This week on the journal we visit the home of interior designer and creative Vianca Soleil. Vianca left the city for a slower and more simple life, buying a piece of land on a small island in Romblon, Phillipines. We stumbled across her instagram and were instantly drawn in by her ethereal and dreamlike imagery. Right now Vianca is building a beach home with her family, they are planning to turn into an eco resort. Daily life consists of looking after the property, construction, improvements and developing design ideas — while making sure they have sufficient provisions as there are no establishments on the island. Here we talk about her island life, designing her dream beach home and daily rituals.
What inspired you to move to Romblon?
Romblon really stood out for its unique marine life and abundance in marble. After a month of hunting around the province, I decided on a piece of property in the small island of Puro, with the idea of living a slower life by the sea, in a home filled with marbles.
How do you spend your days?
Since we're still in the construction phase, most of my time is spent looking after the property. I supervise all the work and develop design ideas. On weekends, we go for hikes and explore nearby islands.
Do you have a morning / bed time ritual?
Both rituals consist of really just looking out to the sea. Much of my routine depends on the tide. In the morning, I roughly plan the day's work while watching the sun rise and before bed, I spend it again by the shore, reflecting on the day's accomplishments.
Tell us about your home, do you have a favourite area within it?
Our home is comprised of huts and my favourite would have to be the living hut. The entire flooring is fine white sand and when the tide is high, the sofa is just a couple of meters away from the shore. It's so dreamy.
When designing your beach home, was there anything important to you that you wanted to include?
It was important for me to capture the essence of the Filipino island life which is all about living simply in a natural setting, with the help of the sea. The design approach is easy and light, mixed with a bit of modernism and risk. I try to achieve this by making everything as raw as possible, playing with proportions and letting pass the little imperfections. We also make use of materials readily available on the island. For example, we used sand and marble bits from the shore for most surfaces. The kitchen hut is also made entirely of coconut palm and timber.
Are you reading or listening to anything at the moment?
I haven't had the chance to start a book at the moment but we just received the art and travel books I bought in Manila for our mini library. I enjoy scanning them in my free time and my favourite is Memories of a Lost World, a collections of magic lantern slides of different cultures from as early as 1870. I listen to alot of New Wave lately and still very much into Dancehall by The Blaze.
What do you love most about living on Puro Island?
Puro is the Filipino word for pure and true enough, this place is untouched. I love its intimate feel. Also, it's small enough to not need a road for cars.
How do you like to spend your downtime?
I enjoy setting up picnics for friends and family. Once the construction finishes and we are fully settled, I'd like to get back into painting.
"Our home is comprised of huts and my favourite would have to be the living hut. The entire flooring is fine white sand and when the tide is high, the sofa is just a couple of meters away from the shore. It's so dreamy."
Since moving to the island, how has your cooking adjusted to the environment you are in?
My supplies are quite limited because this island has no establishments. I find myself cooking very simple meals lately. A lot of freshly caught seafood bought from neighbours who are fishermen. I also prepare some uni and clams which can be found on our shore. The best part is that they are for free!
What are some go-to recipes you like to make?
Clams with angel hair pasta and fish curry using coconuts from our property. Sometimes I like to experiment with different variations of cream based pasta using what's left in the kitchen.
"No man is indeed an island.."
What are some of your favourite objects?
This giant antique clam shell given by a neighbour, the very first hat I learned to weave and a stack of rolled buri leaves which I turned into a side table.
We noticed your family is involved in community work, can you tell us more about this?
My father was a doctor and a public servant who really dedicated his life to helping others. Since he passed, my family and I try to continue his legacy by having medical missions in remote towns, with the help of my mother and four siblings who are also doctors. Recently we had a medical mission in Puro island. The residents are warm and kind though it's hard not to notice that they struggle with their livelihood. Since moving here, we're able to provide jobs and I hope we can continue to help uplift this small community with other projects in the near future.
Can you tell us more about your eco-resort?
I've decided to turn our beach home into a small eco-resort because the ideas were growing bigger and bigger. The desire to build our own piece of paradise has evolved into creating a setting for like-minded individuals to slow down and go back to the basics. No man is indeed an island and sometime this year, I'm able to share this place with you.
All photographs by Vianca Soleil
View Vianca's daily life here
Shop Vianca's Penney + Bennett picks here