MEGA Magazine
by Annie Z. Nisce
photographed by Philip Escudero
architecture and interiors by Melinda P. Laudico


When you've got an artist for a client and she happens to be your own mother, this could easily mean handling a real time bomb. Luckily, young architect Melinda "Popi" Laudico turns out to be spunkier than mama ever was. Close dealings with real explosive egos of the celebrity kind while working with Cuban interior and furniture designer Waldo Fernandez in LA has toughened her up for future jobs. And Popi literally ended up with the office floor - not to mention the walls and the ceilings - all to herself.

Everything in MASTABA, Inc., an architectural and interior design company that exports home accessories, is a work of art. That's about all Popi's proud mom could say. The office's collection of artworks by Alfredo Liongoren, Roberto Chabet, Gerry Tan and Constancio Bernardo obviously are; but with the meeting of two generations of creative minds - mom's personal and professional requirements seen through a daughter's eyes - function suddenly takes on an aesthetic twist.

"White is versatile, flexible," begins Popi. "It's the best color to show off your products. And besides, if the company will come up with new items, then all we have to do is replace the old products with new ones. The space still works."





Bronze plate excellently blends with the interiors.  Oh, by the way, it's for sale.






No first timer can tell the real office accessories from the display samples. And no one's saying unless you ask. The clean and orderly space allows a harmonious display of select accessories. And the choice of finish and wall fixtures cleverly matches the basic Filipino flavor of the export items on display. One is pleasantly free of the cramped, commercial feeling that standard showrooms usually give.

"I like natural materials," says Popi, referring to the office's capiz doors, old wood tables in natural finish and rattan accents. "But I take elements from these materials and then place them out of the usual context. I don't usually like defining my design style, but I would say it's a fresh, contemporary approach to available materials." One look at those cleverly rigged katsa (canvas) curtains and decorative woven rattan covering the air vents, and I can't help but agree.







The office conference room, where all the ideas come out, contains all-Filipino artworks and designs for inspiration to charge the creative mood.













You can take one out with you. A clever interplay of actual product samples and the proprietor's private collection. The rattan chairs, the old wood narra tables, the paper-mache desk accessories and the abaca rug are the items up for sale. The rug design won MASTABA the Best Floor Covering Award at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York last May.