Meet Vianca Soleil, Interior Designer and Creator.

Meet Vianca Soleil, Interior Designer and Creator.
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There are few who dare to dream.

Vianca Soleil has created a coastal oasis in Puro, an intimate, untouched Island in the Philippines, leaving behind her former fast-paced city life in Dubai.

Puro is tucked away from modern civilisation, having been connected with electricity only three years ago. The tiny island is framed by white sand beaches dotted with palm trees and mangroves.

Vianca’s days are unrushed, spent immersed in nature, inspiring her creative spirit.

Vianca’s Instagram creates an oasis, sharing the beauty and simplicities of island life. We can escape, even for a moment, in the beautifully curated feed of Vianca’s idyllic island lifestyle. 

Here, we speak with Vianca on her journey to slow and mindful living, designing her dream home and how she stays connected whilst living on a remote island.

What began as a picturesque beach house, Unna, is evolving into an eco-resort, an immersive experience for travellers seeking authenticity. Where did the name Unna come from? It’s derived from the name Anna. I’ve always liked that name. It’s simple, easy on the ears and somehow romantic.  

Tell us about your vision for Unna as an eco-resort? Will guests experience the local culture and way of life in an Air B’n’B style accommodation, or can guests expect cooked meals and spa treatments? Our concept of Unna is still evolving especially now that today’s approach to travel and experiences have changed. At the core of it, the idea is to open our home and share to other travellers our Filipino island way of life. Days here are un-rushed and spent amongst nature and our small community. Yes, it’s like an Air BnB style accommodation but there will also be someone who can cook for you, unless you’d like to do the cooking as well. Nothing too fancy. Our idea of luxury is having your own private beach with the best of life’s simple pleasures. 

When designing your home, we know a lot of Inspiration come from your natural surroundings, including the ocean located at your doorstep. What design considerations did you need to make to accommodate and withstand tropical weather? Unna is comprised of huts with large openings to maximise the views around the property. This also helps interconnect the different spaces and makes the outside always part of moving around our home. Natural materials best fit a tropical setting but it’s also important to make sure the structures can withstand typhoons. Concrete columns are concealed in the wood planks and we prune the coconut trees close to the structures. Falling coconuts is something to be taken seriously!

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Your beach house is comprised of multiple huts, Bedroom, Kitchen and Dining etc. We are most intrigued and excited by your delightfully serene Living Hut, which has a sand floor, blending the home with the beach. Is there a downside to having a beach floor? The living hut isn’t elevated so my actual worry was keeping sand off the floor since the living area is the most used space in a home. So I thought, why not extend the sand inside to solve that problem. 

As an Interior Designer, it’s little surprise that the Romblon Province attracted you with its abundance of marble! Having collaborated with craftsmen in neighbouring islands to carve custom marble furniture, which pieces do you cherish the most? My favourite ones are these solid marble chairs which I found at the marble market on my first visit to Romblon five years ago. I hesitated on buying them because they were too heavy to bring back to Manila. I told myself, I’ll buy them if ever I end up moving here. Two years later, I came back to start building and the chairs were still there.

How has collaborating with local artisans and trades benefited your community? Working with local artisans is a big aspect of my work. The community should feel that they are part of what we’re creating. Since the build, we’ve been able to provide work for our neighbours and once we open, their livelihood will be integrated into the experience. We’ll continue to support and give importance to their skills. 

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What are some of the skills the island locals have been able to share with you? Aside from woodwork and marble-work, the beautiful art of weaving which is an important tangible expression of Filipino culture. Also, everyday skills like gardening, fishing and boat building.

Are there community activities or social gatherings which you’re a part of? Every now and then, we have an art contest for the children followed by games and a movie night. Our family has also extended help with food and medicine since the pandemic and we plan to have another medical mission now that the restrictions have eased up. 

Not being able to see family is one of the hardest struggles many of us have experienced over the past 2 challenging years. For yourself, how were you able to stay connected with friends and family? We’ve all experienced our own struggles and being able to look after ourselves and our loved ones is an achievement in itself during this trying time. Since my family is based in the city, group chats and zoom calls have really helped and I was able to visit them a couple of times. 

Were there any small acts of kindness you received during this time which left a lasting impression? I have the kindest neighbours. They often share fruits and vegetables from their garden. It’s like we have a common understanding that we have to look after one another since we live in a separate island with no establishments. They’ve become my family away from family.

Coming from a large family of Doctors, was it difficult for you to pursue a creative career and break away from this tradition? I wouldn’t say it was difficult but there were some uncertainties. My family has been very supportive of my creativity and I have them to thank for the confidence I’ve developed over the years as a creative.

Do you have any advice for those who are experiencing burnout in their careers or exhausted by their busy lives? Are there any aspects of island living which can be implemented into our city life? There’s great value in pushing ourselves and accomplishing much more than what we think we’re capable of but when it starts to make us feel overwhelmed and unhappy, it’s always okay to pause. A healthy state of being supersedes any other desire. It’s important that we take time to assess our thoughts and goals and perhaps make an effort to simplify some aspects in our everyday.

Do you have any guilty pleasures or things you like to indulge in with your island lifestyle. Sleeping in, two-hour shiatsus and drunken beach nights with friends. 

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Whilst adjusting to Island Life, were there any moments that caught you by surprise? After living here for more than two years, I’ve seen some really unforgettable sunrises and I’m just amazed at the little beautiful moments I get to witness everyday. Until now, there’s always something new I discover on the island.

As someone who loves adventure, where would you like to travel when it is safe to do so again? There’s still so many places on my list like Egypt, Morocco and Iceland but I’d love to go back to Japan first. I miss biking around, feeding the deers and eating all those cute Japanese sweets in Nara. I’ve been there twice with my family and it’s fondest memory from my travels.

That leads us to ask, how do you travel to and from the island? To get to the island, I take a 45 min plane ride from Manila to Tablas which is the main island then about an hour by land to Santa Fe which is our town, then a 10 min boat ride to Puro Island. It’s quite a trip but I’m used to it! 

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Do you use an alarm to wake up, or do you look to the sun and sea as your time keeper? I still use my phone alarm but over time, my body clock has gotten used to waking up by sunrise no matter what time I go to sleep. 

Who takes your photo’s when you are not behind the lens? My wonderful assistant Fely. She’s great in home upkeep but actually clueless about photography so I usually set up the tripod and she clicks away. It’s always a bit funny when we do it because I’m honestly quite awkward in front of the camera and she likes to jokingly direct me on how to pose. Fun times indeed! 

Are there any Island sayings or a quote which you would like to share with our readers? “In one’s own time.” It’s never too late and never too early to go after what it is we long for.

At Joslin, we share your value for mindful consumption. For yourself, where does this passion come from? When I was in my teens, I remember telling my dad this light switch needs to be replaced because it’s outdated. He then said why replace something that’s still serving its purpose. That really stuck with me. He taught me the value in resourcefulness and simplicity. Now, when I acquire something, I always consider quality and longevity. 

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What change would you like to see in the fashion industry? Beauty is subjective and it’s really okay to wear something that’s considered out of style. Perhaps we can forget about trends and shift focus to the craft and buy in support of the artist rather than buying something because it’s trendy. That could be another way for the fashion industry to slow down. 

What are your favourite pieces from Joslin’s Current or Past Collections? I’ve worn the Peta Linen Ramie Shirt and Sophia Linen Palazzo Pants too many times! They’re my favourite, as well as the Sakura Organic Cotton Midi Dress which I wore on my birthday!

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Follow Vianca Soleil on Instagram @ViancaSoleil

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