STA. ROSA, LAGUNA—The name sounds Italian but the message is eloquently spoken in French, “Notre maison est votre maison.” (Our home is your home) reads one of the blackboard signs inside the store.
Contrary to initial impressions, Lucina (pronounced as Lusina not Luchina) is not an Italian term for chandelier (that happens to be one of their products) but rather, is the name of the founder Joel Salazar’s mother who has Yugoslavian origins. His father has Filipino—Spanish blood, hence the combination of both sides, possibly explains his natural talent in developing European styles plus the fact that he belongs to a family of painters.
Salazar’s business partner, Paul Baes, acts as the Operations Manager and runs the store. He graduated as a nurse but eventually got involved with the interior design practice of Salazar.
The products in the store consist of home furnishings collected over the years. Baes relates that five years worth of furniture pieces ended up in three rented bodegas that in the end, they decided to open the store as an alternative. Baes finds himself personally attached to the unique items that he admits having a hard time parting with the goods when a ready buyer starts to inquire.
“It hurts somehow because they are a fruit of your passion, because you love it.” He explains that one-of-a kind pieces are quite hard to replace.
Aside from the personal collection, both partners work at producing handcrafted furniture, a sharp contrast from the mass-produced goods imported from other countries. Their strength lies in finishing work where they are able to reproduce European design elements, such as French country finishes or baroque style pieces —all with the help of a few Filipino craftsmen.
The store accepts custom made orders for furniture and requires a lead-time of around 60 days for a single piece. To cite, a bar cabinet using mahogany wood can be produced for P15,000 to P20,000, complete with elaborate finishes. Their expertise also includes painting and sculpture, plus re-creating heirloom pieces with that faded antique look.
As a young entrepreneur, Baes has learned a few things. “The second floor is not always the best space to rent. It’s hard to ask people to come up,” he says. Nevertheless, he is also careful not to place the store in an overcrowded area. He wants to retain its unique character. According to him, they are careful not to make furniture more than three of a kind. “We want every piece to be special so we don’t mass produce,” he emphasizes.
Lucina also sells outsourced ceramic dinnerware, wall plaques and other curio items for the shabby chic. For more details, visit http://www.lucina.ph.