Stephanie Kinley Gonzalez on Natural Design and Her Book with Rizzoli New York – Yalla Match

Stephanie Kinley Gonzalez works in multitudes, not only in terms of the size and breadth where her work is located, but in the fact that all aspects of her work unite harmoniously. Her philosophy of Living with Purpose forms a tapestry among her many careers: President of local luxury furniture manufacturer and retailer Philux, member of the Board of Trustees of Habitat for Humanity, member of the Next Generation Board of WWF Philippines, Media Personality, and of course a loving wife and mother of three.

This year, Stephanie added another feather in her cap as the author of her first book embrace natural design, Which It was Published by the respected global publisher Rizzoli. Filled with exciting insights into her design philosophies, complimented by photos captured around the world, this coffee table book is the product of a beloved work compiled over a number of years.

We talk to the esteemed designer to discuss her personal journey around authorship and what she hopes the book will mean for Filipino readers.

What was your main purpose with writing? embrace natural design?

In fact, it all started with me documenting the interior design processes of my home and the velox. I felt it was such an amazing creative experience that I decided to document my work and projects even more. At one point a few years ago, I put together a good amount of material and developed the idea of ​​putting it all together in a book. Definitely a far-reaching project, but a prospect that got me excited.

In the end, Rizzoli expressed his interest. I contacted them directly and was pleasantly surprised when they returned to let me know they were eager to work with me. It convinced me that this was the right time to pursue a book – I had always dreamed that my work would even be considered by a publisher for its stature, so I decided to take this opportunity. At the end of the day, I planned to showcase the designer beauty by applying a natural design approach to spaces, as well as celebrating the art and craftsmanship of those I have worked with and admired for a long time. I wanted to emphasize my love for Philippine design and authentic spaces.

How do you define natural design in your own terms?

To me, natural design includes a number of aspects. The most tangible is the introduction of raw and organic materials in furniture, accessories, wallpaper, window treatments and other finishes as a way to give the outdoors a feel. Whether it is wood, textiles or stone, I feel these touches bring the elements a lot of warmth and comfort, and bring a rich sense of materiality and texture to the space.

Another would be to include conscious local craftsmanship. I find the elements rooted in design choices made with the goal of uplifting local communities the most appealing. The same for things that are specifically designed and manufactured to recycle existing materials or to have a lighter impact on the environment. It adds another layer of substance to the landscape design concept and demonstrates the breadth of opportunities to apply a landscape design approach to the project.

The book contains people and places from around the world, including our very own Kenneth Cobonbio. How does Filipino design fit into the context of your book with the rest of the world?

A portion of the book is devoted to the categorization of individuals such as the Philippine creators Kenneth Cobonbio, Bee, Marja Valdes, and Olivia Daboville. I really wanted to emphasize their work ethic, design philosophy and their interpretation of Philippine design in their craft.

Pia and Marja, for example, focused on empowering the local female workforce and upgrading the slow and conscious craftsmanship – where women work harmoniously side by side in their art. Through their work, whether it is a textile or a fashion accessory, they celebrate local traditions and convey a beautiful message of solidarity, community, women empowerment and the preservation of traditions.

On the other hand, Olivia has focused on sustainability throughout her career. She often works with subsistence software and uses beautiful Filipino materials such as between else abaca my eyes. Kenneth does the same thing but in his own way. What makes it interesting is that it is able to seamlessly translate a mix of local influences into pieces that are very contemporary and can compete with global design players.

Because the Philippines is rich in natural resources, the Philippines has generated visionaries who could translate those materials and sources of inspiration into incredible works of art worthy of the world stage. And I’m glad to be able to celebrate it in the book.

Given that you wear a lot of hats, how did you find a balance between all your current responsibilities and working on a book at the same time?

It is definitely a process that is constantly evolving. I felt like I was finally getting into a rhythm, and then our third daughter came into our lives just three months ago, and changed the equation again. But at the end of the day, it’s all about finding your true goal, setting your focus, and working tirelessly to achieve it.

The usual answers for time management and work-life balance are key. What has resonated recently, however, is a quote from Steve Jobs that appeared in an article I read – which says that good leaders should say no to hundreds of things. Putting it in a more positive perspective, by being considerate about what to say “yes” and ultimately what to do, allows one time, energy and mental and physical abilities to just focus on what is align with your goal and work to achieve specific goals. , rather than getting lost in the madness that life can sometimes bring.

I also want to ask about the journey of being a writer or writer. Were there any personal insights you gained when you completed the book?

First, I would say, follow your intuition. Publishing a book like this has always been a dream and something I thought I had the ability to pursue. But because I had no experience in this field, I always maintained a sense of doubt. However, I decided to follow my intuition — with determination and a little courage, I reached out to Rizzoli. My husband may have thought I had lost my head, but I discovered that the worst that could happen was that I would be rejected, with which I could live. In the end, it all worked out, and if I had not pushed myself in the first place to reach out to the publisher, I would not have been here today.

Second, feel free to reach out to others for their guidance. This process was completely new to me, but working with other people in the field made it easier and more fulfilling. I am honored to work with my collaborators in South Africa, my editors in New York, and numerous other people from Manila and other parts of the world whose expertise shaped this project and who were instrumental in this journey.

Embracing natural design is available worldwide. Visit for more information.

Photos submitted by Stephanie Kinley Gonzalez

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