Design

Camper and Cabin Crafts an Immersive Experience Where Nature and Design Meet

Dennis Canonizado, owner and founder of Camper and Cabin, talks about curating a luxurious refuge, design influences, and more.
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Nestled at the foothills of Mount Batulao, you'll find Camper and Cabin, an escape from the city where nature and design meet. Its founder Dennis Chan Canonizado is an architecture graduate from St. Louis University, who used his expertise to put up his own studio. He eventually combined his interests in vintage, arts and design, and photography to create the different properties on the site.

We spoke with the owner and founder to talk about curating a luxurious refuge, design influences, and more.

Photo by CAMPER AND CABIN.

Tell us about the concept behind Camper and Cabin.

Camper and Cabin is a mountainside luxury retreat that offers both camper and cabins as accommodations. Perched on top of a hill, the property offers a sweeping 360-degree view of both mountain and sea. We curate an immersive experience with nature with its environmentally sustainable design. The property's unique terrain and elevation allows guests to embrace fresh mountain breeze and cool weather practically all year round. It is secluded, thus offering a sense of exclusivity. Its location also makes it a perfect getaway from climbing, hiking, and biking trips.

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What were the design influences for your properties?

Camper and Cabin's design inspiration are the following: Frank Lloyd Wright's Organic architecture which is known for being adaptable and sustainable. Consistent with Frank Lloyd Wright's concept of building structures that harmonize with their inhabitants and environment, the interior of the cabins instantly connects to the mountain landscape outside; Le Corbusier's clean geometric forms and open efficient spaces also served as design inspiration. Camper and Cabin utilizes simple, clean lines and open spaces throughout the design, consistent with Le Corbusier's architectural direction; Tadao Ando, I would say, is a major influence. He is known for concrete texture, and creative use of natural light and structure. Our cabins present an interplay of timeless mid-century modern and industrial elements. The concrete wall finish of the walls also invokes a sleek modern appeal. Natural light enters freely with its glass-enclosed finish. Moreover, Camper and Cabin's structure follows the natural forms of the landscape, designed in such a way that the natural terrain remained largely undisturbed.

Photo by CAMPER AND CABIN.
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Cabin 2, specifically, looks very different from the typical Filipino vacation house. Was this a conscious decision?

Yes, it was a conscious effort to come up with a unique design—one that you'd not normally see in the country. Cabin 2 was not originally part of the plan, but during the construction, we felt that the expansive view fronting Cabin 2 is definitely something he should take advantage of. So, it was decided to build a modern glass cabin that offers a panoramic view of Nasugbu's rolling farmland terrain with Mount Talamitan, Mount Pico de Loro, and Mount Cayluya as a backdrop.

The space presents an interplay of timeless mid-century modern and industrial elements. The natural finish of the walls invokes a sleek modern appeal. Moreover, the combination of wood and concrete lends visual versatility to the entire scheme. The warmth and texture of reclaimed wood elements also complement the drama of natural concrete. The interior is a mix of two styles—Scandinavian and the traditional and minimalist elegance of the Japanese. The so-called Japandi style is characterized by mixing dark hues or black with light woods. Our accents are also monochromatic, with house plants and preserved flowers, adding vibrant touches to the space.

Photo by CAMPER AND CABIN.
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Our intention is also to merge the structure with the surrounding environment. The use of the same materials to its underfoot and overhead gives the space a sense of unity. More so, the integration of wood and natural materials, the natural lights freely pouring into the space, the clean lines and neutral colors—all these instantly connect the interior of the cabin to the mountain landscape outside.

Photo by CAMPER AND CABIN.

What can visitors expect at your properties?

It's quite interesting to note that consistently, our guests would comment the same thing—that they all felt like they are abroad while here. They would often say that Camper and Cabin exudes a different charm, where one can feel that they are in a far-off place, when in reality they are merely two hours away from Manila. Specifically, guests at Cabin 2 commented that the vista is reminiscent of the rolling hills of Napa Valley and Tuscany. Camper and Cabin offers a redefined R&R experience by combining the raw beauty of the countryside and the comforts of a boutique hotel. Our goal is to allow our guests to embrace the great outdoors while staying in modern accommodations. We take pride in our accommodation which individually offers a different kind of experience.

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Tell us more about the different properties.

Cabin 1 or the two-bedroom home caters to families or groups of six to eight persons. This mid-century modern cabin offers a cinematic view of both the mountain and sea. It has an outdoor breakfast nook, a sunken deck, and an infinity pool—all of which provide an amazing vista from every corner. Cabin 2 is perfect for couples looking for a secluded getaway. It has a spacious outdoor deck with a grilling area, hammock, and a swing. Guests at Cabin 2 may also enjoy the Celestron Astromaster telescope displayed in the living room for a nighttime viewing experience of the moon/stars. Camper and Cabin also prides itself as the first Airstream trailer accommodation in the Philippines. With its seamless blend of thoughtful design and its natural surroundings, guests at the Airstream can enjoy the spirit of camping while still embracing the comfort touches of home. The 25-footer Airstream interior invokes a Boho-chic vibe. It also has a spacious underground T&B.

Photo by CAMPER AND CABIN.
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What's there to do on the site?

Given the property's proximity to the famed Mount Batulao, it serves as a good jump-off point for hikers. Moving forward, we intend to partner with local guides to bring our guests on a hiking trip. Batulao road's scenic terrain is also perfect for biking, running, or simply strolling. If one is not up for physical activity, guests could just chill the entire day—relish the view, bond with families and friends over s'mores and bonfire, wine and dine at our outdoor decks, or simply laze around at the swing or hammock.

Will you be opening more locations in the future?

We dream of bringing the iconic silver-bullet travel trailers and signature cabins to different parts of the country for others to experience. We are looking at potentially building another site in a forested area. This time, the cabins would be a combination of glass and bamboo. In the future, we also dream of having a similar property near the ocean or beach. We plan on building series of earth cabins at Camper and Cabin Batulao in the near future. Carefully embedded in the landscape, the green-roofed cabins present an unconventional design innovation. The clever positioning of the earth cabins would allow the guests to enjoy the stunning views while preserving the natural shape of the mountain. Our target is to commence expansion in the third quarter of 2021. We are definitely excited about the earth cabins since this presents a new concept again—one that's unlike any other in the Philippines.

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Photo by CAMPER AND CABIN.

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Paolo Chua
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor of Esquire Philippines.
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