HOME BODY: URBAN COMFORT 2010

Phillipine Daily Inquirer
By Bayani San Diego Jr

No, filmmaker Yam Laranas insists, he isn’t bothered by ghosts and other restless spirits in the condo unit he shares with his wife, TV exec Gin de Mesa, their 7-year-old son Elias Lukas and 8-year-old pet Chow Obi.

Although he is known as the director of thrillers (like the latest GMA Films offering “The Road” and other scream fests like “Patient X,” “Sigaw” and its Hollywood remake “The Echo”), Yam doesn’t thrive on the dark side.

Based on the interiors of his Makati home, Yam prefers the bright and breezy to the grim and gloomy.

Light comes into the Makati pad freely, via several wide glass windows.

Yam tore down walls to make the entire space more free-flowing. “There are no borders. This house has no center. There are only three of us here; we want to be able to see each other

no matter where we are,” he says.

With the help of architect-designer Popi Laudico, the Laranases maximized the 197-square-meter space—integrating work, rest and play in one comfort zone.

Yam explains: “Even if Gin is resting in the bedroom, I’m editing in the home office and our son Elki is watching TV in the living room, we still feel like we’re spending quality time together.”

Folding glass doors with art-deco wrought-iron grillwork separate the bedroom from the rest of the house. “Since the glass is textured, we still have privacy at night,” he says.

He describes the overall design concept as “minimalist.”

Framed posters of his past films are displayed along with those of the couple’s favorite foreign movies. At the foyer, guests are greeted by a poster of Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” part of Gin’s collection. In the bedroom is one of Ridley Scott’s landmark sci-fi film, “Blade Runner,” one of Yam’s favorites.

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The poster of his all-time fave, Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange,” is in the bathroom. “But my wife concealed the irreverent blurb on the poster,” he says.

Proudly displayed in his home office is a poster of Sergei M. Eisenstein’s 1925 silent movie, “The Battleship Potemkin,” a gift from film archivist and scholar Teddy Co.

The posters of his works—from his Viva Films debut, “Balahibong Pusa,” to his National Geographic documentary, “Asia’s Titanic”—are lined up along the corridor.

“I had a hand in the design of most of these,” Yam says. “I wrote the poster blurb for ‘Balahibong Pusa.’” Also prominently showcased is the Korean version of the poster for “The Echo.”

He reports that “Asia’s Titanic” has been translated into over 20 languages and that “The Echo” has been shown in countries as far away as Russia, Portugal and Colombia.

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While Yam’s new home is imbued with warmth by earth colors and wooden pieces, his old apartment was the exact opposite. “Our old place was colorful, inspired by our trip to Notting Hill in the United Kingdom,” he recalls. “It had lots of red and mustard yellow … and that was long before the Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant movie was shown.”

Moving to the new pad two years ago, the couple went back to basics. “We wanted all-white walls to make the place look neat. We also installed narra flooring,” Yam says.

The living room centerpiece is a sofa from the Italian furniture store Natuzzi, matched with an abaca carpet from Soumak. The round chair at the foyer and the narra dining table are from Soumak, too.

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In the bedroom is a quiet nook where Gin does paperwork. Yam says he was drawn to the queen-sized bed, “simple and Asian,” which he saw at the Ethan Allen store.

Yam made sure to set up a work station at home, too. “I prefer to work at night,” he says, “also because I don’t want my son to see the gory and scary scenes from my movies.”

At the time of the Living Stars visit, Yam was checking out in his home office the Blu-ray edition of “The Road,” which opens in theaters November 30.

He does post-production on Blu-ray, he said, because it allows him to spot mistakes in the grading, effects and graphics more quickly and efficiently.

One of the perks of living in the middle of Makati, he says, is that everything is within reach—especially the advertising and post-production companies he frequently works with. “Advertising is my bread-and-butter,” he explains.

It’s not all work at the home office, which also has a comfy lounge chair where he takes it easy between jobs, watching one movie after another on a 50-inch Sony LED web TV.

Among the DVDs in his collection are “Star Wars,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Exorcist,” “The Omen,” “The Hurt Locker,” as well as docus like “U2: Rattle and Hum” and shows like “Stomp Live.”

Occupying a place of honor in the office are several industry awards (for his work as cinematographer and editor)—including his “unique” Orbit trophy (for “Sigaw”) from the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film.

He keeps his stash of “Star Wars” action figures—Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Obi Wan Kenobi—in the office, with his extensive book collection.

“My son doesn’t play with these collectibles because he knows that he’ll inherit them when he turns 10,” Yam says. “For his birthday, he asked for a Lego ‘Star Wars’ set.”

Yam and Elki bond through their love for toys. The father proudly points out that the boy takes good care of his toys, which are kept neatly arranged.

Yam and Elki each have their own PlayStation units. They also enjoy watching movies together—preferably on Blu-ray.

They installed a glass board on a wall in the kid’s room so that Elki can indulge his love for sketching and writing. Elki displays his drawings on a cork board on a wall in the office. The cork board wall is a good idea for a bustling household, Yam notes; it allows him and Gin to keep track of their son’s activities and school work.