Some things never go out of style. Own it.
Interview JOHANNA D. POBLETE | Photography G-NIE ARAMBULO FOR ADPHOTO
Margarito “Ito” Kish still carries a monogrammed white handkerchief—a basic rule—and dresses up whenever he goes abroad. “Travel is an experience, and I think that you should celebrate that in a good way,” the interior design consultant and furniture-maker points out.
Mr. Kish is allergic to trends. His style choices, as well as his designs, are grounded in who he is and where he comes from, so it’s easy to appreciate his unique point of view. (Everyone has seen the ubiquitous baluster, for example, but only Mr. Kish dreamt up an award-winning line of seating—The Gregoria, a tribute to his mother—by varying the length of the shafts.)
It’s also hard to fault his taste whenever he brings a foreign item home. While a regular Juan might be a walking cliché with a pocketful of refrigerator magnets and keychains, Mr. Kish skips the kitsch and opts for something strangely beautiful—like a Nordic antler straight from Denmark.
How’d you find this antler?
I was at Milan Design Week, and in the Ventura Lambrate exhibit, someone designed a shelving, and at the end of it was an antler. So I was on the lookout for antlers. We found this in Copenhagen during our buying session in an antiques store.
I was never really attracted to antlers, because what’s the point of looking into something that you can’t find here? The closest thing we have here is the carabao horn, it’s a different material. But when I got to Copenhagen, they were all over the place.
What does the antler represent?
It’s how beautiful nature is. Kung iisipin, sayang: It got cut, you don’t know if it could’ve grown longer; you also don’t know how beautiful the animal is. But you keep it, and you show appreciation by displaying it.
For the most part, your style is Asian, not Scandinavian.
Anything you buy, you should love it and you should appreciate it. Go to my house, you’ll see that very strong Asian aesthetic but I’ve added a few pieces which aren’t Asian, all for the reason of adding character to what I have in the house… There’s sort of a connection to every piece you see.
Do interior designers, by nature, control the spaces they’re in?
I do not know if the word is control, but maybe to create a story in every part of the house. Control is very rigid, it’s not organic. To create a story, like when you put things together, there’s a sense of why you’re doing it, there’s a reason behind it. Even in the way that we set up the store, I do little vignettes.
How do you create a perfect setting for beautiful things, since they’re all attention-seekers?
When you accumulate beautiful things, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s really just a matter of how you can compose it—where you place them, the position, how you light it, you can create a mood. Whatever you do, these are the things that you like and these are the things that you love and you want to surround yourself with all those things.
How many antlers have you got, now?
I have three antlers—one with the head of the deer attached—but this one’s beautiful. I like the shape, the texture. The way you can tell the age is to count how many points are there; every point or spike represents a year of growth. This one has five points, and presumably five on the other side, so 10 years.
These are actually weapons.
They could have used it as weapons during the olden days, maybe the Vikings.
Antlers are used by the animal to attract a mate; the bigger, the more attractive.
I don’t overanalyze. I find it beautiful, and when I saw it, the first thing that really crossed my mind was to put it on my coffee table—either to add candles or whatever. It’s not the usual shape. The texture is beautiful, even from the point where it was cut.
When you see something beautiful, do you immediately want it?
If I can afford it, why not? I’m lucky. Ever since we started in 2000—or even in 1998 in the first store, Urban Effects—I always had to have first dibs on what’s beautiful and what’s interesting. I don’t really look at whether it’s expensive or not, but whether it catches your attention and how you can make use of it. I don’t have expensive stuff in the house, most are just pieces I love and discovered along the way, when I traveled.
Would you consider the antler a found object?
In a way. Every “horn” is different. None of them will ever be the same so what you have is one of a kind, an original piece.