1) Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, what inspired you to take up Interior Design?
Looking back, I remember falling in love with interior design at a young age. And just like how every passion starts, influence, mine was my mother, Lolita B. Cabanlet. I fondly remember her introducing it to me indirectly. I would watch HGTV and home improvement shows with her as our bonding. I recall being fascinated by the said shows. I would be amazed by the creativity that the team would exhibit as evidenced by the design solutions they would provide in their projects. This fascination progressed, when in the year 1998, I became my mother’s protégé. Her wisdom in product design became one of my solid foundations in my passion for my profession. Together we designed stationery and packaging items for export across the globe.
Being involved in the family business at a young age gave me the leanings to pursue something related to arts and design. Early on in high school, I was already researching about courses related to designing, and that is when I discovered about interior design. I thought to myself then, Interior design is such a profound course, overarching even, in relation to the concepts that I will be studying. I was then imagining the things that I will be learning, and the thought, I remember got me feeling thrilled and excited. Senior year came and together with this, college admission tests, and unlike other students who were still undecided, it was already a no brainer for me. I already knew what I want, and with this, the school that I needed to get into.
2) When did you establish Nicole Cabanlet Designs? Without delving into the privacy of your client names, can you mention some of your most successful and more prominent projects?
I began working as an independent Interior Designer in the year 2012 but Nicole Cabanlet Designs was established formally on the year 2018. The realization to formally launch my business name came as a need to express the identity of my craft and passion. Nicole Cabanlet Designs is operating for 2 years now, praise God. Together with my team, the recent and prominent projects that we have had includes the following: model units of a prominent uptown subdivision project, an Italian inspired café/resto, a Korean themed café/fast food and, a fast food and residential unit (both in Bacoor, Cavite) among others.
3) Can you mention here the services and products you offer? How do you maintain the quality of your work? Like do you do home installations of the products that your customers purchase or is it just the products that people purchase and they'll just DIY them back home? In terms of quality, where do your products come from? Imported or homemade? Do you have offer warranty or after-sales technical advice?
NICOLE CABANLET DESIGNS offer Interior Design and Fit-Out Services. This means that our offerings allows us to go through all the important stages or phases in Interior Design and Construction, starting with Preliminary Meetings, Schematic Design Phase, Design Development Phase, Contract Document & Coordination Phase, and Construction Phase.
We maintain the quality of work through collaboration, proper communication and establishment of good working relationship with our Industry Partners, Contractors and of course, our Clients. We also make sure that we only accept projects we can manage per quarter. And with clients being the heart of our every project, we make sure to follow through the Design Brief of the Client, knowing their design preferences, requirements, and their lifestyle.
When we do Interior Design and Fit-Out projects, we plan, design and construct from start to finish. Others would call it a Turn-Key project, where the Client would come in the reveal day seeing everything carefully laid out and installed into their liking (according to the approved plan and design).
We get our items from all over the country. And as much as possible we consider injecting Filipino aesthetic and sensibility to be relatable and to have a sense of place, there are times we get them overseas. We also embrace up cycling and re-purposing of items that seemed to have lost its original function but has the potential to have a new purpose. Like the drop light that we did for the Italian inspired resto/café at the bar area. It was made from repurposed empty wine bottles that the owner collected over the years.
We encourage Clients to always communicate with us their concerns even when the project has been turned over for a year to carefully assess the situation of the project concerns, and from there, we give necessary advises for the upkeep of the project.
4) Prior to COVID, the realty sector in CDO is booming. How many projects do you do in a year on average? As a practitioner in the industry, which part of CDO do you recommend settling in? Uptown? Eastern part? Western part? Why? Which do you prefer, in a gated subdivision or in a standalone property?
We do an average of 4-12 projects in a year, though ultimately, it will still depend on the magnitude of the project. The figure given can still go higher or lower. Aside from Turn-Key projects, we at Nicole Cabanlet Designs has also ventured into product design. In-fact we product design on an average of 30-40 collections bi-annually, and this is just for the family business alone, CDO Handmade Paper.
There are developments wherever in Cagayan de Oro City. As for my recommendation, meeting a lot of clients made me realize it was never about location, exclusivity, and others, it is more of personal preference and the feeling of safety and comfort the property brings to the owner(s).
5) Do you also do commercial and industrial spaces work too? Can you mention some of your successful projects in commercial space?
We do not limit to Residential projects, we accept commercial and hospitality projects as well. Aside from the projects mentioned earlier, we also have done design/construction work for Cabanlet & Cabanlet Law Office and Villa Salina Beach Resort in General Luna, Siargao Island to add to the list.
6) Do you also have clients outside CDO? Can you mention places e.g. Bukidnon, Butuan etc.
Yes we have had projects outside Cagayan de Oro. These are mostly Residential Projects in Camiguin, Malaybalay Bukidnon, Makati City and Bacoor Cavite.
7) How is COVID becoming a challenge in your business? How is COVID becoming a challenge in the local realty sector in general? How do you respond to these challenges to maintain the business?
No one could have anticipated this COVID19 pandemic and I know that most of us (if not all) are having difficulties adjusting in this trying time. At the start of this pandemic, several projects were at a halt, but now, a few has already resumed. Though very challenging, I believe that we have to embrace the new normal and find efficient ways and innovations to up or maintain the business.
In my observation, I think the realty development is slowly moving forward. Properties are high investment, depending on the type, but most don’t depreciate and investing on one especially when in its pre-development stage is still best. Nowadays, people are encouraged to work at home, and I think this is something the realty sector can work around with.
All in all, I must say that in our current state, I have observed that there is more togetherness and collaboration amongst colleagues and even with potential clients.
8) I understand that you have other businesses as well. Have you tried incorporating your other products into your designs?
Yes, I do and have, many times over. I use products from many local brands which carries stationery items, home décor, lamps and lighting. I get these items from CDO Handmade Paper, Tinabuan Crafts, and Tagolwanen Women Weavers in Malaybalay Bukidnon to name a few.
If noticed, (as much as possible) we infuse or inject Filipino aesthetic into every project to give a sense of place and relatability, but still it will be ultimately the clients decision. I for one am an advocate for Filipino arts and crafts.
9) Contact address/fb page/number for inquiries. Ah by the way, do you have a showroom for clients to drop by?
Our Office is at CDO Handmade Paper Showroom, Zone 1 Barra Opol, Misamis Occidental
For Product Design,Interior Design and Renovation inquiries you may contact us via our facebook account- https://www.facebook.com/NicoleCabanletDesigns and https://www.facebook.com/idrnicolebcabanlet/ and at these numbers 0916-751-8778.