Run by Jeremy Guiab and Gary-Ross Pastrana, Bespoke is an enterprise that conceptualizes and builds commissioned designs: showrooms, home décor, furniture and art pieces. Surrounded and admired by many in the local art industry, Guiab argues against the common notion that he is an artist; he is more of an enabler. “Art is purely just to make something. In design, you have in mind the client and the people who are going to use the object. Unlike art, you don’t really care what the object is going to be used for,” he says.
Bespoke not only manufactures pieces but also empowers local artists by serving as a lab where they can experiment with new materials and concepts.
The space is a sprawling, high-ceiling warehouse hidden somewhere in Cubao. Concert speakers stack up against a wall on one side and on the other, a yellow, wooden prism stretches around eight feet wide and stands one story high, levered with a big hollow cube in the middle. In between, craftsmen and carpenters thump and plod away in separate areas, expertly working on glass, wood, iron and plaster. Guiab walks over to a mold of a tuna fish hanging by strings from the ceiling, ready to be painted. “It’s for a new sushi restaurant,” he explains.
He guides us up a spiral staircase to a loft overlooking the whole warehouse. A balcony immediately welcomes us, reminiscent of a DJ’s booth overlooking an arena because of the audio mixer resting on the table. To the left is a room made out of what looks like a broken body of a commercial airplane, its windows still intact. To the right is the main office, an air- conditioned glass box filled with all kinds of objets d’art, from exquisite deer taxidermy to utterly strange toys from Japan. One of them reads “Anal Smell,” but remains unopened.
An iMac sits on the corner desk, and behind it is a view of the workspace downstairs. Artworks by Tanya Villanueva and Louie Cordero line the walls. Natural light seeps in through the windows, but oversized Anglepoise and Flos lamps give the room a more mysterious air. Photography, art and design books neatly line the shelves. At the far end of the room is a long wooden mahogany table where Pastrana is working on his laptop; he looks up and greets the oncomers. Also on the long table are dozens of lit candles and stuffed crows facing opposite directions. A crocodile skull with its mouth open nonchalantly sits on the floor beside a real human skull, housed in a glass box. In the middle is a glass cylinder covered in plastic. “Look closer,” Guiab nudges. It is a real human brain, suspended in formaldehyde.
Like all good hosts, he offers to play some music. He walks to the huge wooden prism, and bends over to fix some wiring. He presses a button, and the prism immediately blasts The Fixx’s “One Thing Leads to Another.”