When we speak of art, often what comes to mind are the standard forms: paintings, sculptures and the like.
Furniture as art rarely comes into mind.
That's usually the case with me. Until I went to Benjie Reyes' house, saw his furniture and got to speak with him at length over the span of a day.
Benjie is my mother-in-law's cousin. Mom and Dad (John's folks) have been to his house in Antipolo quite a few times, but John and I have never had the opportunity to go with them.
Today Mom invited me to go up to Antipolo with them, since she was going to "inaugurate" Benjie's new kitchen by teaching him and his daughter how to bake bread and make aligue pasta.
I jumped at the opportunity to see the house that my in laws always spoke about with such glowing terms.
When we arrived in Antipolo we pulled up to an unassuming gate with a lovely fence made of old weathered wood. We walked up a stone path with these great old railroad ties embedded in them, into the glass enclosed foyer/living room of his house which was also where his new pieces were on display.
And my mouth fell open.
First of all --- the house. It was all weathered wood, tegula tiles and big wide windows and glass. It was the house John and I always talked about building when a)we won the lotto, b) he became president of a major Philippine bank, or c) sold all our major organs.
And the furniture. The furniture. Beautiful chairs and tables. All wood. No nails (he uses dowels). All sinuous curves with interesting details. I was busy trying to figure out how to smuggle them to the van without anyone noticing until I realized that they weighed a ton! (he uses recycled hardwood)
Some of his sculptures were also on display (I have to confess --- I tripped over one of them --- oh the shame --- if I broke it I would have to give them my first born child).
He and his wife Caring were gracious enough to give me a tour of their home and I just spent most of the day following them around with my mouth open.
Their home was beautiful, breezy, calming and open --- much like Benjie and his wife who were really warm, wonderful people.
I wish I could post photos. But I was a little embarrassed to act like a tourist in their home, especially since we were "family".
But I promised to help work on their website so hopefully I can post a link of that soon so that you all can appreciate the beauty of his work.
What made the experience so much more meaningful is that Benjie and Caring actually walked me through most of the pieces around their home (they're having a retrospective of his work so they had a lot of them around the house today) and explained to me the history of each piece, his methodology, his inspiration and the science that goes into his craft.
Yes, the science.
You see, his pieces aren't just lovely to look at, they are super comfortable and ergonomic. That's saying a lot since his medium is wood and there are no cushions or other batting material. Just wood.
So a lot of thought goes into figuring out how to make pieces that are beautiful, sturdy and comfortable.
I felt so lucky to have the privilege of actually having the artist explain his pieces to me, firsthand.
I am so looking forward to working on their website. I feel inspired.
Who knows? May be they'll give me an employee discount? :-)