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The husband-and wife duo of Z and Aivee Teo open the A-Institute, a health and wellness center with streamlined interiors teeming with contemporary Parisian vibe designed to appeal to both men and women.

Images by Noel Pabalate

Drs. Z and Aivee Teo describe the newly opened A-Institute at Burgos Park Building in Taguig as an “accumulation” of what they have in their older beauty clinics. Yet the place, with its modern, French-inspired interiors featuring chevron-patterned black-and-white marble floors from Italy, a series of gold lighting fixtures by Tom Dixon, and streamlined furniture pieces from Fritz Hansen, looks totally different and much bigger than any of their other existing facilities.

“It’s a different take from our Aivee Clinics, which primarily address skin conditions through various non-invasive treatments and procedures,” said Aivee.

As a lifestyle and wellness center, the A-Institute offers a more holistic approach to health and beauty with several labs to address such concerns as hair, snoring, slimming, and even orthosports for amateur and professional athletes. Boxer-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao is said to regularly go to the A-Institute’s orthosports lab.

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  • Drs. Aivee and Z Teo, with a painting of Swedish American artist Anna Halldin-Maulde behind them (Manila Bulletin)
  • Minimalist but luxurious feel down to the choice of neutral-colored furniture pieces (Manila Bulletin)
  • Hair pods inspired by the first class section of an airline (Manila Bulletin)
  • A recovery room for patients who underwent surgery (Manila Bulletin)
  • Painting of Filipino artist Arthur Caringal at the A-Institute’s ‘art wall.’ (Manila Bulletin)

As an aesthetic surgery center, the A-Institute also houses three operating rooms where invasive procedures like liposuction, breast augmentation, tummy tucks, eye procedures, and nose jobs are done. Like a high-end medical center, it also has two posh recovery rooms with their respective hospital beds, tufted sofas, flat-screen TVs, and showers.

“Since we are also into lifestyle and wellness, our approach is very holistic,” said Z. “The range of services we offer at A-Institute is designed to address the body inside out.”

An integral approach to wellness is the inclusion of Aivee Café, the first of its kind in the Philippines, which serves separate sets of organic and tasty menus for regular diners as well as weight watchers. An in-house chef and nutritionist are also in charge of designing meal plans to be delivered to selected clients. From time to time, Aivee Café has guest chefs and nutritionists to beef up its regular offerings. Just recently, Singaporean chef Alicia Lip, author of Raw Vegan on the Fast Lane, flew to Manila and shared some of her more popular dishes with the Aivee Café team.

“Sending our clients nutritious and low-calorie meals is part of the nutritional planning services we offer at A-Institute,” said Aivee. “The meals are designed based on their needs and objectives. Our priority at Aivee Café will always be our clients and their companions, but everyone is welcome to try our food.”

Style-wise, it took the couple, who again collaborated with Singapore-based interior designer Malcolm Chua of Avid Interiors, 20 months to turn their vision into reality. In fact, the couple reserved the space as soon as Megaworld began constructing the building more than two years ago. Their vigilance paid off, as they were able to get the building’s entire third level measuring 1,200 square meters all to themselves.

The development dovetails with their objective of housing everything on one floor, including a modest-sized corporate office. The Teos also want the A-Institute within walking distance from their Aivee Clinic’s Burgos Circle branch. To Kevin Tan’s credit, the first vice president and commercial division head of Megaworld immediately said yes to their request.

“We began working with Malcolm even while the building was under construction,” said Z, a native of Singapore. “We’ve had a number of revisions until we finally arrived at a look that’s ideal for our clientele.”

Although the A-Institute’s “style DNA” is still very French, it’s more gender-neutral compared to the French-inspired, arguably more feminine interiors evident in a number of Aivee Clinic branches. In lieu of lavender and pink walls that appeal more to women, for instance, the trio settled for off-white and grey walls at the A-Institute’s spacious receiving area.

They also ditched dangling crystal chandeliers in favor of Dixon’s orb-like lighting fixtures in gold. Instead of a mirror-wrapped counter like the one in Alabang, the A-Institute’s marble-topped counter is clad in matte gold metal. The only feature they retained from their Aivee Clinics is the use of bold and printed wall-to-wall carpets in a number rooms, including Aivee’s consultation room.

“Like in our other facilities, the lobby has to be substantial, spacious, and inviting,” said Aivee. “Space is very important. That’s why all our lobbies should exude that feeling of luxury and openness.”

The feeling of openness is further underscored by the abundance of picture windows at the A-Institute, which provides an interesting view of thriving Bonifacio Global City below, including  nearby Manila Golf and Country Club. Even its Artas robotics room, where state-of-the-art hair transplants are done, didn’t escape their American friends’ notice.

“When the Americans from Artas came and saw the Artas robotics room, they said that it’s one of the most beautiful Artas rooms they’ve seen,” said Z. The Artas robotics room as well as all the labs, recovery rooms, and operating rooms are located at the A-Institute’s ring wing.

Since the A-Institute’s services are geared for everyone, the three decided early on to come up with interiors that appeal to both men and women. Apart from Dixon’s lighting fixtures, which the couple bought in London, shipped to Singapore, and later handcarried to Manila, Chua designed a striking ceiling treatment consisting of a series of coves housing pin lights and various sources of indirect lighting. The hair lab is composed of a series of futuristic white pods inspired by A-380 airline seats in Singapore Airline’s first-class section.

Since they share a love for the arts, the couple made room for art objects to be displayed in the A-Institute’s public areas, including Aivee’s consultation room. Z envisions a wall in the lobby, where a huge oil painting of Filipino artist Arthur Caringal now hangs, as a “revolving” venue to feature other artists.

“We want the main wall at the lobby to be an art wall,” said Z. “I’m still in talks with certain local galleries for us to temporarily feature some of their works of art. We envision the high-traffic area to provide exposure to established as well as up-and-coming Filipino artists. By constantly changing the art, it would also give our clients more reasons to visit us and perhaps take selfies with the paintings behind them.”

It remains to be seen if the couple is willing to part with an oil painting of Swedish-American artist  Anna Halldin-Maule, which is hung on the wall of Aivee’s consultation room. The painting, which they acquired while attending a medical seminar in San Francisco two years ago, is special to them, especially to Aivee. It features a nude woman with her face covered by a scarf.

“There was a gallery beside our hotel,” said Aivee. “We visited it one day and an oil painting caught my attention. It turned out to be Anna Halldin-Maulde’s work. I told Z that I wanted it for my consultation room.” While they were still conceptualizing on the venue’s design, the painting found a place of honor in the Teo family’s home in Singapore. As Chua and his team were putting the finishing touches to the A-Institute, the couple had the painting shipped from Singapore to Manila a few months ago in time for the venue’s soft opening last July.