Anton R. Mendoza

With more than a two decades of experience as an interior designer, Anton R. Mendoza is recognized for his innovative design solutions and accurate interpretations of his clients' lifestyles. In one of the parking alleys of Ecology Village in Makati, a red mod chair sits lonely against an exotic backdrop of three traditional vintage pieces. The front door is refurbished to give an expect-the-unexpected warning of what lies inside. Welcome to Anton Mendoza’s world.

Inside the living room, one is drawn towards the corner where Sumo, the book by well-known fashion photographer Helmut Newton, stands. It has it’s own stainless steel book rest specially designed by Philippe Starck. Its publisher Benedikt Taschen initially priced the book at $1,500.00 per copy, but since Newton’s death, has upped the price to $5,000.00. It’s a high price for a statement as grand.

As if on cue, Mendoza depends his staircase dressed in a crisp white shirt, brown linen pants and sandals. Grandson of former Senate President Eulogio Rodriguez, Mendoza had the formula for a successful future: proper upbringing and the resources for a good education.

Asked to define good design, Mendoza replies. “There is no such thing as bad design. It’s all about finding the right eye to appreciate it.”

”Beauty is a cultural thing,” he continues. “The cheekbones of a Caucasian only look good because that’s what we were taught.”

Of course, there are those who have proven to be exceptional in design. He names Lindy Locsin, Lor Calma, Ramon Antonio and Philippe Starck as his biggest inspirations.”

”Philippe Starck is one designer who has surpassed boundaries, changed proportions and influenced the world,” he says.

Mendoza’s design philosophy aims to fully absorb the needs and wants of his clients. “It’s really about me being able to attain their vision. As I like to say to then, ‘It all starts with a vision. Not mine, but yours.’”

He is educator, consultant and project manager in each of his clients’ homes. “My clients become my best friends, and I do get depressed when a project is over.”

One such client is Manny Pangilinan, whom he fondly calls “Architect” because he is considered chief architect in a current project, investment and management company First Pacific Company in Hong Kong. He met Pangilinan through another client and friend Lauren Legarda. Another favorite client is couple Fred and Keri Uytengsu, who wanted to focus on the comfort of everyone in their home.

”Contrary to the standard, they made sure even their household help had their own lounge area,” says Mendoza, and he advocates exactly this — being able to empathize with everyone from all walks of life.

If there’s one thing Mendoza believes in it is in empowering his staff “I told one of my employees to pursue her passion because she will never be happy unless she does.”

Mendoza is a workaholic who is passionate about his career. “Working is like breathing. You cannot stop and be idle,” he says. When not designing, he art directs for photo shoots, produces fashion shows and does landscaping. “I love creating the environment,” he exclaims.

After a few minutes with him, it becomes clear that Mendoza is a grounded and spiritual person, as well. “I went to Nepal for Christmas a few years ago to find the meaning of life,” he narrates. “When you go to Nepal, it’s all about seeing Mount Everest. I went from resort to resort asking which peak had the perfect view of Everest.”

But with the climate and altitude change, he began having difficulty breathing. “Is this what it means to go high in life?” it occurred to him then. That was the first of may lessons he learned thousands of feet above sea level.

”That trip changed my life,” he says. “I believe that, in the end, I am answerable to the one up there for the talent I was given, and I have to justify how I used it. If all I can tell Him is that I slept and partied well, that wouldn’t be good, would it?”

from "Designers of The Rich and Famous", Lifestyle Asia, June 2006