Who said art can only exist on canvas or paper, be sculpted or only hang on walls? Sometimes the walls themselves are the art. This is the impression you get when you step into the art design world of Juan Lacsamana, a Philippines-born interior designer/artist, now based in Kuching, Malaysia who recently visited Manila to showcase his work.
Lacsamana, who has lived in Malaysia for over 30 years, believes that painting a wall is not your regular house project. Charming colours, exquisite designs and textures, even the avant-garde are on display, literally everywhere he sets his brush and paints.
In houses of various important “Dato’s” and “Tan Sri’s” from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching, Lacsamana uses bold paints: reds, greens, blues, even silver, copper, although he can use subdued browns mixed with metallic golds . A door with the metallic paint collection adds a shimmery zest to the otherwise characterless black door.
A charcoal grey rough-textured 3D panel with a touch of glitter winks alluringly from one corner as one walks through the room. 3D wall panels give extra dimension to walls bringing them to life with modern and contemporary textured wall designs.
It would make for a perfect attached-to-the-wall headboard, to take your bedroom style to the next level. Or a feature in the sitting room.
Lacsamana, an interior designer who has worked in Manila, Bahrain and Singapore, moved to Malaysia after marrying a Dayak tribe lass, and raised a family in bucolic but vibrantly-artsy Kuching, where he branched out to start his own interior design outfit.
While working last week on a Manila home of a friend, where all sorts of spectacular colours came to life, Lacsamana explained to Manila Standard how it all started by chance.
“I was always an artist at heart, hanging out with boyhood friends like Pandy Aviado and R.M. de Leon at Philamlife Homes,” said Lacsamana. There, the young artist grew up painting, printing, installing all sorts of artworks in the laid back confines of this Quezon City suburb in the late 70s and early 80s.
Lacsamana opted for a promising career in interior design, which brought him projects from Manila to other countries in the next two decades. “It was natural that as my craft and entrepreneurial projects in interior designing grew, I fell back on my innate passion to make things more beautiful, and functional. I soon found out that combining the two makes good business sense,” he said.
It is the sensual pleasure of seeing beautiful finishings on walls and interiors that soon gave way to the interest of decorative painting and interior design.
Now he has been in the decorative painting business for 20 years. His work, aside from the paint colour charts with techniques developed over the years integrates other portfolios including mouldings, floorings, Roof lighting solutions, attic ladders among others.
But much of the buzz around Lacsamana’s business seems to revolve around paints. Now his sons, Lucas and Dylan, both of whom have inherited his passion for art, help him out, presenting a different, just innovated or upgraded pattern, design or blend of colours to their old man. There seems to be a lot of experimentation and novelty going on.
When you challenge him to settle on a word that encapsulates his concept for this facet of the business, Lacsamana settles on “painterly”. He also claims the walls “talk” to him, and helps him decide on the design and colors to use for each project.
The masterful manipulation of pigments or colourants and surfaces to create the varied finishes certainly describes his company’s engulfing groundwork.
“Finishes and decorating techniques ebb and flow according to personal visions combined with current art trends. So we keep evolving, coming up with unique techniques,” said Lacsamana.
“We are always thinking of ways to turn a run-of-the-mill room into the creative space it can be,” he said.
While some of the extensive works to have been undertaken by Lacsamana’s firm have been with hotels, restaurants and bars, and commercial complexes, he said any decorative paint can be scaled down, and custom-made to suit the client’s preference and budget.
“Yes, we work with hotels and other high end property developments and interior design projects, but it is wrong to assume that these decorative finishes are only within the means of these categories of clients,: he said. “Even the thriftiest of clients can still find something that will suit them.”
“Asians now have an opportunity to move away from drab plain walls,” he said. “The walls that you live work or play in should not be drab and cold but a reflection of your passions and life style.”
“We aim to expand the aesthetic and functional range in the course of time,” said Lacsamana. “Someone watching the paint job going over and over, with every inch, putting on layers of colour and texture, must think there must be an easier way to do this. There is. It’s called wallpaper. But painting is different. There are no joints. It lasts longer. It is not like wall paper that is affected by tears.”
For the future, Lacsamana intends to continue his experimentation with creative wall painting. He has set his sights on his sons, both Malaysian citizens, to continue his iconic work, and take over the company when he decides to hang up his brushes and paint.
Which he acknowledged may not be that soon. “I’ll probably work as a consultant to my sons, but once an artist, always an artist: I’ll accept projects here and there when “the walls talk to me.”
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