Colonial Glam in Manila
Designer, fashion editor, and man about town Blue Carreon imbues his Philippines apartment with patina and tradition
I’ve always loved moldings,” says Blue Carreon, surveying the trimwork he added to a blank-box Manila condo. “And it’s a look that’s not common here in the Philippines.” Yearning for the traditional detailing he had enjoyed in his previous homes around the world, Carreon not only installed them in his new residence, but also filled their forms with mirrors for extra impact.
Since launching his accessories line, Blue Carreon Home, online and at New York’s Bergdorf Goodman, the designer—who also writes about style for Forbes and The Huffington Post, and authored the book Conversations: Up Close and Personal with Icons of Fashion, Interior Design, and Art—has been increasingly drawn to glamorous surfaces for his own personal environments. He has also welcomed a wave of nostalgia. “Growing up, I was surrounded by these and I hated them for the longest time,” he says of the blue-and-white ceramic jars that top a console in his entry. “Now I collect them!” Unlike his first apartment, which was a paean to minimalism, the decor of his 1,900-square-foot two-bedroom in Manila references the colonial-tinged style of his elders through a fresh and modern lens.
In the joint living-dining room, the standout piece is a brass-accented shell table of Carreon’s own design. “I’ve never been a fan of purple,” he admits, “but I really wanted to use that shell.” The richly mottled aubergine material was originally sourced for a sculptural bookend—part of his collection currently flying off the shelves at Bergdorf’s. Its pearlescent finish established a color scheme for the room, with surrounding Chippendale chairs in several coordinating shades.
For visual contrast, a black-and-white male nude paired with a stone-inlaid bench from Carreon’s chevron collection are set against a nearby wall. A conversational seating arrangement includes geometric side tables and slender accent chairs Carreon amassed over years of living elsewhere in Asia, including Hong Kong and Singapore. The angular brass-and-stone cocktail table (which resembles a wrapped gift) is yet another piece from the BCH line.
In the foyer, a hand-painted black-and-white floor treatment approximates the harlequin look without the price tag of marble. On the walls, Carreon commissioned a maharaja-inspired mural in gray, white, and light blue tones from an artist he has worked with frequently on large-scale painting projects.
The deep-blue second bedroom is used as a study and television room. A white sofa pops off the walls, and a gallery of artwork collected through the years hangs above: everything from a Jeremiah Goodman painting to a skateboard from Derek Lam’s Target capsule collection. Opposite, the built-in wall unit containing scores of books is painted in the same saturated shade of blue.
The master bedroom, with its soothing gray shades, is where Carreon finally found a corner in which to place a banquette. (He had always wanted one but had never lived in a space with an appropriate wall.) Above it, he hung a James Nares lithograph juxtaposed with Impressionist prints by Pissarro for a “contrast of modern and old, which is what I like to play with.” The bed, upholstered in tufted gray flannel, is a copy of one in Carreon’s New York City apartment. Art Deco–inspired brass sconces by the Hong Kong brand DeeM are paired with side tables of Carreon’s design: stone-inlaid tops with a chevron motif, each piece painstakingly hand-cut by artisans, and set on slender legs for a visually airy quality. Along the walls, he also added moldings—this time accented with a thin gold line inspired by the Balmain boutique in Paris to continue the home’s subtle metallic theme.
The pony-hair desk in the bedroom has stayed with Carreon for more than a decade. “It’s where I’ve been doing all my writing, it’s where I did my book, it’s my command center. It’s something that I can’t part with.” A framed hot-pink-and-gray photograph is from a Dolce & Gabbana show he attended in Milan as part of his very first fashion week. The photographer captured a woman in a ball gown as an abstract gesture. “You really have to look up close to see that it’s a model walking down the runway,” Carreon says.
A bonus maid’s room painted in a leaf-green hue functions as another workspace when Carreon’s employees come over for meetings. Closet doors double as mood boards for future collections of Blue Carreon Home, outside decorating projects, and everyday inspiration. Also in the home’s service area, a sleek kitchen with open shelving displays shapely objets on a silver stand, as well as quirky ceramic monkey vases found at a flea market in the Philippines. A framed double-exposed Polaroid of a Hong Kong socialite is a memento from one of the first shoots Carreon ever worked on as a fashion editor. (He loved the happy accident so much that he asked the photographer to make him a print.)
Carreon shares his home with Brighton, his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who recently joined him in Manila. “He goes to my store everyday and works as a mascot,” he says—a fitting companion for a cosmopolitan figure.