Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gus* Modern - furniture functionality and style wrapped in simplicity

Modern, simple, versatile, functional, classy....

That's my type of furniture. Something visitors and family can sit on without my having to grit my teeth out of fear that they could soil and spoil a very expensive piece of furniture.

In my corner of Metro Manila, I recently discovered that a Toronto-based modern furniture company - Gus* Modern - had set up shop. The young couple that brought Gus* here said they come from a traditional Chinese family involved in the traditional businesses but they found themselves more interested in furniture and fell in love with the simplicity and functionality of Gus*. They are now the first international dealer of the brand outside the US and Canada.

The first Gus* shop was set up at the Ground Floor of the Residences in Greenbelt last December 2010. Riding on the success of that shop, the first branch called Design Pod was set up just last February 2012 in Greenhills.

What strikes you first about Gus* when you see it is how simple it looks. Maybe it won't catch the eye of those who go for more ornate furniture but Gus* is perfect for minimalist and practical furniture lovers. 

Gone are the days of homes that had elaborate, expensive furniture that guests could not freely sit on anyway for fear of soiling them. I remember wondering why I'd visit homes and find sofas wrapped in plastic (do people still do that these days???).

Many modern homes now have occupants who are newlyweds on a tight budget as they start life together; young parents with very young babies, toddlers; or senior citizens who do not want to be bothered with high maintenance furniture. Space is a premium so furniture that convert (like sofa beds) are so practical too. Gus* addresses this market and just about anyone who wants practicality, functionality, simplicity and the classy-look all rolled up into one.

Here are a few pieces that demonstrate functionality.

Prairie nested tables are great modern pieces that look like a sculpted piece of art when placed beside each other but can function as 3 separate tables when there are guests.

3-piece Prairie Nested Tables (when joined to look like one)

The same Prairie Nested Tables taken apart

Prairie nested table legs are made of solid oak

Monday, March 19, 2012

Human Nature now has a flagship store!

My family is slowly but surely moving out of a chemical-filled lifestyle into one that incorporates organic and natural products and this includes the consumer products we use. We're not at 100%, maybe not even at 50%, but my kids and I are becoming more conscious about the choices we make.

One brand that is very much present at home is Human Nature. My daughters and I have been using Human Nature products in place of some of our usual cosmetics. Recently, my daughter and I got the chance to visit the Human Nature Flagship Store - their very first concept store - in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

Anna Meloto-Wilk, President of Human Nature, welcomed us and gave a brief background on how Human Nature came about.

Designed by two young and talented Filipina architects (Mau Adraneda and Joyce Angara), the interiors were made to look like an enchanted forest in the midst of a concrete jungle.

Forest ambience, beautiful layout, warm lights

Products laid out around the trunk of the "tree"

Nice idea! Products arranged in heart shapes!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Magnum Ice Cream indulgence is in town!

I was about to start this post with a description of the ice cream being launched but last night, as I was typing away, my older son came into the room. He saw the press kit beside me with an M logo on the front and he immediately exclaimed, “Hey, Magnum!” That was when I remembered why this brand of ice cream sounded familiar.

Two years ago. My son and some of his schoolmates had just come home from several weeks in China on a school-sponsored overseas program. Over the next few days, as he continued regaling us with stories of their adventures, one thing stood out. He and his friends had discovered a favorite comfort food during those days away from family and school – Magnum Ice Cream.

Of course, it was natural for me to be excited when the recent event I was invited to turned out to be the launch of this very brand in the Philippines!

The newly launched Magnum Ice Cream is a smooth and creamy ice cream bar coated with a thick layer of Belgian chocolate. It comes in 3 variants - Classic, Almond and Truffle. Belgian chocolate is one of the best worldwide. All other chocolates are usually measured against this gourmet standard. When you hear of a Belgian chocolatier, you know that person adheres to traditional techniques and uses the best quality ingredients. Most expensive and luxurious chocolates in the market use Belgian chocolate.

What is an ice cream launch without a taste test? Of course, everyone got a chance to try out all the Magnum Ice Cream variants. I did not have room in my tummy for them all so I just chose Almond.

Here we go...

Lots of almonds! Yum, yum, yum...

You can tell when an ice cream bar's chocolate layer is well made. When you bite into it, the chocolate covering does not crumble all over, dripping you with chocolate and vanilla goo all over. Instead, you hear what they call the signature crack. A piece of Belgian chocolate enters your mouth first, followed by a smooth and creamy vanilla ice cream filling. That's exactly how I describe my first Magnum experience.

Maybe you're thinking that because it has Belgian chocolate, it is expensive. Surprise, surprise. Each ice cream bar will only cost PhP 50! And it will be distributed in supermarkets and retail stores, including 7-Eleven.

The 3 Magnum variants being introduced

Magnum Ice Cream is a collaborative effort between Unilever (Magnum is its biggest global brand) and RFM, the company behind the Selecta ice cream brand. RFM and Unilever said that they really worked hard to make this brand available to everyone at an affordable price. I found out that it’s very popular in European and Asian countries where it has a presence. Known Hollywood celebrities have endorsed it such as Eva Longoria, Eva Mendes, Ivanka Trump and Rachel Bilson. At the launch, we were introduced to Magnum’s local brand ambassadors that include Liz Uy, Solenn Heusaff (endorser), Rajo Laurel, Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Erwan Heusaff and Raymond Gutierrez.

Some of Magnum's brand ambassadors

My son and his friends will probably be some of the happiest boys now that their favorite comfort food in China is available locally. And those of you have have tried Magnum during your trips abroad can now have it any time you want without having to go out of the country.

As for me, I am looking forward this weekend to trying the Classic and Truffle variants in my freezer before deciding which one is my favorite flavor.