It’s more of how I utilized it and made it bigger by adding functional furniture to widen the space,” she says. The dining area—where one of two paintings by her aunt Isabel Diaz hangs—attests to this. Curved pieces such as an illuminated round mirror and an oval table cut away corners, creating room to breathe.

martine ho apartment

A pink modular Hay Design couch easily catches the eye in the sunlit living room. Martine says it was quite a splurge, together with the framed television, which seamlessly blends in as art into the wall, and the Smeg refrigerator she has recently acquired for her kitchen that’s currently being remodeled.

Tomado shelves she hand-carried from a vintage store in Barcelona line the walls and brim with books of her design influences from Bauhaus to Vitra—and curiously, a pink vase shaped like a phallus. A real conversation starter, says Martine.

martine ho apartment
This is quite an interesting piece you have here.

It’s called the Shiva Vase by Ettore Sottsass, a symbol of his love for a Catalan woman. I saw it while in Milan and knew I needed to find a way to bring it home. People often ask me if I’m aware of what it resembles, to which I reply, “Obviously. Iam a grown woman.”

 

We understand that despite the house’s name it’s actually your personal space.

Cliff and I share similar views on marriage and togetherness—we both respect each other’s need for space. The vision for my place was never a family home for us or our future kids—although we definitely have dreams of building one, too. This is more of an inspiring space that I could always have for myself.

martine ho apartment
What was the inspiration for the interiors?

I fell in love with the design scene in Milan when I went there last year for Sunnies Face. I wanted the space to feel playful, airy, and bright. It has a mix of vintage lamps with sentimental value, a few pieces I lugged over from local furniture designers in Melbourne, and pieces I’ve found throughout my travels and miraculously was able to bring home.

martine ho apartment
You have a lot of houseplants. How does that influence the overall look of your house?

I’m a believer of the biophilia [hypothesis] which suggests that humans innately seek out being around other living things. Also, I can’t have a dog so the commitment I can have at the moment is plants. In a sense, they’re my pets. I just enjoy looking at them and being around them. It’s just as simple as that.

“I grew up with this painting by my Tita Isabel in my childhood home in Orange County and I remember admiring the colors when I was young. I suppose it inspired me very early on to be drawn to this palette.”

What’s your approach to curation? Are you more of a minimalist or a maximalist?

I’m trying to be a minimalist. But I seem to have a serious rug hoarding addiction. I switch them out quite frequently. I find it such an easy way to change up the vibe and energy of the room depending upon your mood. And I enjoy the craftsmanship that goes into them. Plus, I love the search for finding the perfect one and bringing it home.

martine ho apartment
Where do you usually source your furniture?

I’m an advocate of high and low mixing when it comes to design. Some of my fave high-end stores in Manila are CWC (for all your Eames and Vitra needs) and Casa Bella (for Hay Design). For good cheap finds, I turn to local Japanese surplus stores. I once bought a set of Herman Miller office chairs for P2,000 and an amazing mid-century style couch we still use at Sunnies HQ.

I also frequent Craigslist when I’m in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. The Rose Bowl Flea Market is also incredible for furniture finds. In Melbourne, I love going to Smith Street Bazaar.

martine ho apartment
What are some of the pieces here that you consider valuable?

I grew up with this painting by my Tita Isabel in my childhood home in Orange County and I remember admiring the colors when I was young. I suppose it inspired me very early on to be drawn to this palette. It moves around a lot because it looks good in every corner. I convinced my mom I needed it in my life and she generously gave it to me.

 

Hair by Dorothy Mamalio

This story originally appeared in Southern Living Recalibrate Issue. 

Read more:

Meet the Filipino architect reimagining domestic space in Hong Kong

How to design your space with color, according to an in-demand interior decorator

An editor’s notes on how to entertain at home during the holidays

TAGS: apartment living design Ho Haus home interiors Living Things Martine Ho Sunnies