Design

How Anthony Nazareno Merges Art and Architecture

Architect Anthony Nazareno talks about the giants who inspired him to be who he is, and shares how he looks at architecture with the eye of an artist.
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Real Living's The Professionals highlights experts in architecture, design, construction, and real estate, shining a light on what it takes to create beautiful living spaces, and the people who make them happen.

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In life, there are specific, unforgettable moments when everything unexpectedly falls into place. It happens in the presence of both the mundane and the glorious; in between the hitching of one’s breath and the slow realization of change.

For some, the moment comes in the form of art; after all, how many times has art pushed people towards uncharted territory? This is how it was for Architect Anthony Nazareno, who, initially wanting to become a traditional artist, had spent his younger years touring museums with his dad.

“One museum in particular he brought me to ended up having an exhibition of Kenzo Tange, a Japanese architect,” he shares. “And I loved architecture from then on, having seen his models, and all the works he had laid out... I remember that became a very indelible point in what I pictured architecture to be. It was a lot more than pretty houses. There was something about it that I wanted to delve into.

“And that was me as a kid. I remember at that point, being in a museum, looking at beautiful works of art and actually just getting drawn deeply into those models, and why he did what he did.”

Photo by COURTESY OF AR. ANTHONY NAZARENO.
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Another inspiration was National Artist Francisco "Bobby" Mañosa, who, being a friend of his parents, welcomed him into his home. “My dad and my mom had a couple of things they had Tito Bobby Mañosa do for us then… He was always there, and I was kind of starstruck at Bobby Mañosa being at our place, and he in fact invited the family to his house in Alabang. His was one of the first houses in Alabang.”

For the young Anthony, being in the home of one of the greats was unforgettable. “He didn’t just invite us. He knew that there was this kid—I suspect my dad did tell him that you know, this kid paints a lot and he wants to get into architecture… He brought us all the way into his bedroom! Who does that? I was really amazed, even to this day. That was about 40 years ago.”

Photo by COURTESY OF AR. ANTHONY NAZARENO.
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The experience made such an impact that the walkthrough remains clear in his mind: “His bedroom looked out to a pond, and the sliding door opened up to a corner, and you can actually just sit on a bench by that corner overlooking the pond… It was like ‘This is wild. This is amazing. This is not what I thought a bedroom of an architect would be!”

These memories were what he brought with him to the California College of the Arts in Berkley, and he knew that he had made the right life decision when he met the famed architect, Jim Jennings. “He was a professor in Design Studio,” Anthony shares. “Somehow, he liked my work and spent a lot of time with me, just needling and nitpicking what I did and why I did what I did… I ended up working for him after college. It was at that point [that I knew I was in the right place]working with somebody who wanted to work with you, and understand your work, and refine your work.”

Photo by COURTESY OF AR. ANTHONY NAZARENO.
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It is this kind of mentorship that Anthony promotes in his design studio, Nazareno + Guerrero Design Consultancy. While his schedule doesn’t permit him to teach, he always aims to create a collaborative atmosphere with the architects and designers under his wing. “I like working with my design team who really ask questions. We bounce questions and ideas off of each other. It’s very much like a studio setting.

Photo by COURTESY OF AR. ANTHONY NAZARENO.

“It’s like that for me. When I interview them before we hire… I find out what interests them as architects… ‘Why are you here? I see your portfolio, why did you do this, and who influences you?’ I almost always ask, ‘Who is that artist that influenced you most?’ And I keep on telling them, ‘Do you not look beyond architecture? I didn’t say architect, I said artist.’

For Anthony, it all comes full circle. The lines and curves that move on a canvas are the same strokes that command homes and buildings born from an architect’s drafting table.

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Photo by COURTESY OF AR. ANTHONY NAZARENO.

“There’s so much influence beyond the realm of architecture in my work. It clearly is a lot of visual art and emotion that come into play beyond just what we see, or the experience a particular space gives us.”

And it all goes back to that moment when a wide-eyed child who loves to paint stared in wonder at the works of Kenzo Tange in a museum: a visual symbolism of the intersection of art and architecture, which has ignited a unique passion that continues to fuel Anthony to this day.

“Architecture is creating an emotional and experiential space,” he says. “That really is architecture to me, because that’s how it drew me to it… Just seeing space and experiencing it in that first realization that wow—architecture can actually be art.”

Photo by COURTESY OF AR. ANTHONY NAZARENO.
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Photos of Ar. Anthony Nazareno by Bea Nazareno

Cover lay-out  by Stephanie Ocampo

Project images courtesy of Ar. Anthony Nazareno

Video by Riell Santos

This story originally appeared on Realliving.com.ph. Minor edits have been made by Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Charlene J. Owen for RealLiving.com.ph
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