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Sibling Revelry

Literally and figuratively made from the same mold, French-Filipino siblings Lani and Dean Taylor Pasquet share how family and adaptability have become the recipe for success of international design sensation, La Galuche Inc.

Literally and figuratively made from the same mold, French-Filipino siblings Lani and Dean Taylor Pasquet share how family and adaptability have become the recipe for success of international design sensation, La Galuche Inc.

Stingray leather or shagreen is a coveted commodity these days. Once a rawhide esteemed by samurai masters and European aristocrats for its exceptional mix of beauty and durability, shagreen has made a comeback in recent years as one of the most sought-after leathers for furniture, clothing accessories, and even fashion.

That makes it a veritable gold mine for La Galuche, one of the few furniture manufacturers in the world that produce their own stingray leather, among other exotic skins. At the heart of La Galuche’s steady rise is the synergy between General Manager Lani Taylor Pasquet and her brother Dean, La Galuche’s web and production manager. But what’s ironic is that the company is older than either one of them. It was their father, Frenchman Jean-Marc Pasquet, who started working with the stingray in 1982.

“He studied gemology so his background is really in jewelry,” Dean said. “He would travel to almost every country to buy precious stones, go back to France, and sell to Cartier and Place Vendôme—the best place in Paris to buy jewelry.” According to Dean, their father eventually started sourcing out exotic skins to make jewelry, a venture that he ultimately expanded to furniture.

“Sometimes he’d stay two weeks in France then leave for another two weeks to be in the Philippines [to oversee the factory in Cebu],” Dean recalled.

Perhaps due to the nature of their father’s profession or his hobby of sailing, their family set-up was not what most would call conventional.

“Every summer we’d live in a boat for three months,” Lani fondly shared. “We’d go to the Philippines, Phuket, Malaysia, and other places in Asia. In fact, my dad wanted us to live in the boat for real but my mom said, ‘No way, I’m a city girl!’” Their Manileña mother, Candy, an English teacher who had met Jean-Marc at a party in Paris, insisted on her preference for the urban lifestyle.

Their father’s laidback vibe seems have rubbed off on the two who drove together to Crimson Beach Resort and Spa on the morning of the photo shoot. Dean was dressed casually in a T-shirt and a pair of shorts whereas Lani greeted us in a flowing maxi dress, her face devoid of any makeup. Not that she needed any; the twenty-five-year-old is a deadringer for Isabella Rosellini and is no novice to photo shoots, having been featured in a few glossies and in the recent ad campaign of Cebu brand Islands Souvenirs.

“I was born in Paris,” Lani said,”but for my first three years, we lived in Cebu. I was even baptized in Liloan [in northern Cebu]. My dad still had the company there at the time.

“When Dean was born, we moved to Paris for ten years. We lived on top of our French grandparents’ arts supplies shop. From school, I’d go to the shop and play with pens. We were always exposed to design and art especially because architects went to buy supplies in the shop.”


Lani looks up to her grandmother whom she said she got her character and taste from: “She is really the one who has an eye for beauty. My grandparents have a beautiful house in Cannes that is so detailed; every room has a theme. She influenced me a lot.”

In fact, Lani wanted to be an architect at first but chose to take up marketing management for more practical reasons.

“France is not like the Philippines where there is a new construction site around every corner,” she said. “In Paris, there is barely any space for new buildings. [Besides,] I really love marketing. My mother used to work in one of the top advertising agencies in France and I would visit her there. I liked the ambience. I would even get paid to see what I thought of a paper and I found that so cool that it stuck with me.”

“When I was 11 [and Dean was 8], our parents decided to get out of city life and move to the south of France in Aix-en-Provence,” Lani said. She eventually moved back to Paris by herself to pursue her college degree at 18. During this time, their father had left for Cebu and reopened the business.

“Her college, Université Paris Dauphine, was really tough,” Dean said. “But it is the best public school in France for business.”

Lani disclosed how having to bounce back early turned out to be a blessing in disguise: “Living alone and adjusting to a new city, I was really lucky the first year because I almost failed. In the summer, I was able to make up for two subjects and because I got better grades than those who did well the first time. My average was better.” This was an advantage for her school’s bidding system, which allowed students to continue semesters abroad.

Out of a thousand applicants, Lani was selected to continue her studies in Singapore and Hongkong, as well as to finish the second year of her master’s degree at Fundação Getulio Vargas in Brazil. However, not long after Lani’s first job as packaging manager in a branding agency, then in a cosmetic company, her father asked her to join him in reviving La Galuche in Cebu.

Only three years apart, it is clear that Lani has the stronger personality between the two siblings. Dean exudes a quiet, easygoing charm.

“We were both spoiled as kids but he was treated like a prince!” Lani chided. “We both had a ‘yaya’—which is uncommon in France— we were very spoiled and lucky to have home cooked Filipino food too.”

Dean admitted that he is very close to their mother. “When Lani left for college and dad went to Cebu, it was just me and my mom in our house in Aix-en-Provence for three years,” he said.

Both siblings spoke highly of the small city near Marseilles where the famous Montagne Saint-Victoire towers in its east. Lani even referred to it as “the most beautiful city in France.” Dean, who played American football in high school, especially likes the Aix’s weather and terrain: “Growing up in the south was nice. It’s always sunny and the lifestyle is relaxed. It’s also ideal for extreme sports. It’s close to the sea. The Alps are accessible and you can ski. There’s even a lake if you want to go wakeboarding.

“I studied business/advertising in Ecole de Management Léonard De Vinci in Paris,” Dean continued. “Lani and I shared a flat for a year when I was a freshman and she was in her fourth year, but she traveled a lot because of her studies.” In his third year, Dean chose to complete his six-month internship abroad at La Galuche in Cebu where he was reunited with his father and sister.

Working for their father’s business for the first time garnered mixed reactions from Lani and Dean. Said Lani, “My father is not the type to delegate or teach [since he is used to being a one-man trader] so I had a lot to figure out at first, including creating my own position. I worked on a company policy and started handing out a memo whenever someone was late. It was a challenge because some of the factory workers who came back from before have known me since I was in diapers!”
Culture was also an initial obstacle for her: “Before then, I had never worked in the Philippines and had to adjust to the local work practices. Looking back, I’m proud of how I gradually broke in but at the time, I was a young girl who didn’t know anything about furniture or stingray but at the same time had to tell everyone what to do. I’m stronger now.” Recognizing Lani and Dean’s creative talents and drive to grow the company, their father felt confident entrusting La Galuche to them, which allowed him to fulfill his desire of sailing and traveling the world.

When Dean entered the company in 2009, he said that La Galuche already had a good system in place and was doing very well in the market as a high-end furniture player. Much credit is due to their father who has built valuable and long-term relationships with suppliers and clients over the years.

Today, Lani and Dean complement each other in managing La Galuche. “We have a common trust,” Dean said. “If she goes on a trip, I cover for her and vice versa.” Of the 22-year-old, Lani said: “I may be more organized but he has the swag, the people skills. The employees love him. He gets along well with everyone.”

Lani recalled what Dean had texted her only two months after he started working for the company: “I’m with Chris Burch [Tory Burch’s husband.] He just bought the showroom.”

“I swear I was ready to retire at that point!” she joked.

“Eighty percent of our production is custom-made or exclusive for clients,” Dean explained. “The rest is our own line, which is influenced by the styles of 1920’s art deco French designers, like Jean Michel Frank and Clement Rosseau. As much as we would love to make new collections, with the demand from clients who outsource from us at the moment, we can’t squeeze in those items.” La Galuche only has a total of 50 employees including the Pasquets but has been catering exclusively to major international design labels like Ralph Lauren, Asprey, and Tory Burch, to name a few.

“The main key of our business is the raw materials,” said Dean. “Shagreen is our number one product and is also the most expensive because it is rare. Shagreen comes from a specific ray with a scaly, hard skin in the Indian Ocean. A piece inlayed in stingray will last forever. I can say that we produce best-quality skins in the world.”

La Galuche also uses other raw materials such as the skins of python, crocodile, shark, ostrich and goat, combined with shells, cow bone, ebony, cedar and other exotic woods. There are almost no limits to what their skilled workers can handcraft from the combination of these materials and from the dyeing process that produces every color imaginable. One client wanted a bedside table to match his curtains so he sent a swatch of cloth from the drapes for La Galuche to recreate the exact same color.

“Only a few designers carry our pieces,” Lani said. “Most of the people who order from us want something special and every piece is different. For instance, we once customized a cabinet for Brooke Shields with a special color and with skull heads as handles.

Their biggest project to date was for the The Ritz Carlton in Pudong, Shanghai. The hotel property, which was named as 2011’s Best Hotel in the World by an international travel magazine, has walls of shagreen in the elevators and presidential suites.

La Galuche’s continuous string of achievements has resulted in the siblings’ settling in Cebu for some time now. Lani has been in a relationship with Cebuano businessman Jay Chiongbian for the past two years and the two even collaborated together on a new lifestyle lounge GILT, of which her boyfriend is the owner.

Dean has also blended well with the local scene, having made a lot of friends himself. As for the business, whether they decide to expand the factory to accommodate more orders or to seek new materials to diversify their product line, it is only a matter of time and choice. Between these two young go-getters, who knows what else they are capable of accomplishing?

  • by Pia Echevarria
  • sittings editor Katsy Borromeo
  • production manager David Jones Cua
  • production assistant Danica Ronquillo
  • photography Anne Lorraine Uy
  • creative director Mikey Sanchez
  • grooming Ramil Solis and Hyatt Laurel
  • locale Crimson Resort & Spa
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Design

Filipino graphic designer makes history, joins Switzerland’s Museum of Avant-garde among genre’s greats

PJ Ong of Inodoro, an internationally renowned graphic designer, is the first Filipino whose work will be part of the permanent collection of Switzerland’s Museum of Avant-garde

CEBU CITY — In a groundbreaking achievement, Cebu-based graphic designer and art director PJ Ong of Inodoro Design Studio, is set to become the first Filipino artist permanently exhibited at Museum of Avant-garde (MA-g) in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

Cebu-based graphic designer and art director of Inodoro Design Studio, PJ Ong

Ong’s recognition at MA-g places him among over 250 avant-garde artists, including iconic figures like Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, signifying a profound milestone in museum history.

“Avant-garde,” is a term that refers to pushing the boundaries of artistic expression.

“I am extremely honored and humbled. It is a remarkable milestone in my creative journey, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a prominent platform. The acknowledgment, especially considering Switzerland’s exacting standards in art and design, is truly fulfilling,” said Ong.

 

Part of a stellar contemporary collection

Under the museum’s Contemporary Collection, Ong will join global contemporary agencies such as M/M Paris (collaborator of Icelandic singer-songwriter and composer, Björk), WORK Pte Ltd (brainchild of the “Godfather of Singapore Graphic Design,” Theseus Chan), Bedow (Stockholm), BVD Stockholm AB (Stockholm), Socio Design (London) and Milkxhake (Hong Kong), among others.

Ong’s music packaging design for the Filipino harsh noise duo, White Widow, will be featured in the museum. The band’s album “The God Uterus Dissolves” — released under Melt Records — features an unconventional cassette tape packaging incorporating a hand-crafted wire mesh, elevating it into a unique and bespoke collector’s item.

The museum’s selection process for its Contemporary Collection involved three categories: Graphic Design, Photography, and Illustration. Swiss-Canadian Fritz Gottschalk, a prominent figure in contemporary graphic design, led the Graphic Design category.

“This is profoundly validating for me as a graphic designer. Being part of a museum’s permanent contemporary collection is a lasting testament to my capabilities as an artist,” said Ong.

‘Poetry you can touch’

The graphic designer from Cebu City further defined the album as a “deliberate departure from the ordinary,” stating that it was a testament to the artist’s and band’s dedication to pushing boundaries and offering the audience a unique and immersive experience.

“Careful consideration was given to every detail, including choosing a premium supplier for the cassette tape. Opting for a screen-printed cassette, where design elements were applied directly to the surface, gave it a contemporary and visually striking result, helping us reinforce the design narrative,” said Ong.

“From the cohesive placement of elements to using symbols instead of track titles on the spine and customizing fonts, every aspect was carefully thought out. Rather than opting for the conventional wire mesh treatment on print, I took a bold step by incorporating a hand-crafted wire mesh, adding a unique and sensory dimension to the album — almost like poetry you can touch.”

 

Profound honor

Established in 2003, Inodoro Design Studio under Ong’s leadership has garnered global acclaim for its bold design philosophy, spanning music, fashion, architecture, culture and technology. In becoming the first Filipino whose work will be on display at the MA-g, Ong stated that it is “particularly humbling.”

“Traditionally, these privileges are given to individuals who have amassed decades of experience, attained mastery in their craft, or even as a posthumous acknowledgment. To be among those selected is a profound and unexpected honor,” he said.

“Museums typically focus on visual artists, and for a graphic designer, especially within the realm of commercial work, recognition can be more elusive. I appreciate the challenges of this less conventional route and I am committed to proving the significance of graphic design in the broader artistic landscape.”

Art enthusiasts can anticipate viewing Ong’s work with “The God Uterus Dissolves” at MA-g, scheduled to open to the general public in 2025.

***

About The Museum of Avant-garde (MA-g)

The Museum of Avant-garde compiles an original body of work from private collections, providing a unique perspective on the cultural and artistic significance of avant-garde movements. These movements, synonymous with transformative ideologies and daring experimentations, played a pivotal role in challenging political and societal conventions. For more information, visit www.ma-g.org.

 

About Inodoro

Inodoro is the creative moniker of graphic designer and art director PJ Ong, a prominent figure in the Philippine design scene. Established in 2003, Inodoro Design Studio, based in Cebu, Philippines, has garnered international recognition for its bold and distinctive design, with a focus on thought-driven imagery and iconic visual language. The studio specializes in identities, custom typography, graphic design and art direction. For more information, visit www.inodoro-design.com.

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Ladies Who Support Ladies

Women’s Circle is an organization composed of Cebuano ladies who are successful entrepreneurs and top executives.  They recently held a fellowship event at the Sheraton Mactan Resort, with special guests from the Women’s Business Council Philippines. Chairperson, Rosemarie Rafael and Council Secretary Cynthia Mamon both flew in from Manila to discuss alliances between the Cebu and Manila groups.

Loot bag from Jo Malone, Sheraton, R&M Chocomanga, gift card from Maayo Clinic, sarong from Ferimar.

The half day event was organized by Perl Jacalan, Gina Atienza and Eva Gullas. Sheraton Resort through its GM Dottie Wugler Cronin supported the event as it is aligned with the hotel’s women initiatives.  The successful event was made more fun with generous give-aways, notably Jo Malone perfumes, Sheraton bags, R&M Chocomanga and sarongs from Ferimar.

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Eight Years of Redefining Hospitality Service

by Allain Dumon Fonte

The person behind the very successful chain of Bayfront Hotel  Cebu is the youngest son of entrepreneur couple, Edgar and Gregoria Cokaliong.  I first met Charlton as a young and dashing gentleman busily working in their textile business.  I am impressed with how he excellently juggled taking care of orders, organizing shipments, arranging deliveries, accounting, and even managing the staff of their textile company.  Charlton is an alumnus of Cebu Eastern College where he finished his primary and secondary education.  He then went to the University of San Carlos and studied accountancy.  He successfully passed the accounting licensure examinations, and worked as a certified public accountant while helping in the family’s textile business; who would have thought that he would venture into hospitality.  

Charlton Cokaliong (Managing Director of Bayfron Hotel Cebu). Picture taken at the Bayfront Hotel Lobby.

In 2014, he first opened Bayfront Hotel Cebu at the North Reclamation Area.  I even wondered why of all the places that he can start a hotel, he had to choose the North Reclamation Area.  I find the location appalling for a hotel.  What view will the guests see?  I would not want to stay in a room where the views are cranes, machines, and container vans from the sea port.  Yet, Charlton foresaw the future of hospitality service.  He knew that with the recent developments of Cebu City, people will prefer to stay in hotels that are near to the city, and have access to almost everything they need.  The hotel is right across SM City Cebu, 10 minutes from the sea ports, 30 minutes from the airport, and 15 minutes to almost all the tourist destinations in the city and in the hills of Cebu.  Then, he made the hotel packages and event packages reasonably priced; yet, with a 5-star quality of service.  I even questioned, are you not losing for the prices that you have set?  However, since the hotel opened and up to the present, Bayfront Hotel Cebu has always been fully booked and is becoming the primary choice of venue for events and celebrations.  Charlton explained that he foresaw that with the rising economy and the rising population of the metropolitan, people will always prefer to celebrate special occasions; yet, considering the inflation every year, people will also choose to become more practical by spending less  without compromising quality.  And this is what Bayfront Hotel Cebu delivers, an experience of excellent hospitality service at a price that no other can match.

Bayfront Hotel Cebu in Capitol Site.

Because of the continuous demand for their hotel rooms and venues, Charlton opened another Bayfront Hotel Cebu in September 2021.  This time the location is at the heart of the uptown of Cebu in the Capitol Site.  Again, Charlton banked on the great location of the second Bayfront hotel.  I once again questioned him on this; considering the competition in the area because of the many up and coming business hotels that offer the same rates and packages.  Charlton smiled and confidently said that apart from the great location, he also banks on the quality of service that his staff can deliver.  “If you take care of your staff very well, your staff will take good care of your customers”.  I have seen first hand how Charlton handles and manages his staff at their textile store, so I know how he also handles and takes good care of his staff in the hotel.  And I realized that this is his biggest selling point, the hotel’s incomparable service and friendliness.  Even though the hotel opened in the middle of pandemic restrictions, the new hotel is getting countless reservations; most especially that the Capitol Site Bayfront Hotel offers an amazing view of the city skyline at its roofdeck bar and pool area.  The gym , pool , and bar amenities at the hotel’s roof deck with its view are a must to be experienced.

Standard De Luxe Room at the Bayfront Hotel Cebu.

Early of 2022, Charlton also opened the hotel’s in-house dining feature.  For seven years, Bayfront Hotel Cebu was catered by a third party food concessionaire.  But, again, Charlton foresees that the Filipino market will be more critical to food and taste.  I asked, why is this?  Charlton explained that with travel becoming more affordable and accessible, people will get to experience different kinds of food and dine in different restaurants.  Hence, people will now learn to benchmark, not only from local restaurants, but also from their dining experiences around the Philippines and overseas.  Therefore, Bayfront Hotel Cebu needs to step up its game in dining.  With the opening of Caja Kitchen, Bayfront Hotel offers more selections of Asian and Filipino comfort food fusion with international cuisines.  With Caja Kitchen, Charlton turned a Filipino menu into an international dining experience. I asked him how he came up with all these.  Charlton  explained that dedication to make his guests happy and satisfied is the key motivation why he does not stop thinking about innovating and reinventing everyone’s hospitality and dining experience. 

Caja Restaurant: Bayfront Hotel Cebu’s in-house dining facility.

In September of this year, the Bayfront Hotel Cebu in North Reclamation Area is officially celebrating its 8th year of wonderful and excellent hospitality service; while the Bayfront Hotel Cebu in Capitol turns 1!  Great and exciting anniversary promotions and packages await its patrons and guests!  Please visit the social media pages of Bayfront Hotel Cebu to know the amazing anniversary deals!

With my last question, what does he have in mind now.  Charlton just smiled and said, “Well, who knows?  Another Bayfront Hotel Cebu shall rise soon!”.  After this interesting conversation, I can say that Charlton is truly a man who can foresee the future; may it be in business, in the market, with the trends, and with new experiences.  

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