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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Interior design icon supports preservation of historic buildings

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Jazmin Soler, who designed the interiors of the Presidential Arlegui Guest House (Laperal Mansion) in Malacañang Complex in the 1970s, supports the preservation of historic buildings for the next generation.

Soler also encourages new interior designers to prioritize function over aesthetics to create comfortable homes in a tropical country like the Philippines.

“Function should follow aesthetics,” said the 80-year-old proprietor of Jazmin “Boots” Soler Interior Designs in an interview at The Grove by Rockwell in Pasig City.

Soler, who still hand-draws beautiful house sketches, admitted she is not impressed by current design trends.

“The majority are too modern,” she said. “I’m not a fan of using glass in a hot, tropical country.”

The multi-awarded interior designer, who earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Santo Tomas in 1964, is known for her highly functional yet inspirational and aesthetically pleasing designs.

Soler designed the interiors of the Arlegui Guest House in 1974, three months before the International Monetary Fund meetings in Manila.

Her other projects include the Music Room of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos in San Juan, the Pacific Star Building lobby in Makati City, mansions in the Philippines, the US, Japan and Hong Kong, as well as yachts, law offices, restaurants and other businesses.

One of her early projects was a restaurant where Shangri-La Hotel now stands in Makati. The former first lady dined there in 1974 and was impressed by the interior design.

“That’s how it started,” Soler said. “I was given three months and had to work from scratch — carpet, wallpaper, ceiling design, everything. I was given the freedom to design.”

“The interior design should take longer than building the house shell,” Soler said. “But because of the IMF meetings, I had to finish the design in three months.” Roderick T. dela Cruz

Soler said her design inspiration came from the mansion’s architecture.

Soler, however, explained that she does not impose designs on clients. “I adapt to the client’s demands,” she said. “I interview them first. Whatever they like, I interpret it in the right way. It has to reflect the client’s personality.”

First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos recently opened the Arlegui Guest House as the official residence for foreign heads of state or government visiting the country. It has been labeled the “crown jewel” of the residences inside the Malacañang complex, designed by the country’s best artisans and designers.

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