Interior stylist Erika Joan Ong imagines beautiful spaces wherever she goes
By Deneb R. Batucan
WHEREVER life takes her, Erika Joan Ong always sees beauty in everything. As a freelance interior stylist, this is what she has always set herself to master: look for that something special in everything and anything.
With her creative juices boiling up to the brim, Erika takes inspiration from the beauty that surrounds her. “My aesthetic evolves constantly. I get inspired easily. Let’s say I’m reading a biography of an artist or I get inspired through my travels or by art. But sometimes my aesthetic is dictated by the client. I get their interests and run them through my own filters. And then I give them options,” she shared.
Erika styles various spaces from condos to houses and even offices. She focuses on aesthetic values in her composition, choosing from different types of physical techniques. What she does is to get to know her clients and incorporate their preferences to their desired style. “It’s a lot like styling celebrities. I meet my clients and get to know their likes and incorporate their style to the interiors. It’s more of recreating my clients’ aura into the room that they want to be styled,” she said.
Erika takes several pieces and makes them work for a specific space. From the color of the paint and the furniture used to the accent pieces that makes the room come to life, Erika uses her keen eye to take in different pieces and patterns and mesh them all together to make one beautifully styled room. But it’s not just generic styling – she sees to it that her clients’ quirks and innate style is visible in the space.
As with everyone in the freelance world, Erika does everything on her own. From the planning stage to selecting the pieces needed for a space, Erika does it all. But even when things get a little too hectic, she feels that her job isn’t like a job at all. “Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to interiors. So my job doesn’t feel like work to me. Even though sometimes I get stressed out, at the end of the day, I’m happy,” she said.
Of course, there are struggles that come with the job. Delayed orders and fickle-minded clients are just the tip of the iceberg. But Erika, being a level-headed professional, never lets anything get to her nerves. She gracefully deals with every problem with precise steps, coordination and trust that the people she works with will help her see things through.
Aside from styling interiors, Erika also customizes furniture. “Let’s just say that the client wants something that can’t be found in furniture places here in Cebu, so I have people who could customize furniture for my clients. Quality wise, I’m very confident because these people used to work for exporters so they know which ones are good,” she said.
Erika is also into photography. “I’m not a professional but, I have always had my own way of seeing things,” she said.
And right she does. Erika’s clients have constantly complimented the young interior stylist of her good taste and great eye for beauty. “What I notice about myself is I get inspired by photos and I try to execute my own version into my design. I get inspired by colors and different looks. Right now, I’m drawn to anything raw and simple, like concrete and white paint with brass accents. Understated elegance,” she said. “I have so many ideas and my clients also contribute a lot to the design. Sometimes there are spaces that are challenging, but I always try to use whatever the space provides.”
As Erika readies herself for the interior design board exam next year, she busies herself with freelance styling projects as practice. “For me, it’s important to practice. Also, it’s important to train your eyes to spot something special in everything. Wherever you go, look for patterns, colors, art or just anything that could help elevate your next design.”
Erika sees a blank space as an opportunity – an opportunity to master her skills in interior styling and design. As her aesthetic evolves, her passion for her art evolves too as she gets better and better as what she does.
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas
Locale: Calyx Residences