Tina Fernandez was taking a workshop on psychiatrist Carl Jung and his concept of the persona when she found out that she has two distinct personalities. “My dominant male is Zeus,” says the artist and owner of the gallery ArtInformal, “and my dominant female is Aphrodite.”
Having opened the gallery in 2004, Fernandez eventually began to explore ideas regarding the creative process of artists that went beyond simply doing fine art. “Objects that may not necessarily be part of an exhibition or a gallery, but could be fun if placed in a retail setting,” she explains. Out of these musings—and her new ties in identity to the Greek goddess of love and beauty—came the concept store Aphro, an extension of ArtInformal.
Aphro is all about infusing daily life with art and design. This mission statement is easily discernable in the look of the store itself, done by Jagnus Design Studio. Products are laid out on shelves resembling (and functioning as) a staircase, leading to a loft where Fernandez’ office can be found behind black glass. It also, in a truly whimsical touch, enables customers to make use of the slide. And if you’re lucky, you can even meet Blanca, the stray cat that’s made Aphro her own personal kingdom and won its human inhabitants’ hearts.
Fernandez’ vision of the store is not simply a matter of functionality, or accessibility, or even practicality. “Art doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to just be displayed,” she says. “It can be used.” She insists that it’s about indulgence: “Why keep art hidden? If you buy it, you might as well enjoy it.”
Aphro carries an eclectic collection of functional art from artists both local and foreign, including stoneware from Pablo Capati III’s Ro Keramic line, furniture and dolls from the Geraldine Javier Studio, and baskets and chairs by Valeria Cavestany. Paintings and sculptures from the back room of ArtInformal are also displayed. Particularly of note is the Fall/Winter collection of Rita Nazareno’s Zacarias 1925, comprising woven bags with unique shapes inspired by certain works of art and architectural structures, exclusively available locally at the store.
“Everything is renewed all the time,” Fernandez says of Aphro, meaning you’ll never visit the same store twice. She adds: “Homes without art feel like they’re not complete. I want people to know through this shop that you can live with art everyday.” – Fiel Estrella
Photos by JL Javier
Aphro is located at The Alley at Karrivin, Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati.