Having grown up in Manila and lived in Dubai, it was the ocean and a desire for a slower pace that pulled interior designer Vianca Soleil Roquero back home to the Philippines. Just over a year ago, Vianca moved to Puro Island, an untouched paradise in the province of Romblon, characterized by white sand, palm trees and wild mangroves. Vianca and her family are building their beach home Unna, which as her designs continue to evolve, will become a small eco-resort that is already on our travel wish list. As admirers of her journey and her impeccable creative eye, we are excited to share our inspiring conversation with Vianca about the transition from city life to island living, how nature inspires her work, the inspiration behind her vision for Unna and more.
Tell us why you recently decided to trade city life for island life?
I grew up in Manila and worked in Dubai but it always felt like a temporary place. We dream of the kind of life we want to live and coming to Puro Island is my attempt at that, to create a life in a setting which is most ideal for me.
Describe life on Puro Island in three words.
Simple, slow, intimate.
Why should Puro Island be on our travel wish list?
Puro is the Filipino word for “pure” and true enough, this place is untouched. It’s the ideal setting to take in nature because there are no roads nor establishments here, no distractions at all. We’re about an hour boat ride from Boracay and staying at Unna means you’re twenty steps from the shore. We love this charming little island and I’m sure you will too.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your beach home and future eco-resort, Unna.
Unna is inspired by the island itself. The idea was to build like a local by making use of natural materials sourced within the Romblon Islands. I wanted to create a home that reflects the traditional Filipino way of life but somehow done in a very-now and playful way.
“Unna is inspired by the island itself. The idea was to build like a local by making use of natural materials sourced within the Romblon Islands. I wanted to create a home that reflects the traditional Filipino way of life but somehow done in a very now and playful way.”
How does nature influence your design aesthetic and your vision for Unna?
Nature always comes first. It’s my main consideration. I designed around the trees, the landscape and we built with a lot of care. It’s a slow and mindful process as everything is done manually. The outcome is a humble and raw structure that is appreciated second to nature.
How is sustainability and care for the local environment and community woven throughout the Unna experience.
We follow the fundamentals of sustainability not only in the environmental but societal aspect as well. One of the reasons we’re turning our home into a resort is to help to local residents by providing livelihood, from the builders, farmers, fishermen to weavers and working students. Staying with us will also mean supporting the community.
Is there an artist, album or playlist that captures the Unna vibe?
You can check out a few of our Unna playlists here!
When are you most creative?
When I feel free, when I’m excited, when I’m creating for someone special to me. It’s been such a joy designing Unna because it is for my family.
Who and what inspires you?
This island is my inspiration, from its honest and natural beauty to its humble way of life.
Favorite Instagram accounts to follow and get inspired.
How has living on Puro Island helped you to embrace slower living.
By appreciating what is there instead of finding what is lacking. Slower living pushes one to be creative, resourceful, to be strong willed and to be more connected in real life. I can’t stay I’m completely living it, I’m attempting and I hope to keep growing with this approach.
I always start and end the day by the shore, watching the sunrise and sunset. In between that, a form of exercise, whether a swim, hike or paddling. I also make sure to catch up on my loved ones who live in the city. As for skincare, it’s pretty basic. I like to keep it natural and stick to a couple organic products.
Describe your perfect Sunday.
Perfect weather and the feeling you’re accomplished for the week and there’s nothing else to do.
“Slower living pushes one to be creative, resourceful, to be strong-willed and to be more connected in real life. I can’t stay I’m completely living it, I’m attempting and I hope to keep growing with this approach.”
Where are you dreaming of traveling next?
Morocco and Egypt! But there’s not a day that I don’t think about Japan. I would love to go back and visit the deers in Nara.
What has travel taught you?
Travel made me realize the kind of life I want to live. It’s the most obvious answer but it has really opened my mind. Observing different atmospheres and chatting with different kinds of people has not only taught me about the world but also myself.
Philosophy to live by.
My dad used to always say, the best is yet to come.
Who should we interview next?
Sarah Birkett, the founder of Sussurro—a new design-led boutique hotel in Mozambique. She’s a beautiful soul and they’ve created such a special destination.
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