Anthony Nazareno and Rita Nazareno Reinvent The Future of Design
Siblings have a unique bond that can last a lifetime and often become people’s longest relationships. Siblings can have a significant influence on each other, from what they do to their perspectives in life. Two of the most influential and respected creatives in the Philippines today are siblings Architect Anthony Nazareno and Designer Rita Nazareno who share the same values and vision for the future of design.
The design-oriented siblings are not afraid to experiment in using different techniques and materials to come up with new concepts. Their mastery of their crafts let them integrate each other’s design concepts into one cohesive design narrative without losing their individual identities.
BluPrint has worked with both siblings individually but having them in one room exudes a fun, positive energy. The bond they share allows them to collaborate seamlessly despite being in different fields. One of their latest projects together is the “Bahay Huni” in a gated community in Alabang, Muntinlupa.
Antony Nazareno is one of the sought architects in the industry who graduated from the California College of the Arts. He started his design career in San Francisco with modernist architect Jim Jennings who was also his professor in school. Anthony admired his architecture when he was in school. Although he enjoyed working for Jennings for a couple of years, he found himself yearning for a little bit more than just modern architecture. He moved to New York to work for Li-Saltzman, an architecture firm specializing in the preservation and conservation of landmark architecture.
In the late 1990’s, Anthony came back to the Philippines. For him, it was an ideal time to start his own firm. He founded The Nazareno + Guerrero Design Consultancy in 1998 together with Architect Christian Guerrero. Over the years, the firm had designed a wide range of projects, from residential to institutional buildings, which includes “Bahay Huni.”
Before doing what she does now, Rita Nazareno was on television. She was a Senior Producer of Fox 11 in Los Angeles from the Promotions and Creative Department. Then she became a Creative Services Director for the NBC station in Houston, which was the Top 10 market at the time. She came home after their mother called her asking if she could work for S.C. Viscarra, a business started by their grandmother in 1925.
Prior to coming home, Rita took a year off and decided to take up her second Master’s at London College of Fashion for Design Management. She then started ZACARIAS1925, an offshoot of S.C. Viscarra and her thesis. As the brand’s Creative Director, Rita wanted to create something unique for the market.
ZACARIAS1925 pieces displayed during the Art Fair Philippines 2023
“I came back home not wanting to do what’s already out there. I want something I am more passionate about that I haven’t seen out there and I want to reference things that interest me, whether it’s contemporary art, architecture, culture, and even cinema. That’s how I started,” Rita explains.
Rita is now making and designing more than just bags. She also does home accessories beyond using woven wicker, leather, or chair cane. She likes to make and design pieces using different techniques and materials. She is part of Nazareno/Lichauco where she works with fellow designer Gabriel Lichauco curating collections, mentoring designers, and developing new product designs, and concepts for numerous brands. They have been collaborating is numerous projects since 2016.
The Early Days of The Nazareno Siblings
Growing up, the siblings have plenty of memories that bring them closer together. Their shared passion and interest in arts and design have influenced each other’s crafts. It is also inspiring to learn how they supported each other’s endeavors throughout the years. There were times when Anthony would ask her sister to stay up with him as he worked on his plates and models in the wee hours while he was an architecture student.
Like many siblings, Anthony and Rita had a lot of fun and unforgettable experiences together. Rita, for instance, would always hang out with his brother to keep him company as he worked on his models. She shared that there was a time when Anthony left a model, which is due the next day for critique, on a chair and Rita accidentally sat on it. Rita remembered the devastating look on his brother’s face as he looked at the deformed model he just finished making.
“It was not earthquake proof,” Rita remembered telling his brother after the unfortunate incident. Anthony then bantered, “it is earthquake proof, not giant proof.”
Anthony still presented his work to his professor despite its condition. He explained what transpired that led to that situation. The professor believed Anthony worked on his project but it was only unfortunate that it was damaged before he was able to submit it.
On Inspiring Each Other’s Works
With their impressive body of work, both Anthony and Rita have surely carved their names in the industry. Despite having individual careers, they always find each other in certain events without planning for it.
“I love the fact that we can go around, we’ll find each other wherever I am in the world. We’ll go and look at things, then talk about things. Then again, I always find myself staying at his place and they totally take care of me. That’s part of how I look up to him in everything,” Rita shares.
Throughout the course of their careers, they have influenced each other’s work in one way or another. Rita learned several techniques from Anthony when they were young that until now she still applies in her works.
Anthony, meanwhile, appreciates the time he spends with Rita, saying: “Now in my career, I always find myself inviting Rita over and then exchanging ideas [about] anything. She has a lot of ideas, from architecture and interior design to fashion.”
The time the siblings spend exchanging ideas affects the way they collaborate. “I always show her what I’m working on, she always shows me what she’s working on. It’s a great way of critiquing each other’s works,” says Anthony. “I’ve always enjoyed working with Rita because a lot of her stuff really goes well with what I do. I found ourselves really being able to seamlessly integrate accessories that she has done, they have designed. It’s seen in a lot of architecture and interior design that we’ve done throughout the years,” he adds.
Anthony, together with his team, learns from Rita’s craft, especially when working with different materials he doesn’t normally use in his projects. The siblings bounce ideas off of each other when it comes to materiality. This helps Anthony understand the materials Rita uses in her pieces and how he can incorporate those in his designs and vice versa.
“It’s fun having Rita around and being motivated by what she does and what she continues to do and how well she researches materiality in her own creative field,” says Anthony.
Collaborating Then, Now, and The Future
Anthony and Rita have have always leaned into each other when it come to creativity. The siblings told BluPrint that their first collaboration project was a simple Christmas tree that they have designed together. It was for an event where several creatives were invited to design a tree to be auctioned. After a couple of years, Anthony met the person who bought their tree. The owner told the architect that the Christmas tree is still displayed in his office and admired by many.
Anthony and Rita have worked together on several projects after that, having “Bahay Huni” as one of the latest. The house was designed by Architects Anthony and Christian Guerrero of NGDC together with their project team consisting of Katrina Sicat and Interior Designer CJ Marquez. It is adorned with custom pieces from ZACARIAS1925, including oversized woven baskets, stools, and bird nest lamps. The overall design and theme of the house is inspired by the bird sanctuary across the street. The sounds of the birds can reach the house, hence the name “Bahay Huni”. The understanding of the designer siblings of each other’s crafts has tied up the whole place together. Rita’s contemporary pieces are tailored to seamlessly complement Anthony’s design.
When asked about their dream projects together, Anthony shared that he wants to design an art museum. He said that museums are close to both his and Rita’s heart.
Rita, on the other hand, has always wanted to have a cabin designed by his brother. She wants it to be simple, concrete, and affordable. But Anthony assures her that he will have something for her that both of them, together with the rest of the family, can use and enjoy.
“It’s fun when you’re always able to do things you’ve always wanted,” says Anthony.
“Everything I get to spend time with my brother or with my family, that’s always special,” shares Rita.
As siblings, Anthony and Rita have an admirable relationship. With their skills and shared passion in architecture and design, Anthony Nazareno and Rita Nazareno are set to continue delivering fresh and innovative ideas–individually and as a creative duo.
Text RICK FORMALEJO
Photography KIERAN PUNAY
Videographer JOSE RAMIREZ
Art Direction DIANNE FERNANDO
Video Producer MIGUEL LIM
Grooming CATS DEL ROSARIO
Sittings Editor GEEWEL FUSTER
Project Photos Courtesy of NAZARENO + GUERRERO DESIGN CONSULTANCY
Shoot Coordination MAE TALAID and MJ ALMERO