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Kitty Bunag lives and breathes design – so much so that she sees the world in a grid. The interior design consultant and photographer, who is also co-founder of design and creative council Craftsmith Guild and travel brand Nomadic Tendencies, found purpose and healing in art – and believes that design is a platform for improving lives.

We caught up with Kitty at Southbank Café + Lounge, one of her recent design projects, where we got a glimpse of her in action.  

How did you discover your passion for design and photography?

“I’ve always had the need for art in my life since I was young. I studied Interior Design in college then after college, I took on a corporate job but still practiced design on the side. I did everything all at once and reached a point of burn out so I had to choose which path I wanted to take."

"I did business full-time in the recent years. I went into jewelry design in 2005 then I studied photography in 2008. I co-founded Craftsmith Living, now called Craftsmith Guild, with my cousin-in-law and business partner Mia de Lara, in 2013 and that’s when I decided to do photography and interior styling full-time. It’s really through Craftsmith that I evolved as a stylist and as a designer.”

Kitty styles a holiday-themed table setting using pieces from Lady Scott Jones 

How would you describe the role of art in your life?

“I lost my parents at an early age. When my mom died, that was the time when I really focused on space design and styling. When my dad died, that’s when I took up photography. And then after my dad died, I had a miscarriage and that was around the time Craftsmith Living started. I really turned to art for healing."

Kitty wearing a stack of Zahava and Dahna bracelets

"They say when you have kids, you might not be able to do all the things you want to do but it’s the complete opposite for me. Everything happened when had children – they’re my lucky charms.”

Kitty wearing the Eyla earrings with the Celeste beaded necklace and Nolee multi-charm necklace 

How would you describe your aesthetic?

“I call it un-styled or lived in. I want spaces to look authentic as if it’s well-lived in as opposed to being overly styled or decorated. I gravitate towards natural materials like wood, abaca and even rust as well as weathered-looking pieces. Not necessarily rustic but things that can give warmth to modern pieces and cold structures.”

Kitty wearing the Amya earringsOdette 3-layer necklace and a stack of Femi and Ostara bracelets 

“The principles that I apply when I design spaces come from my interior design and photography background, and the same ones apply: playing with color, texture, patterns, the rule of thirds, symmetry. And yes, they merge. When I conduct my workshops, I always say I see the world in a grid.”

What was your vision when you designed Southbank’s interiors?

“Southbank is founded by a group of friends so it had to feel like their playground. It’s Melbourne-inspired so it’s a mix of industrial, botanical and a bit of mid-century modern. When I design something, especially for a client, it must be about them. But my personal touch would somehow come out in terms of how I cozy pieces up together.”

What are you currently working on?

“I‘m currently teaching a certificate course on Event Design at SoFa Design Institute. Aside from that, we’re working closely with DTI-CITEM and different companies all over the Philippines. We’re doing product development, design and styling for the upcoming Ambiente 2020, a trade fair that will be held in Germany. The Philippines will be participating there and will occupy 2 big halls. We are helping DTI-CITEM to position the country in the global market through art and design. These are mostly SMEs but we’re also working with big companies who are already into exporting.”

Kitty goes maximalist with the Alaina earringsStamp Monogram necklace, Lyra statement chain, and Adela beaded necklace

“I find this project fulfilling because it has a long-term effect not just on these small businesses but also to the country as a whole. Design, no matter what form, must improve lives – the end-user and the creator – and this has always been my philosophy. And I see that with what we’re doing for this project.”

Handling multiple projects must take a toll on you. How do you recharge?

 “I travel to unplug. I go on solo trips from time to time to recalibrate. Bali is a current favorite.”

What’s your advice to creatives who want to pursue different passions?

"Everything about design is intertwined. The disciplines of one creative pursuit, no matter how small, can be applied to the next."

Kitty wearing the Emeline earrings, Celeste multi-colored necklace, and Margot necklace 

"Wherever you are, whatever you do, take what’s good. Pursue, struggle for and live for what inspires you."

Follow Kitty: @kwittyb

Follow Craftsmith Guild: @craftsmithguild

Photography by Kitty Bunag & Sheila Catilo (@sheilacatilo)  

Shot on location at Southbank Cafe + Lounge (@southbankcafelounge

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