Step into the world of window design with Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo’s latest book

Published February 26, 2021, 5:30 PM

by John Legaspi

Vibal Foundation’s newest addition to its Fifty Shades of Philippine Art series is a fashion and culture must-read 

Conjuring Dreams of Africa, the AC+632 window inspired by Karen Blixen’s tale of adventure, lost love and tragedy in her 1937 autobiographical book Out of Africa, which was also made into an award-winning film.

Apart from towering and glistening skyscrapers, and a sea of well-adorned people, beauty in the city can be found on window displays. High art took over the high street as young artists started to extend their canvas to enormous glass windows being installed in retail centers. These days, strolling along a street decked with breathtaking displays from boutiques and bake shops to homewares is like having the same experience you get from walking inside a museum—it lures you into fantasy. 

That is what design duo Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo’s newest book is all about. Dubbed as “The Art of Window, Display, and Design,” the book is the latest addition to Vibal Foundation’s Fifty Shades of Philippine Art series. Being the creative minds behind lifestyle and furnishing stores Firma and AC+632, it is just fitting for Chito and Ricky to welcome readers to this field of design and inspire them.

Portrait of Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, pencil on paper by Pablo Orendain

“Through our windows, interiors, and fashion, we take readers on a journey—the different places, people, and cultures that inspired them,” Ricky says.

“They also get a glimpse of the process of creating them and the aesthetic principles involved. Also how these principles are applied to interior design and fashion, which comprise the last two chapters of the book,” Chito muses. 

A true insider’s guide, the book catalogues not only the famous windows of the authors’ lifestyle and home furnishings stores, but also their interiors and fashion productions. It also features over 500 images to complement 10 essays featuring a myriad of art styles and design elements from across the globe and provides tips and principles of visual merchandising, interior design, and fashion.

“Pertinent elements of design are also discussed as well as suggestions on places to visit, experiences to be had, and books to stimulate the mind and the eye,” Ricky says. “It encourages the reader to explore more.”

Among the highlights of the book are a trip to Kenya inspired by the Hollywood film “Out of Africa” and the legendary tale of Isaak Dinesen, leading to a detailed study of Anglo-African safari style. It also documents an in-depth look at the concept of “mono no aware” (fleetingness of life) and Japanese art and style as filtered through the geisha culture of Kyoto.

Readers will have a peek into the world of fantasy and imaginative recreation as seen through the mad king Ludwig of Bavaria, the distillation of classical aesthetics through the prism of Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Tosca” and an intimate tour of the Eternal City. A behind-the-scenes examination of the authors’ private abode that is a veritable showcase of cross-cultural influences and a summation of the cultural kaleidoscope of multi-cultural elements behind the duo’s wildly successful benefit fashion shows for the Philippine National Red Cross are also presented in its pages.

The 2009 Christmas window of AC+632, Once Upon A Dream, was inspired by the Fairy Tale King, Ludwig II of Bavaria. The tableau features an imagined fantasy of the king, who from his Gothic bedroom in Neuschwanstein Castle daydreams of his sleigh pulled to the heavens by dolphins and the winds of Zephyr and Aura as his idol, the Sun King Louis XIV, gives his blessing as personified by the rising moon (Photo by Patrick Uy)
Memories of a Kingdom, the January 2014 window of FIRMA inspired by the school mistress Anna Leonowens’ stay in the court of Siam in the 1860s. Hand-painted Buddhist scrolls and lacquered deer flank a tableau of carved lacquer hsun-ok vessels with a painted wood panel of Phra Phikanet (Ganesh) on the wall and a Dong Son bronze drum on the floor
From Joyous Cross-Cultural Encounters, a chapter on the interiors of the authors’ home: A Qing carved and lacquered opium bed, Turkish lamps and Persian carpets mix happily with French Rococo furniture and portraits at the Orientalist peacock salon

“The Art of Window, Display, and Design” will be available in major bookstores, select art galleries and AC+632 at Greenbelt 5 in late March and will be sold at an affordable price of P550. To reserve your copies, please email [email protected].

Photos from Ricky Toledo.