Fervent hunters of objets d’art and priceless curios travel the world in search of that elusive, extraordinary gem to add to their collection. It’s the thrill of the hunt that makes every unearthed piece—whether it be jewelry, antiques, fine art, or period décor—even more special. In a city as diverse and dynamic as Manila, the discerning design enthusiasts take their hunting queues from one authority, AC+632 in Greenbelt.
Imagined by purveyors of fine living, Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, AC+632 was built with the intention of bringing back the romance of the Old World. Its founders share, “We wanted to create a place where one can stop and smell the roses. We envisioned a space where visitors could give attention to the things that make life a little more elegant, more gracious.”
AC+632 is a romantic and more nostalgic incarnation of the design duo’s widely-beloved Firma. They explain, “The beginnings of AC actually had their roots at Firma where we showcase fine art and design as vital components for modern living. This carries over to AC+632, but with a more romantic and relaxed feeling that has a bit of nostalgia, recalling childhood memories of family dinners with heirloom silver, trips to the countryside with wicker picnic baskets, travels to exotic destinations collecting curiosities.” Other hand-picked items that convey this design narrative, with a mindset for sustainability, include heritage soaps from France, smokeless and dripless tapered candles, artisan made accessories and one-of-a-kind fine jewelry.
When ARAO decided it was time to “come home to Manila,” AC+632 was the obvious destination. As a space dedicated to “epitomizing our concept of home,” this design haven was ideal for showcasing ARAO’s take on modern classics using Philippine Golden South Sea Pearls. Ricky and Chito’s inspiring vision for AC+632 reaffirms this coming together of two like-minded brands. “Manila is our home so we thought why not something that represented our beloved city, but it couldn’t be the obvious names or associations because our merchandise mix spans different continents, cultures and styles, but chosen from the point of view of a Manileño who’s a citizen of the world. Manila has always been an entrepot where peoples and cultures mixed freely. The area code of the city finally came up as the best name: Area Code +632.”
As a Hong-Based brand with roots in the Philippines, ARAO was also the fitting addition to AC+632’s tightly curated collection. Ricky and Chito details, “Whatever we choose is what we ourselves would want. We always search for that unusual piece that catches our eye and has an emotional connection. The material and craftsmanship, of course, matters, so we are drawn to ateliers with a history of artisanal work. We are always on the lookout for fresh talent to design jewelry and accessories that follow time-honored traditions of fine workmanship while having a contemporary spirit.”
ARAO pieces now available at AC+632 are comprised of the timeless Golden South Sea pearl studs and pendants, the best selling Azula earrings with baroque pearls and sky blue topaz, as well as Dama Ko Lahi Ko tribute necklaces. Fluid core, or genderless pieces, are also front and center of the ARAO showcase in AC+632. These are headlined by versatile scarves from the Alchemy by ARAO X Bitagcol collection as well as Sinag and Sikat necklaces.
Ricky and Chito enthuse, “ARAO’s pieces check all the boxes for AC because they are classics that stand the test of time, using noble materials and created with the finest craftsmanship. They also have that romance of the Old World—Renaissance portraits and heirloom photos with women in pearl jewelry come to mind as well as childhood memories of our mothers and sisters wearing them in the most memorable moments of our lives. These associations with the past are updated for today’s modern woman with a purity of design that brings out the beauty of the Philippine South Sea Pearl. The fact that the ARAO line is also sustainable and ethically produced is a big plus.”
ARAO PICKS BY RICKY AND CHITO:
“We like the Dama Ko Lahi Ko pendant because it’s easy to wear while at the same time promoting pride in our Philippine heritage and craftsmanship.”
“The Andrea hook earrings are versatile, going easily from casual to formal, and showcase the pearl to best advantage.
“The Arachne is a beautifully designed brooch that’s fun and a conversation piece to liven up a look.”
AC+632 is located on the 2/F of Greenbelt 5, Legaspi Village, Ayala Center, Makati City. For more, follow them on @ac632.