“We were basically living in a warehouse before,” intimates Swim Philippines (the group that currently handles TOMS Philippines and Nothing But H2O) president Dimples La O of their previous office space along Alabang-Zapote Road. Sitting comfortably in Swim’s new digs (about a few kilometers down the road), the president had just finished talking about how the team tried to get away with painting their office building black in spite of the management’s regulations. “It’s a space where I want the team to have creative freedom; they can take their laptops and work downstairs, have meetings on the couch, and brainstorm in the pantry. I guess we just have to stay away from black paint,” quips La O.
The first office space located in Westgate (Alabang’s little lifestyle hub that closely resembles a town more than a mall), Foundry sits in the middle of a war zone of cuisines. From Sushi Ninja, Café Breton, Niel’s Kitchen, Alba, to Bugsy’s, it seems Foundry’s inhabitants are never without the happiest tummies. “Before we would live on just eating McDonald’s every single day,” shares the businesswoman, “Now, we’d have sushi sent to our office for merienda!”
Apart from the obvious benefits of setting up shop in Westgate, Foundry is eager to cement itself as a space for collaborations and ideas. “At first, we just wanted a space to present to different retailers. We had Shoe Salon here a few weeks ago and when they left Foundry that’s when we all realized it was almost nighttime,” says La O, “It’s just always good to invite people over.”
With an open layout that maximizes light and allows for easy communication, Foundry’s interiors, though bathed in an interesting mix of sunlight, wooden finishes, and cemented walls and floors, comes off as a blank space. “We didn’t want to dress it up too much,” muses La O while walking down the stairs as she told us of the building’s previous life as a restaurant. “There were tiles everywhere! We were just like, okay,” laughs La O, “these all have to go and it will just be a blank canvas.”
In line with TOMS Philippines and Nothing But H20’s brand philosophy of giving back, Foundry’s interiors are lined with a corporate anthem that declares, “We’re in the business to help improve lives.” That, and the high ceilings are decorated with snapshots of the ambassadors in villages around the world carrying out the Give Project. Displaying only the littlest hints of branding, Dimples La O reveals the lack of contrived vignettes and settings was meant for easy transformation. “It’s not just for us, it’s also for those who want to just collaborate and create,” she says of the curiously blank space.