Art is for everyone. It can be an avenue for someone to express themselves, from painting landscapes to sketching portraits. Access to art materials, however, can be intimidating, especially for beginners or those who want to start a new hobby. 

At the height of the pandemic, Art Caravan founders thought to supply art materials–paints, pastels, canvases and sketch sheets–to hobbyists and aspiring artists looking to cope and heal through the creative process. Their initial clientele was composed of family and close friends, all of whom would reach out through Viber to place orders. On the same group chat, they also began to share their artworks, which would later inspire the concept behind Art Caravan. 

Francis Lim, founder of Art Caravan remembers, “Our clients would start sending us photos of their works, and we felt that this had to be shared to a wider audience.” Exhibiting at a gallery is not easily accessible for many local artists and hobbyists. And so, the young and innovative team at Art Caravan thought to utilize the wide reach of social media to share the art experience. “We were getting a lot of images of artworks. Because of that, we created the Art Caravan Instagram account as a platform for all of us to express ourselves through art. A year later, we also started our own Facebook page.”

From being an online community, Art Caravan recently opened its physical store on the second floor of The Forum in BGC. The minimalist space aims to offer a venue for anyone who wants to delve into arts without the feeling of intimidation. Designed by Interior Designer Cecil Ravelas, the vision of the team turned into reality. “We wanted to build a cozy space that would make everyone feel at home. When you walk into Art Caravan, it’s like someone’s giving you a hug. It’s warm, engaging, and friendly. It was also important for us that our visitors are welcomed into a feel good kind of space that makes them smile when they walk in,” shares Francis. 

The brightly lit 128-square-meter space was designed to convey just that. Instead of utilizing the usual shelves and racks, custom alcoves were built to showcase a wide range of premium, hard-to-find art supplies. They were built not only for display, but clever storage of high quality  inventory as well. Island display tables at the center feature sculptural details that ring in a sense of flow and movement. .

When it comes to the design concept, Cecil shares with BluPrint that they agreed that the store they are building should not be just your typical store where all products are out on display and crammed on a wall to make sure each inch of the store is maximized for selling. “The space should tell the Art Caravan narrative which is basically empowering people to find the artists in themselves and enabling them to express themselves,” she adds. 

Based on the basic tools an artist needs, they took their visual cue from the same materials, such as canvas, paint tubes, and paint brushes. They kept the space neutral in color like a blank canvas. For all the woodworks, the team used the natural, light colored wood similar to a paint brush. The wood also gave the space a bit of warmth but kept a quiet visual. The design team simulated the brush texture on the parametric display table with the linear pattern. 

The installation on the ceiling simulates the movement of the paint as one squeezes a paint tube. Empty tubes painted in white hang overhead like grand chandeliers. They follow a wave-like pattern, enticing visitors to walk towards the back where the creative workshop area lies. Cecil explains: “The paint tubes are like notes to music. You can create different movements and music. Everyone can express themselves differently so I think each of us can have a paint tube and produce beautiful works…That’s what this space is all about.” The installation overhead is regarded as the pièce de résistance that mirrors ART CARAVAN’s ethos for bringing the art experience to everyone. Francis explains, “We’d like to be the Starbucks for artists where there is space for everyone to meet up, connect, create art, share ideas. It’s a safe space and everyone is welcome to linger for free.” 

Art Caravan welcomes anyone who is passionate, enthusiastic or even just curious about the creative process. “We don’t charge for use of our space. Guests can even bring their own materials and are not required to buy from the store,” clarifies Francis. 

As a space for artists and art enthusiasts, Cecil explains that the space is quite tactile and visually busy with the layered texture and forms. “The intent is to trigger a reaction from the people walking into the space and I think the experience will always be a unique and personal one. Every individual will surely have a different reaction to space. Some may like it, some may not but the goal is for one to stop and react.”

The design team kept the palette neutral to balance the layer of texture, form, and movement introduced to create a visual interest. The linear patterns created by the parametric furniture were juxtaposed against the free flowing movement on the ceiling created by the paint tube installation. Each surface has something to trigger an experience and if one steps back, the movements are contrasting to each other. “The challenge was to establish the careful balance of the contrasting layers of elements, patterns, and textures to ensure that we still achieve the quiet state,” says Cecil.

Art Caravan is a fresh concept that provides people with a welcoming space not only for art activities but also creating community with like-minded people. In the post-pandemic age, it’s ideal to have a venue where people can connect and have real conversations.

Photos from Before Deadlines

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