“Curated” in not the word that immediately comes to mind when considering the trove of pieces found in AC+632. From hats of a bygone era to the occasional taxidermy animal, the wares of the eclectic store are, at first glance, a show of odds and ends that don’t quite fit together.
But from the perspective of founders Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, the store, which turned eight this year, is far less about showcasing one style that in it is about championing a lifestyle. “AC+632 has always espoused the art of gracious living and the romance of the Old World, which guides us in choosing objects of beauty and products for one’s well being,” they explain. “As long as a product fits into these ideals then it blends with everything else in the store.”
The partners have spent years cultivating their collections, making annual trips abroad to discover new cultural and shopping destinations as well as to visit old favorites. France, Italy, and the United Kingdom are always top picks, while they have recently come to love the likes of Bavaria and Burma.
Pulling from such storied destinations, their exceptional finds are likely to have equally exceptional narratives attached to them, from where they are from and who once owned them to their respective artisans and processes of creation. “We always try to know the provenance and stories behind a piece because it always enriches the experience of finding and buying them and it’s a joy to share this experience with our clients,” they say. “Antique pieces like exquisite candlesticks from an old estate in the English countryside are just as interesting as new items like chic wicker picnic baskets produced by one of France’s oldest aristocratic families.”
Of course, their wares have never excluded the local. Counted among their products are the “whimsical furniture and objet d’art created by young Filipino designers like Lilianna Manahan, who went around the Philippines and came home with many stories to tell about traditional craftsmen like the abel weavers of Ilocos who updated their product thanks to her contemporary designs.”
As respected design enthusiasts long before they opened Firma, their first store, and AC+632, their establishments are now serve as extensions of their own design philosophies. “There are of course pieces that never make it to the store because they really fit our home, and some that we sold before and wished we kept for ourselves because we never saw them again,” they say. “But the store is also a second home… a place where one can discover unusual finds. It should always be a pleasure to be there, a place one would like to visit again and again.”
That’s not to say that the store’s design aesthetic is static. “In the coming years,” they explain, “we hope to have many more innovative local products that are environmentally friendly and sustainable, helping Filipino farmers, craftsmen, and communities while producing products that make living a little more refined and gracious.” – Arianna Lim
Photos by JL Javier
AC+632 is located at 2/F Greenbelt 5 Legaspi St., Ayala Center, Makati City.