VIANCA SOLEIL ROQUERO
We’ve long been inspired by Vianca Soleil’s renowned visuals that bring a warm sensibility to minimalist design. We were delighted to have a moment with her to talk about objects & journeys. And, when you speak with her it becomes immediately clear she has a heart for people and is passionate about making a positive impact on the world through thoughtfully designed experiences. Vianca is redefining the slow-living aesthetic, by mixing mediums & methods. She’s currently living and creating on the remote island of Puro in Romblon, Philippines. A true secluded sanctuary, you can walk the span of the island on foot in 1.5 hours. Vianca has set out to bring her wealth of experience as an Interior Designer - to the island as a minimalist Eco Resort (Project UNNA). We especially admire the fact that this endeavor will bring new ways to help the locals.
Vianca grew up in the bustling capital city Manilla & went on to spend years working in Dubai. However, Vianca’s fondest memories were slow-going family road trips to the beach - there was an ever-present dream to one day build one of her own. You get the sense that Vianca is doing something much more meaningful than appealing to wanderlust, she's establishing a legacy.
If I had to pick an object, it would be the backpack I found on a trip to Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao Province with my mom just before the Covid Pandemic - such a fond memory. My mom and I were so happy to have found it! It’s an antique bag that if I had to guess, I’d say was made in the 50s. It’s handmade from dried palm and layers of straw. It was commonly used by farmers traveling up & down the mountainside rice terraces.
I like the idea that during the time of its creation, being in these remote places meant - if you needed something - you had to make it yourself. I endear old hand-made Filipino pieces. It’s a meaningful part of our culture. Honest and pure, with creativity arising out of necessity.
A few of the details I love. The oversized woven straps, and the back-facing side which is woven rattan that has faded in so nicely - I particularly admire how it ages over repeated use. You can tell it’s really been used and has a story that lives in the materials.
Tell us about a time it was hard to be yourself, or when being yourself led to a breakthrough?
This was a hard one. The moment that comes to mind - and it's such a BIG part of me - is when my father passed away. I was working in Dubai and wasn’t able to make it back home in time. This stayed with me.
After, I developed overwhelming fear. I began to find fear in everything, and I questioned everything.
I wasn’t myself. That helpless feeling, and so many things being beyond my control. I over-worried about something bad happening and I’d be helpless again.
Sure, I had the dream Interior Designer existence in Dubai - but I was away from the people that mattered most & when it mattered most. One day the noise stopped - everything set in - there was a breakthrough - I wanted to be more like my Dad. I wanted to recreate the beloved family beach trips - and I set out to bring that childhood dream of island life.
Anxiety, fear, and worry left and excitement took its place. Working on this was going to be my path to healing and a reconnection to things that matter the most. A two-year transition back home happened, and I used the time to travel and plan for Unna. With the help of family - “ I was going to do it .”
I began location scouting and discovered Puro - instantly I fell in love - a beachfront lot so beautifully sandwiched between the Ocean and the Mangroves. My siblings are my partners and it’s now evolved into a small resort for us to share with other travelers.
It’s not been a walk in the park. In some ways, you’re living the dream, but the logistics of building on a secluded island is a continual challenge among others. It’s a new journey and we’re sort of building the plane as it’s taking off.
I’m trying to unlearn my design sensibilities when I was based in the city - to grow more respectful of nature and to be more intentional. I’m in no hurry, this is my life project.
My dad settled in the province. He was the town doctor and built a hospital with my mom and later became a politician - he really dedicated his life to helping people. He was a simple guy, practical and so passionate about his work. He is my idol.
Even if I chose a different career, in some way, I’d like to emulate him. Through Unna, I try to be useful to my community. It’s come full circle. We’re discovering more ways to help the community through design such as skill development and creative outlets for the kids. This project is providing livelihood and opportunities for everyone involved - it’s such a blessing.
I think my dad would be proud.
WHAT’S SOMETHING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT VIANCA, THAT YOU’D WANT EVERYONE TO HEAR?
On social, I may come off as mysterious & serious - but the people I’m closest to know me as clumsy & funny. I’m not the girl with the perfectly styled existence - taking all the scenic pictures. I’m kind of a nerd - I obsess over documentaries about aliens and space. My secret dream was to be a scientist or archeologist, even one day - working for NASA - but realistically - I don’t think I’d be able to handle it. I still prefer creative work.
ABOUTVianca Soleil Roquero is an interior designer, photographer and founder