Maybelline Te of Snug Furniture & Frou La La Blog
Spotlight on Design interviews the energetic, vibrant, fascinating and multi-talented furniture designer, Creative Director of Snug Furniture and author of the popular lifestyle blog “Frou La La”, Maybelline Te.
Tell us a little about yourself, the “Snug Furniture” business venture and your lifestyle blog, “Frou La La”.
Interior Design was my primary career choice. But coming from an entrepreneurial family, it was de rigueur to have a business degree (Bachelors in Business Management, University of the Philippines). After a full time six year stint with the family furniture manufacturing company in Cebu, I went to The Art Institute of Charlotte for my Bachelors in Interior Design and graduated last June.
I love what I do and I’m thankful for everything that I’ve been blessed with. My work is my passion so I’m lucky that my interests and work intertwine harmoniously. I take pleasure in travel, art, museums, books, good food, jewelry, and fashion.
As Creative Director of Snug Furniture, a modern furniture company launching in May 2010 at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, the focus is on starting up and getting prepared for our launch. Living the adage “to whom much is given, much is required”, Snug aims to launch a charity program espousing proper education of less privileged children in the Philippines. After all, a good education is a basic human right. Snug Furniture is a collaboration between my business partner and me. We both grew up in the furniture business and met at a furniture showroom. If people had each other at “hello”, we had each other at mortise and tenon joints. We appreciate traditional furniture and remain attached to family heirlooms and antiques, but wanted to introduce some modern styles to refresh the look and reflect today’s eclectic lifestyle. We are working with other designers and also coming up with our own. Starting up in this economy makes us more cautious so we are approaching it grassroots style. With our combined manufacturing and retail experience, we plan to offer medium to high categories to the interior design trade and would be thankful if a few retailers would pick us up.
The Frou La La blog was born about four years ago on a tropical night in the hills of Maria Luisa Estate Park, I was mindlessly turning the pages of a coffee table book to the sound of the cicadas. A ruffled hot pink tulle skirt emerged from the page and all I could utter was, “froulala!” (frou frou + ooh la la = froulala)
It was one of those moments that left an indelible imprint upon my imagination. “Froulala” embodies all the experiences, things and aspirations that have inspired and captivated my heart, soul and creativity. I would like to thank social media maven Leslie Carothers and bespoke stationery designer and domestic goddess extraordinaire Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo for encouraging me to take the plunge into blogging.
Frou La La products
I had been creating, buying things from travels and putting gift packages together to give to friends and business associates every holiday season. A yearly ritual that would start in the fall and sometimes later, much to the chagrin of our workshop.
By creating personal and themed gift packages that weren’t produced anywhere, I made up for the en masse factor. An effort to lessen my carbon footprint was also taken since I tried to create something out of the scraps from our furniture production. By some twist of fab fate, friends started ordering some of these glitter critters for gifts, wedding and party souvenirs.(Images from left to right: Starlight sand bright -Starfish and sand dollar in gold and silver leaf; Wedding Singer napkin ring/souvenir, Maybelline calls it the “ wedding singer since it has appeared in three wedding receptions (two in Portugal and one in Montreal)”; and La Fleur de Milan, Maybelline describes the design process “the leather flower was salvaged from an old belt that best friend, Debbie Palao, brought me from one of her trips to Milan. I updated it with some horn and smooth/textured gold tinged druzy chalcedony”.)
|Maybelline Te’s Design Project Open House|
What inspired you to pursue furniture design, as well as your blog?
I attribute family influence, curiosity and a Third World perspective to my drive to create. Growing up, we had a textile store and my grandmother was always making us something with her Singer machine. My parents are both creative. My father experiments with materials and designs furniture aside from being an astute entrepreneur. My mother is adept at needlework and has an innate talent in putting things together. I was always at our furniture factory before I worked there professionally so there was never a dull moment being an all around girl. I used to wish I had more play time like my friends but in hindsight, all those times spent in the factory have been invaluable.
When one possesses a Third World perspective, nothing goes to waste so in the Philippines, people try to find many uses for one material. The coconut is a good example. It has about 20 uses as food and/or product.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Everywhere. People, places, things, memories, experiences and [from] within.
Tell us about a favorite home decorating or remodeling project.
I recently helped my cousin redo her small New York city apartment on the Upper East Side. I just guided her through some paint decisions and bought five pieces of furniture at the Boyles sale here in North Carolina. Since it was her 40th birthday, I sent along a pair of Century chairs from my own stash as a gift. The place was transformed. It was a great change of energy for her and the cat, they’re loving it! Not bad for a quick $1500 makeover.
What’s your personal design style? Has it evolved over time?
I was featured as one of the 10 most stylish women in Mega Magazine (Philippine fashion bible) in September 2003. The writer described my style as “Precision Eclecticism” after seeing my room and wardrobe. I thought that was the best way to simplify my style. I have evolved in that I’ve become more confident in my choices but the imprint is there. There is juxtaposition and deconstruction at play hoping to achieve a look that’s uncontrived and casual luxe.
Many of us have a product we bought for our home-that now makes us think-”what was I thinking” – do you have one?
I’ve already given away what I don’t want. I have become pretty good at editing my things especially not having a home. I used to buy more with the future in mind, but now I try to stay in the present. Whether I am shopping at Target or the St. Ouen Flea Market, I pretty much can hone in on the essential or “it’s-to-die-for-i-must-have-it” purchases.
Describe your dream room.
A dream Library with:
- A bookcase wall for all my beloved books, vintage tomes and a rolling ladder since I’m petite.
- A couple of taxidermied beauties and/or natural curiosities from Deyrolle.
- His and Hers Snug reading chairs that I would like to custom design according to our sizes.
- Henna accent table from Snug Furniture.
- Aluminum Sawhorse Desk from Irwin Feld Design.
- Snug custom tufted sofa in buttery leather
- Lucite trunk from Serge de Troyer.
- Turquoise shagreen bar cabinet from my friend Garrison Rousseau.
- Arc Classical Garden Toile wallpaper.
- A pared down version of Solange Azagury-Partridge’s jeweled chandelier
From left to right, Maybelline’s favorite things: “Rare golden cowrie shells my Uncle Manuel gave me. He asked someone to dive for them while we were boating near Suluan Island; Beautiful diamonds my father surprised me with on my 21st birthday, he picked me up from school out of the blue and took me to our jeweler’s to pick out stones for a necklace, ring and earrings; Calla Lillies, Keel’s simple diary in red, discovered at the Dia:Beacon shop but you can get them at Amazon. Great for keepsakes and gifts;Kudu horns and the like; Tea from Mariage Freres; Yolo Colorhouse Air.06; Monogrammed stationery; and statement footwear like Miu Miu Baroque carved platforms.”
What’s your favorite color or paint swatch?
Favorite color is turquoise, but I’ve been gravitating towards Yolo Colorhouse Air.06 for a year now.
What are your favorite pieces of home décor from your home or elsewhere?
- Opium bed (don’t have a photo of mine but it looks similar to [the one pictured above])
- Scolecite from Poona, India by way of Astro Gallery of Gems in NYC
One day I would like to add these:
- Kyle Bunting hide rug.
- Blue Coral centerpiece from 1st dibs.
- Antique Philippine carved wood doors.
What’s your favorite room at home? Why is it your favorite?
I’m a nomad for the time being. When I am back from Florida for the holidays,I hope to move into a rental home in Hickory, North Carolina. Before I moved here three years ago, I stripped my room off in my father’s house (in Philippine tradition, one doesn’t leave the family coop until marriage but that’s slowly changing now). Gave most away.
The only photo of my favorite room is from a Cebu magazine published in 2003. I designed the platform bed with an upholstered leather headboard and nightstand. Fuss free. Later on, I had the bed refinished in Wenge, installed brushed aluminum cubes as night stands and a bookcase, modern chandelier, an opium bed to replace a rattan chair and ottoman. White walls,wood parquet ceilings and hardwood floors. I was over-stimulated at the factory all day and had a crazy social life. My simple bedroom was a welcome reprieve. It was the perfect place to do yoga and meditation with Tulsi, my guru on Saturdays and Pilates with Michel, thrice a week. A place of restoration and growth.
Who are your favorite designers?
- Bill Sofield, he once said: “Whether it’s lacquer or Lucite,” he says, “my work is grounded in craft and materiality.” I appreciate and can relate to this particular statement as well as his view on taxidermy.
- Clodagh for her versatility,life enhancing designs, and materials.
- Steven Gambrel for his polished restraint.
- Kelly Wearstler for her fearless approach.
What are your favorite blogs or home design/improvement websites?
- All The Best Blog for wonderful profiles on style makers.
- Habitually Chic for fabulous features on interiors, art & films, fashion.
- ABCD Designs for amazing passion for life and you feel her vibrance through the food, decor, and nesting posts in creative graphics.
- Apartment Therapy for great product information, house tours and sales.
- Freshome for eye candy when it comes to international homes and products.
What are your favorite television shows, magazines, and/or books?
I hardly watch TV, does Jeopardy count? enjoy foreign films.
- Magazines: Elle Decor, Vogue, Elle, Wallpaper, I.D., Interior Design, New York Magazine, The Economist
- Books by: Paulo Coehlo, Henry Miller, Shel Silverstein, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Design and business books, biographies of interesting people in art, business & politics, and poetry by Rumi,Hafiz & Rilke
Do you have a decorating, design or remodeling tip you’d like to share with The Decorating Diva.com readers?
I love this quote from Chuck Palahniuk:
“You buy furniture.You tell yourself,this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life.Buy the sofa,then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong,at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled.Then the right set of dishes.Then the perfect bed.The drapes.The rug.Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest,and the things you used to own,now they own you.”
My decorating tip has nothing to do with the physical aspect. I’ve been to many beautiful and expensive homes that have no soul. There is a disconnect between the owner and its inhabitants. Whereas, love filled homes emanate great energy even in a mild state of dishevelment. The role of a designer is to enhance the personality and lifestyle of its client but not take over.
Continuously Evolve. Know when to Detach. Be yourself. Have fun.
Resources for Maybelline Te’s Favorite Things & Dream Room Decor:
- Snug Furniture
- Irwin Feld Designs
- Serge De Troyer
- Garrison Rousseau
- Outlaw and Outlaw Wallpaper
- Solange Azagury-Partridge
- Kyle Bunting
- Yolo Colorhouse
- 1st Dibs
- Astro Gallery of Gems
Website: Snug Furniture
Facebook: Become a fan of Snug Furniture
All images copyright of respective owners.
We’d like to thank Maybelline Te for sharing her fascinating and vibrant design inspired life, advice and gorgeous decor finds with The Decorating Diva.com readers.