Tomas Pearce is an international interior design firm that specializes in bespoke commercial and residential space companies, led by Melandro Quilatan and Tania Richardson. Together, they offer a complete range of commercial and residential interior design services. From Space Planning, Design Concept, Interior Design, and Decorating to Project Management and Construction Documents for new builds and luxury renovation projects. Best Interior Designers had the opportunity to talk to Melandro Quilatan in a very special interview to get to know more about his career and future plans in interior design.
Tomas Pearce: Exclusive Interview with Melandro Quilatan
Best Interior Designers: How did you get involved in the interior design Industry?
Melandro Quilatan: I’ve known since high school that my career options would lead me to a creative pursuit. In grade 13, I decided to visit various Post Secondary Schools offering Architecture, Interior Design, Graphic, and Fashion Courses to speak with the students currently enrolled. My objective was to get clarity from their perspective on the programs being offered from the respective institutions so that I could make the best decision for myself. In 1991, I graduated from Ryerson’s School of Interior Design in Toronto with my Bachelor of Applied Arts Degree. Early in my career working for a prominent firm, I met a colleague, my now business partner Tania Richardson. We clicked on all levels and it is this symbiotic chemistry between us that led us to build the team at Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting Inc. Tomas is her son’s middle name and Pearce comes from my side of the family 😊
Best Interior Designers: How would you describe your work style? Do you have any kind of signatures that help to identify your projects?
Melandro Quilatan: Our work style involves listening attentively to our clients wishes so that we can table design resolutions that they have not thought of themselves. The design process is lengthy and is very involved – we ensure that our clients, sites, contractors, trades, and consultants enjoy this process right along with us. Early in our careers, we have accepted that there will always be issues to resolve in every step of the design and construction process – so we strive to approach resolutions in a proactive and positive manner.
Marrying our design philosophies with that of our client’s programming is essential to the project’s success. We love a good design challenge so we welcome working within different types of aesthetics. There is no specific design style to summarize our body of work as we love all styles be it traditional, contemporary, rustic, transitional, modern, and every shade in between. The underlying signature of our completed work is its longevity, elegance, and polish – further reinforced by elated repeat clients.
Best Interior Designers: Being in love with our work is always the key to achieving better results. Are you in love with this job? What do you love most about being an interior designer?
Melandro Quilatan: We LOVE what we do! We have been blessed with the abilities to create something from nothing; to guide one’s perception of beauty; to develop lifetime relationships with clients, consultants, trades, suppliers, and other creatives. We get to play with the latest and greatest of our industry’s materiality and technology. We get to dream and fantasize – to have these inventions reach fruition. The best part of what we do for a living is that we get to witness our work enhance people’s lives by experiencing and owning our spaces.
Best Interior Designers: What is your philosophy on design and life?
Melandro Quilatan: Generally speaking, mutual respect, hard work, positivity, compassion, loyalty, and staying humble are immediate words that come to mind – words my parents taught me to govern myself by. I apply these traits to all aspects of my personal and professional life. Since design is my life – these philosophies apply to all circles of what makes me – me. Specifically speaking, design should be inspiring, unique, notable, it should enhance the safety, health, and wellness of all end-users, be aspiring, and socially responsible.
Best Interior Designers: Keep up to date on all the trends is essential for anyone who wants to conquer this market. In what ways do you keep current with new trends?
Melandro Quilatan: There is merit to being aware of current trends. Social media, online sites and sources are an easy way to keep tabs on what others are calling ‘on trend’. However we feel that applying them into our design equation is not necessarily a mandate. ‘Trends’ as the word depicts, is short lived or seasonal. As with fashion, a specific trend may currently be ‘hot’ but more often than not, it is not appropriate for everyone to follow.
What we do for our clients require deep financial investments therefore what we do must have longevity. Our goal really is to not necessarily follow trends but rather to be one of the elites setting them 😊
Best Interior Designers: Which major international events do you attend/follow to get the latest novelties?
Melandro Quilatan: We expect that our current local sales reps and suppliers are showing us in office the ‘up-to-the-minute’, but as designers it is important to continually build our roster of new international resources. Experiencing first hand what the design industry is offering as ‘new’ gives us a good reason to travel. To remain a leading-edge design firm, we should keep abreast of the ever-evolving technology in materials, construction methods, sustainable resources, cabinetry, appliances, plumbing fixtures, fabrics, furnishings and so on, before they become general public knowledge.
Locally, we have enjoyed attending IDS (Toronto’s Interior Design Show) as well as IIDEX (International Interior Design Exhibition). We have also enjoyed now for a number of years, New York’s ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). Annually we look forward to the world’s largest furniture fair in North Carolina’s High Point Market as well. From our experience, one big show that requires intense planning to visit is Italy’s Salone Internazionale as it is currently our industry’s most extensive show – a one-week visit is not long enough! My business partner and I have also experienced London’s 100% Interior Design Show and the Maison Objet Exhibition in Paris, France. Post pandemic, we hope that these organizations will regain their much-needed presence.
Best Interior Designers: How would you describe your personal decorating style?
Melandro Quilatan: I personally love surrounding myself with a modern aesthetic – simple and uncluttered. However, my personal residence is a blend of modern with transitional elements as my other half prefers a traditional aesthetic – this blend is a happy marriage between our personal preferences.
Our firm’s headquarters generally showcases the modern aesthetic – simplicity in both line and color. Notably, our boardroom is yet again a good blend of modern with traditional elements, injecting both masculine and feminine nuances representing the dynamic between my business partner and me.
Best Interior Designers: All artists need some inspiration to work, and interior designers are artists too. So, what or who really inspires you?
Melandro Quilatan: It wouldn’t be sufficient to accredit my inspiration to one or two individuals really as I find inspiration in almost everything I lay my eyes on. My surroundings can provide a plethora of interesting shapes, lines, color, proportion, and texture. Lighting, nature, fashion, cars, graphics, food, festivals, jewelry, historic architectural sites (to name a few) are points to observe and learn from. Taking a different route to and from work provides a new set of visual stimulation. Traveling to different countries exposes me to new cultures and new ways to understand nations different from that of my own.
Best Interior Designers: Inspiration is something that pushes everyone to create unique things. What makes you see the world in a different way?
Melandro Quilatan: Immersing in the creative process provides me with a jolt of excitement – especially if all of my senses are given reason to partake. Engaging this need to be stimulated is a big driving force for me to create unique things – I really enjoy the process of inventing. One big incentive to keep creating is in observing viewers react (tangibly or not) to the environments our team and I create.
No matter how successful a project is, I always envision where we can improve it – a lesson for the next inventive project. When I see other interior spaces or any object for that matter, my mind immediately imagines how it can be improved or enhanced – or how it could have been interpreted/created differently.
I’m not exactly certain how differently I view the world from others – but it’s just the way I’ve always viewed it – ever since I can remember.
Best Interior Designers: If you had to pick one project around the world that you wish was made by you, which one would it be?
Melandro Quilatan: Currently there are two developments that have left me envious 😊 Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus – New York’s World Trade Center terminal station and Zaha Hadid’s Beijing Daxing International Airport. Both projects are in my opinion very inspired, jaw-droppingly magnificent to be immersed in. From every point of view, angle and perspective, there is something visually stimulating. Both projects are masterful sculptures in their own rights.
Best Interior Designers: How important is a perfect chemistry between you and your clients to achieve the best results?
Melandro Quilatan: Even before engagement – as we are being interviewed for a potential job, we are quite open in expressing that we too are interviewing a potential client simultaneously. One of the most enjoyable aspects of working with our clients is understanding what they are trying to convey (at times although they may know what they want in their mind, they do not have the industry lingo to express them). Picking up on verbal clues, body language, the unspoken, is so important. Listening is a vital part of understanding what someone is trying to express to me. Creating that careful chemistry is based on intuition, empathy and expression. In other words, chemistry can indeed be created.
It is imperative that this chemistry is sustained. We need to make certain we are aligned in vision, that there is mutual respect and value of input as this is a long-term partnership being created. As with all types of relationships, they must be nurtured and be mutually satisfying.
Best Interior Designers: Choosing the best pieces to compose a project can be the secret to getting the best overall result. Although it seems easy, this is a delicate task and needs full attention on time to execute. Do you have some tips for those who do not know well how to start a challenge like this?
Melandro Quilatan: Any homeowner can go to a furniture showroom to select pieces for their project by themselves or with assistance from a showroom rep. One-stop shopping can be easy – but the sales rep will not be well versed with the project’s obvious particulars and subtle nuances. As Prime Consultant, the Interior Designer is best to do so as they have set from the start the overall vision, design language and technical/dimensional needs that the project warrants and deserves.
Our clients come to us to execute what they can’t do for themselves. If a potential client believes that our selections process is easy, they may need to be educated on the process – there is much value to an Interior Designer’s experience, resources, professional input, and service. We educate our clients on how and where to prioritize their investments.
What we do is a calculated process – a series of steps that dictate our thoughtful choices in furniture pieces. The process of curating is a creative science – each piece must not only speak to one another but also compliment each other. Technically each piece should respect the overall budget, be of high quality, have longevity and be code compliant. Aesthetically each element in the room must serve a purpose in the totality of the space through its contribution to overall balance, colour, pattern, proportion, and texture.
Best Interior Designers: Do you think working with teams in interior design is better or worse than working alone? Why?
Melandro Quilatan: Two heads are better than one – we are a team of 22 comprised of talented and energetic creatives. We are motivated and highly organized – each one with a set of skills and talent that prove to be valuable to our process. We assign specific tasks appropriate to each team member possessing that specialty skillset. There are many merits to employing a team – from expediency to quality control. In a team environment, a design operation can tackle multiple large developments simultaneously which is an obvious business asset.
Best Interior Designers: Is there anything exciting that you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about?
Melandro Quilatan: Residentially, we have a few exciting projects in the planning stages including sprawling Lakefront properties. One new-build, in particular, is situated in one of Toronto’s most desirable neighborhoods whose owner is allowing us to create a 40,000 square foot dream home for the family.
Commercially we have 16 Luxury Condominium Developments in the Sales and Marketing Stage – whose sales pavilions were designed with aspirational full model suites or living vignettes. In addition to this, we have 35 Condominium sites with Toronto’s leading Developers in varying stages of construction and/or completion. Be sure to keep visiting our social media platforms for status updates and our website for final photos of these luxury condominium towers!
Best Interior Designers: What has been your greatest accomplishment as a designer? What goals do you have for the future?
Melandro Quilatan: One of the industry organizations we belong to is BILD – The Building Industry and Land Development Association. Each year they hold an awards gala night to recognize outstanding achievements of developers, home builders, architects, interior designers, sales and marketing professionals across the region. We are proud to say each year we submit a project for consideration, we garner the much-coveted gold award for that particular category. It is with much pride and honor we receive accolades from our fellow industry peers!
Residentially, it would be easy to note how gratifying our role is when our client sees our final accomplishments. However, what is even more satisfying for us, is the opportunity to hear from or visit the family years into living in the homes we have designed. Hearing how they’ve been thoroughly enjoying, living, entertaining, growing and thriving in the spaces we have created specifically for them is truly heart-warming.
The ability to beautify this country one project at a time keeps us motivated. The ability to extend that reach to overseas is a goal. From the age of 7, I grew up in Canada but I was born in the Philippines – one dream is to reconnect with my birth nation and partake in the thriving economy. There are many mega projects that are being built and many more slated to redescribe their city skylines and infrastructures. It would be very exciting to see how we can adapt our Canadian sensibilities to the Southeast Asian Market. Tourism is a significant part of the country’s GDP – we would love to design luxury hotels and resorts on a few of the 7,640 tropical island destinations!
As a special personal project, it would be quite thrilling to apply our expertise and skillset to the interior design of luxury cars, private jets and bespoke yachts – selfishly that would be so much fun 😊
Best Interior Designers: Do you have a favorite project or a favorite story about one of your projects?
Melandro Quilatan: One project that remains dear to our hearts is High Park Condominiums for The Daniel’s Corporation in Toronto. Notable not necessarily for its size, but rather for the marketing campaign that included a focus on the mantra ‘re-use’ and ‘re-purpose’. There were a number of existing homes on the site that had to be removed to make way for the new building structure. We championed the developer’s mandate to use as much material or lumber from the disassembled homes – through careful design considerations, we had featured a pair of custom show-wood frame elongated sofas in the building’s reception lounge. We used the harvested timbers as architectural wall dividers in the lobby. For the arts and sculpture program, we commissioned local artists and sculptors to incorporate reclaimed woods and metals in their creations for the various common amenity areas of the building.
It was a sincere gesture to honour the past, within the present setting, for the future to remember and enjoy.
Truthfully having to select a favourite project from our entire body of work is like asking a parent if they have a favourite child 😊 Each one of our ‘babies’ is the product of hard labour and genuine love – there is always something about each one that leaves us emotionally invested even after we are long done.
What did you think about this interview with Melandro Quilatan, from Tomas Pearce?