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Kitchen confidential

Exclusive island-community development teams up with two of the best European brands to outfit 16 bespoke villas

Images by Noel Pabalate

Ugen, the exclusive island-community development off Sorsogon, has partnered with high-end European brands Armani/Dada and Gaggenau in outfitting 16 “bespoke” villas out of a total of 68, which the Japanese-led company plans to build in the next two to three years. Clients and their interior designers can choose from and work around such themes as Pearl, Organic, and Raw to realize their dream kitchens.

Andrew Sparrow, Ugen’s CEO, announced the partnership recently with Venus Ngu, CEO of Cocina Mobile, Inc., exclusive local distributor of Italian-made Armani/Dada countertops and modular kitchen cabinets at the Cocina Mobile showroom at Bonifacio Global City.

Ugen is partnering with a different distributor to bring German-made Gaggeanau appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, temperature-controlled wine cabinets, induction hubs, microwave ovens, coffeemakers, and even plate warmers. At the same time, the company has also partnered with Danish brand Bang & Olufsen to provide its bespoke offerings with the latest audio and video systems.

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  • A nearly all-white pearl kitchen (Manila Bulletin)
  • Artist’s rendition of Ugen off Sorsogon (Manila Bulletin)
  • Kitchen showcase with raw, industrial vibe (Manila Bulletin)
  • Venus Ngu, CEO of Cocina Mobile and Andrew Sparrow, CEO of Ugen (Manila Bulletin)

Since Ugen’s bespoke villas deserve nothing but the best, Sparrow and his collaborators narrowed down their choices to three of the leading kitchen brands in the world in terms of appearance, quality, functionality, and track record. A good number of experts they asked also told them to go for Armani/Dada—a limited line of kitchen fixtures specially designed for Dada by seasoned fashion designer Giorgio Armani.

“The Armani in Dada takes the Dada line to a whole new level,” said the British-born Sparrow, whose earlier island-development projects include high-end private communities in the Caribbean, Maldives, and Seychelles. “The villas will be exposed directly and indirectly to harsh conditions like heat, humidity, and saltwater. We want to use world-class products that are not only beautiful and functional, but also come with a proven track record.”

“All the materials that make up the Armani/Dada line are based on Mr. Armani’s requirements,” Ngu added. “It took him, for instance, three to five years to approve the final design of one kitchen. He’s so meticulous. That’s how involved he is.”

As its name implies, the Pearl is made up of predominantly white materials, while the Organic look makes use mostly of various woods and stones. The Raw look, which is composed mostly of steel and concrete, is perhaps the most radical of the three themes. The look’s final outcome will also depend on the collaboration between client and people at Ugen. Although their choices are limited to the theme they chose, homeowners or their interior designers are allowed to tweak the look of the interiors to make them a tad unique and personalized.

“Gaggenau is known for its precision, while Dada is known for its design,” said Sparrow. “I believe that this project is going to be world-class in terms of the quality of design, construction, and finishes. Because everything is bespoke, we really need to work with our buyers.”

The Bang & Olufsen audio and video package Ugen offers is optional. Should you choose to get your entertainment showcase through Ugen, you are immediately spared from the headache of transporting the units, say, from Manila to Calintaan, site of the project, said Sparrow. Ugen is also working closely with its suppliers in setting up a 24-hour “turnaround maintenance system,” which ensures that these suppliers have spare products to readily provide homeowners.

“We also get wholesale prices for the appliances we bring in,” added Sparrow, who’s now on the island almost every weekend since the project was officially launched in late June. “It may be harder for individual homeowners to transport appliances to the island, but not for us because we have a barge where we can put all the appliances.”

When they first launched the project, Sparrow and his collaborators assumed that no more than 20 percent of their buyers would be local. To their surprise, Filipinos now make up at least 50 percent of Ugen’s actual and prospective buyers. A number of Japanese, Chinese, and Russian high-flying clients have also signed up. Apart from the country’s robust economy, Sparrow attributes this to the Filipino market’s growing “awareness and demand for quality.”