Open Dining Area – East Ocean Palace, Parañaque City
We, Filipinos, like to eat. Correction: we love to eat. Any event needs to be punctuated with excellent food. Milestones both minor and major–Buboy’s highschool graduation, Pareng Emong gets confirmed as a Catholic, Eli’s despedida, even if he’s just going abroad for a couple of months—receives catering. Or a visit at a swanky restaurant. Or even a homestyle fiesta care of the many nanays, titos, lolas, and kuyas who want to flex their culinary skills. Recipes are handed down through generations like they’re a birthright. Parties and other social gatherings become a valid excuse to miscount your calories for the sake of good times with great people. For us, food is not just a basic need—it’s a way of life.
And as a way of life, people have understood that food can also become a career. The carinderia is a Filipino symbol for family and community. Fast food chains litter every block in Metro Manila’s urban labyrinth. Specialty places thrive in niche locations. You can start a kiosk that only sells mozzarella by-products and still sell out. Above all these local haunts, however, is the universal, the quintessential buffet. A gourmand’s Eden, a buffet is just the place to get your fill of dishes from around the world all within the comforts of your seat. Buffets in the Philippines run the gamut from grill-all-you-can Korean barbecues, Filipino food fests that emulate the diverse and authentic fiesta experience, and the gastronomic food sprawls thatboast multi-cultural dishes and cuisines.
Not all buffets are created equal though. Taste is one factor dictated by chefs or food scientists. Everything else, however, falls within the realm of design. No one knows this more than Arch. Joel Aranda of AnD Associates Inc. As the co-owner of the multidisciplinary AnD Associates, Arch. Joel Aranda and his partners, Archs. Allan and Chris Dalid, are tireless in their pursuit of retail design. Branching out and finding their place in the food & beverage arm of retail design, Arch. Aranda and his team understand how to tackle the challenges of crafting an efficient and aesthetic buffet restaurant.
Grand Staircase – East Ocean Palace, Parañaque City
from top left
VIP Room, Grand Ballroom,
Pre Function, Function Room
East Ocean Palace, Parañaque City
AnD Associates Inc. is a multidisciplinary firm in the bustling business district of Makati. Founded through the collaboration of Arch. Joel Aranda with the brothers Archs. Allan and Chris Dalid, AnD Associates Inc. caters to design, architecture, and master planning. Though they aren’t focused on retail design, Arch. Aranda and his team have enjoyed a reputation as professionals in the field. Now celebrating their 10th year, AnD Associates Inc. has seen itself grow and transform into a team of 20 strong, offering their services and collaborating with clients.
Retail design is a creative and commercial discipline that combines several different areas of expertise together in the design and construction of retail space. Specializing in the practices of architecture and interior design, retail design incorporates and accounts for several elements of the retail (or in this case, dining) experience. Interior decoration, ergonomics, graphic design, industrial design, and even advertising. AnD Associates delves into food & beverage retail design, which allows them to influence the overall aesthetic and layout of restaurants, cafes, and other food related structures.
from top left clockwise
Bar Area, Buffet Counter, Show Kitchen, VIP Area
Henann Palm Beach Resort, Boracay
bottom Nightclub Henann West
A Lasting Flavor
Malcolm Gladwell once said, “We don’t know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don’t always appreciate their fragility.” Arch. Aranda demonstrates an awareness of this fragility whenever he comes up with a good design for a restaurant. He mentions the importance of two concepts: the first impression and the lasting impression. The first impression is just that: a way to forge a connection with people to get them through the door, “If it’s a new concept, people won’t automatically
jump in. We need to figure out way to attract people, for customers to try [the establishment] out.”
Once inside, the designer then turns the key and unlocks the lasting impression. The restaurant should not just be about the food—it should be about the experience. “[The lasting impression] should be impactful,” Arch. Aranda shares. Perfecting a restaurant’s lasting impression is markedly different from a regular retail store’s. Shoe brands, for example, already have the weight of their branding at their backs, “When you go inside a branded shoe store, you already know what to expect.” This makes sense. Sneakerheads making a run already know what they want. But restaurants are different. From entrance to seating, from the appetizers to dessert, from the windows to the walls, restaurants need to declare their identity through the language of design. Even well-established franchises and ever-present fastfood chains need to recalibrate their store identity “every three to five years,” because markets and customers base change with time. “What kind of experience do you want to give to your customers?” Arch. Aranda asks. “They need to have an experience. For you to draw them to try it out, you need to give them an experience.”
from top left clockwise
Al Fresco, Buffet, Dining Areas 1 and 2,
Henann Park, Boracay
“Design is intelligence made visible” is an old design adage. This intelligence can manifest itself in different ways, and in the disciple of food and restaurant retail design, good design thinks about the full customer experience. As such, there’s quite a lot of psychology involved. “You have to get into the mind of the customer. It’s not just about the quality of the food.” Arch. Aranda emphasizes the huge barrier of having an unattractive space. “You won’t be able to showcase how good your food is without a well-designed restaurant.” And in a fast-paced arenas of Instagram, Yelp, and Zomato, it is evident that aesthetics and ambiance are about just as significant as
food and service quality.
AnD Associates Inc. keen interest in these invisible details can be attributed to the successes they’ve enjoyed. Arch. Aranda testifies that they’ve never advertised or marketed themselves in their whole 10 years. All of the projects they’ve landed were referred to them. “And the referrals came from past clients themselves,” Arch. Aranda is quick to add. For AnD Associates Inc., their own body of work is their proof of concept. Clients identify that Aranda’s team goes above and beyond what’s required. “We treat our clients like they’re family. They can call me anytime they want. They can invite me wherever. Building this relationship is very important,” Arch. Aranda states
Black Sheep Coffee MNL
Dinner with Friends
Collaboration between clients and designers is a crucial aspect in every kind of project. This significance is emphasized even in the very name of Aranda and the Dalids’ company. Aranda elaborates, “AnD Associates [Inc.] is spelled with an ‘N’ not spelled with an ampersand, so if we collaborate with you, it will sound like ‘John… and associates’. Every client is a partner.Anyone who enters our doors is part of our process.”
This is evident in their strong relationship with a repeat client, the buffet giant, Vikings. Boasting of 12 branches all over the Philippines, Vikings offers arguably the best buffet experience in the country. Each Vikings branch is distinct and elegantly themed. The Mall of Asia flagship store is Norse-inspired. The SM Megamall branch is laid out like a modern art museum. SM City Bacolod’s store features a star studded Manhattan-esque nightscape. Every Vikings store is unique, while still belying a strong sense of unity and consistent identity, all carefully curated by Arch. Aranda and his team. “For me, design should be versatile and flexible. I’m not strict when it comes to design, and our main strength is our ability to really give our clients what they want. A designer may want to stick with a complicated, avant-garde style. It might be good, but if his punctuality is being compromised, he may want to reconsider his priorities.” Function and aesthetic may be important, but the relationship you form during collaboration trumps all.
“For me, design should be versatile and flexible. I’m not strict when it comes to design, and our main strength is our ability to really give our clients what they want. A designer may want to stick with a complicated, avant-garde style. It might be good, but if his punctuality is being compromised, he may want to reconsider his priorities.”
Dining Area 1, Entrace Bar,
Buffet Area, Dining Area 2
The Alley by Vikings
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
“It’s hard to be an architect, but once you see something you and your team have built standing, it’s worth it.
And what better place to develop these bonds than in the work place. Working with a team of 20 people has its benefits. It’s a big enough number to introduce different voices and diverse viewpoints, but not too big to drown anybody out. “I’m working with an incredibly dynamic team. The workplace here is probably really different. I want everyone to feel light when they’re working with one another. I’m most happy working when I’m collaborating.” Arch. Aranda is the first to hype the value of teamwork along with the humility and empathy it can impart. “If you’re just working on your own, you will stagnate. Even if I’m one of the CEOs, I don’t believe that I’m always the right person to decide certain things. Working with a younger crowd freshens my perspective. I love designing things, I love creating, but love collaborating.” The act of creation is a rewarding endeavor, but it’s even more so when you’re working together with other people. You get to spend time with them, deal with setbacks together, support one another through difficult times, and ultimately, reap the rewards as a collective. “It’s hard to be an architect, but once you see something you and your team have built standing, it’s worth it.
The Alley by Vikings
Ayala Cloverleaf, Quezon City
Capitol Commons, Pasig City
from top left clockwise
Lobby, Dining La Vita, Bar and Lounge, Gaming Lounge
Marina Bay Spa and Lifestyle Club, Pasay City
In Filipino culture and history, food has always been considereda centerpiece. Although food is the focus, what truly matters are the experiences that radiate from its consumption. The joy of celebration. The commiseration in mutual struggle. The satisfaction of a job well done. That simple, unexplainable feeling of just catching up with an old friend. Likewise, for Arch. Aranda and AnD Associates Inc., design is at the center, but what’s truly genuine and important are what surrounds it. The excitement of working towards a goal. The fulfilment of a longterm project. The elation of turnovers. The companionship forged in the boardroom. AnD Associates Inc. knows it’s working with good people and accomplishing good projects. They’re looking forward to keep doing what they do best. So pull up a chair, see what they have on the menu, and please—enjoy your stay. D+C
WORDS: Lean Panganiban
IMAGES: AnD Associates