New blood in design town - Weekend

New blood in design town

Deankie Latonio and Tiara Sison design their destiny with The Apartment feat

| By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor

Deankie Latonio and Tiara Sison
Deankie Latonio and Tiara Sison

SOME time in October of 2013, there was talk circulating about two young Filipinos, graduates of the University of San Carlos’s Interior Design program, making it to a reality design competition on Star World.

Their journey, though, was overshadowed by a series of events that transpired late last year. It was only until the final episode, when they bagged the first place title that the spotlight was aimed at them, and the Philippines knew their name: Deankie Latonio and Tiara Sison, up-and-coming interior designers whose style, stamina and ingenuity brought pride to the country. Both are 24 years old.

Deankie and Tiara bested nine other pairs, all coming from different countries, in The Apartment, a reality show filmed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the show they were given identical apartments in each episode to design from scratch under budget and time specifications. The 10-episode series aired in the Philippines starting October 6, with the finale last December 1.

“From the very beginning until the end, we showed them our potential,” Deankie said. “In each episode, we surprised them with new things and applied what we learned from previous challenges. We got better each week and that’s probably what made them keep us until the end.”

THE APARTMENT WINNERS. Deankie Latonio and Tiara Sison, graduates of the University of San Carlos’s Interior Design program, bested nine other pairs, all coming from different countries, in The Apartment, a reality show filmed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
THE APARTMENT WINNERS. Deankie Latonio and Tiara Sison, graduates of the University of San Carlos’s Interior Design program, bested nine other pairs, all coming from different countries, in The Apartment, a reality show filmed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Winning designs

Prior to the grand finale, the pair had won in three challenges: the living room where they did brush strokes painting techniques on the inset ceiling, the family room where they put dried leaves on the feature wall, and, lastly, the guest bedroom that they made elegant and chic despite the low-cost specifics. “We like putting on pieces in a way that is fascinating and new to the public’s eye,” Tiara said.

The Apartment’s celebrity designer and mentor is Jamie Durie, a regular on the Oprah Winfrey show, while the show’s head judge is Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, a home style consultant known for his BBC television shows Changing Rooms and House Gift.

To join the show, Deankie and Tiara sent a video audition where they showed their vibrant dynamism as a pair. The two have been good friends since their college years. “It was our natural selves coming out in our audition video and interview, and our connection with each other that caught the producers’ attention,” Deankie said.

Chosen field

Deankie studied in St. Louis School of Mandaue (now St. Louis College) in high school, and said it was his stepdad, an architect and furniture designer, who inspired him to later venture in the field of design.

Even back then, he had already been recognized for his work, such as winning Best in Interior Design in the school’s Dibujo Design Awards in 2009, and also in the same year, he was a finalist in the annual Cebu X Furniture Expo under the student internship category. There his contest entry was awarded Best Product Design.

“Aside from my dad and my instructors in school, I am specially influenced by one of my greatest Ates in the industry, interior designer Jul Oliva, who exposed me to different amazing artists such as ‘Captain Organic’ Ross Lovegrove,” said Deankie. “I’m very much into eco modern designs.”

The young prodigy finished his degree last March and immediately proceeded to auditioning for the show alongside Tiara, who is originally from Davao City. Tiara previously worked at Cebu-based design firm, Lamisa Ug Aparador, before taking part in the show.

Tiara describes her style as “modern and sophisticated” while Deankie, a self-professed antagonist to monotony, says he “loves matching random accents.”

Opportunities beckon

The pair took home, among others, Nikon cameras, Toshiba laptops and Vabene watches as minor prizes. For the grand finale, where they designed an entire house under time pressure, they won a five-day trip a luxury resort in Bali, and also a two-storey home at the luxurious Elmina community in Malaysia.

What’s next for the talented pair this 2014? Nowadays, Deankie and Tiara shuffle back and forth from the Philippines to Malaysia regularly, as they venture toward bigger opportunities where they can further hone their skills, and ignite a new design revolution.

“I’m happy to say that I’m starting to move in to the design industry in both countries,” Deankie said, and on a personal note, he added, “I’ll be preparing for the board exams as well.”

Photos: Imagine Group

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