Inside her Ramon Antonio-designed home, PORTORO Interior’s Nathalie Küpfer Henares prepares for the holidays the best way she knows – by melding together traditions she grew up with in Switzerland with those she adopted here in the Philippines.
“I essentially went from a frosty white Christmas to a much warmer tropical Christmas. Back [in Switzerland], we spent much of our time outdoors. We usually slow down towards the end of the year. We often gather in small groups for intimate dinners at each other’s homes. It’s a personal tradition I’ve brought here to our house in the Philippines, as Atom and I invite friends over for dinner during the festive season,” says Henares.
She reminisces going to Christmas markets in Europe and drinking Glüwein – a heated wine spiked with a variety of spices. “Afterwards, we head to dine at quaint little restaurants specializing in cheese fondue or raclette,” Henares continues. “Zurich is spectacular this time of year. The streets and squares are decorated with glittering lights and the shop windows are transformed into little fairylands that delight everyone, regardless of their age.”
A Blend of Art and Elegance
Henares showcases the practical uses of the beautiful products she offers at PORTORO Interior in her home. As the founder and creative director, PORTORO Interior keeps her quite busy during this time of year. “Since starting PORTORO Interior here in the Philippines, the Holidays have been more hectic for me as a lot of events take place. It’s the busiest time of the year for us as we are helping our clients with their gifts and festive table settings,” she shares.
After entering through the foyer, her home opens up into a voluminous double height space that dwarfs the almost 4 meter high Christmas tree in the corner. Her tree is elegantly decorated with white, unglazed porcelain decor in the form of acorns and pine cones. Minotti sofas in muted grays frame the tree and allow it to shine. Across the tree on the other end is a towering, white abstract sculpture by French artist Roger Desserprit.
Nature Meets Sophistication
Inspired by the lush forests of Switzerland, Henares sought to bring nature indoors using fresh pine boughs on her dining table. “The scent reminds me of the forests back home in Switzerland,” she says.
PORTORO Interior launches new products for the season every year. Some items make their way onto Henares’ own table centerpieces, adding beauty and sophistication to her finished design. The gold-edged Impératrice Dinner Set placed onto the Signature Grapefruit Service Plate perfectly pair with fine silver. Some are gorgeous vintage finds from years past – luxurious crystal, candles, and flowers.
Henares long dreamed of having her own design firm and brand. PORTORO Interior is the realization of this dream. “Starting the business gave me the opportunity to bring something different into the Philippine design scene: a curated mix of European and Asian influences that – when combined with personal touches based on my clients’ individual tastes – will create spaces that are unique to each of them.”
She eventually expanded her product lineup from interior and homeware to fashion. “Through living and working in different countries, I was able to build working relationships with craftsmen and artists from different parts of the world. Collaborating with them opened up many possibilities. The ability to bring beautiful items that could add a distinctive continental touch to a living or working space; being able to share their work with the world; learning from them about what makes their products different from others and appreciating the sense of pride that they have in their work which has been passed down for generations,” Henares explains. “Not many design professionals are privileged to do so, and I feel blessed that I was given those opportunities.”
Drawing Inspiration from French Artisans to Japanese Minimalism
Henares looks to different sources for inspiration. She follows French designers who work with skilled French artisans and craftsmen, taking cues from historical designs. “Juxtaposing tradition with innovative modern materials is also something that works for me in architecture and interior design as it adds depth to the overall result,” she adds.
She currently gravitates towards a more minimalist look when it comes to interiors. “These days, I find the Zen tranquility of Japanese interior design appealing. Particularly the less is more philosophy that gives you ample space in which to appreciate the beauty and quality of individual pieces in an interior space. These include handcrafted items from artisans with a long creative heritage. It gives the item a soul. Plus, I deeply appreciate the way natural beauty is incorporated in Japanese craftsmanship, architecture, and interior design.”
Henares may be used to the traditions she grew up with in Switzerland for the holidays. But one thing is for sure – the Philippines has captured her heart. “The enthusiasm that Filipinos have for the holidays is contagious. I like how festive and joyous it is. I also appreciate the way people pay a great deal of attention to those with whom they share a particular closeness. It shows itself in many ways: little gifts given as a surprise, notes of encouragement. And even mundane things like recipes feel like little treasures. It’s like everyone wants the season to be special and joyful. And they do what they can to make it memorable,” she says.
PORTORO Interior Gift Guide
Each piece from the Royal Silver Collection boasts exquisite materials and modern design. These exquisite yet highly functional items blend traditional quality with timeless elegance. The range includes Salt and Pepper Mills, Macaron Plates, and teddy bear-themed photo frames and cutlery kits.
Gift the Mini Lacquer Tray to that special man in your life. Finished in deep burgundy or gray, it’s perfect for holding personal items like watches or cologne bottles. Additionally, it also serves as a handy holder for pencils and business cards.
PORTORO’s Pochettes Parisiennes marks the brand’s initial foray into fashion. This line features three pouch-style clutches, each boasting a unique design. These clutches allow you to carry essentials with the style and ease of a modern Parisienne. Expert French textile mills, known for their craftsmanship and quality, supply the exceptional fabrics. The designs cater to a range of outfits, from casual to glamorous.
For the Discerning
The Tunis Bleu reversible throw blankets made of pure cotton or a bespoke blend of cotton and natural linen. Spun from sustainably-produced natural fibers to ensure their minimal carbon footprint. Both are sumptuously plush, lightweight, and exquisitely comforting.