Even when she was younger, Gayle Ocampo already showed interest in design. Having grown up in a multi-cultural environment she was exposed to people of different nationalities and it's these experiences that influence her work in design. With her growing body of work in product styling, food styling and interior concepts, Gayle's style is a combination of sophistication and classic design with the occasional quirky piece, which is clearly a reflection of her personality. Gayle's modern-glam approach is tuned in with today's design aesthetic and it's no coincidence that her talents are often utilize by stylish companies such as H&M home, SMDC, Rockwell Primaries as well as prominent figures and local celebrities alike. We speak to Gayle about her interesting background growing up, her design philosophy and her tips for decorating your own space.
Photo taken by Jamie Espadilla-Mapagu
Make up by Jerome Bustamante of Bobbi Brown
Shoot location at Mos Design
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to be what you are today?
I grew up in Qatar for the most part of grade school until high school. I came back to the Philippines for college. But it was really being immersed with different nationalities that came from diverse backgrounds and cultures that helped me develop my personality because I was such a shy type growing up. Imagine being one of the few Filipino students in a British school, it was quite intimidating at first because I couldn’t speak English as well as them. I think the British curriculum called General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) really helped me shape my interests for what I’m pursuing now. We get to take 4 major subjects that we wanted to focus on in Year 9 and I chose Design, Technology, Art, Business Studies and French. That’s where I really got involved in learning the basics from conceptualizing and presenting designs, how to work with machines, sanding and painting, and the basics of running a business. Living abroad taught me how to be independent, outspoken and become a forward thinker. Traveling and seeing the different architectures and interiors inspired me to say to myself “I want to do that one day.” I knew that I wanted to focus on styling, design and to start a business that ties all of that together. I decided to take up Interior design in De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in consortium with Philippine School of Interior Design. Then I worked at Condo Living magazine for four years. I wanted to hone my styling skill which was perfect because I had the freedom to work with different design styles and stores that the target market needed. Apart from styling interior spaces, I was also able to focus on styling food and events. I learned a lot from talented people in the business, and I think that’s what inspired me to start my own brand and business.
How do you typically start your day?
I wake up at around 7:30am to have breakfast. I have to jumpstart my day with coffee because I’m really not a morning person. I check my emails and Viber over breakfast then I head out at around 9am.
You seem like you're a good multi-tasker, how do you manage it all?
Google calendar is my life! I’m not a planner-type of girl because I don’t think everything I do will fit in the tiny boxes and I usually won’t bring my planner if it makes my bag heavy. I prefer Google calendar because I can easily change schedules, locations and even assign colors per client so it’s more organized. I’m actually not sure how I manage it all but maybe it’s because I don’t like wasting time. Plus I don’t drive so I can use every chance I get while I’m in the car to look for pegs on Pinterest or answer emails.
Were you always interested in design?
Actually I really wanted to be an Events organizer but there’s no course for that so I pursued something that would help me with that one day which was Interior design. But it’s funny since I had no idea that interior design would end up being my passion. Especially styling for different clients is really fulfilling.
When designing a room what is the most important factor for you?
It’s definitely the space planning. It’s the challenge of how you can maximize the space despite the size, and to make sure that it fits the client’s lifestyle and needs above anything else.
Which hotels/establishments have you been to that have interiors that impressed you?
The Nest, Refinery, The Girl + Bull, Te Amo Floristeria, Toby’s Estate
Which is the hardest thing to do - food styling, product shoot or interior concepts?
I think they all have their own set of challenges but it would probably be conceptualizing interior spaces. Apart from what your client wants there are a lot of restrictions that you have to consider like the budget, timeline and construction guidelines. Unlike just styling for food or products, it’s much more flexible.
In terms of entertaining guests how would you rank venue, beautiful lighting, great music or good food in order of importance?
Wow, this is a tough one. It’ll probably be venue, good food, beautiful lighting then great music.
What are you currently obsessing on with regards to design?
Its interiors and accessories with a black, white and gold design! I love how sophisticated and minimalist it looks.
Any design tips for our readers?
My tip would be not to rush when it comes to your purchases. You should really plan out how you’ll use the space and what kind of furniture pieces you need. It’s important to do this so you know what the size for each piece should be. That way you don’t end up getting something too big or too small for your space. Next is to decide the design style you want for your space so you can narrow down the furniture stores that you need to go to. Usually stores have a specialized design style so if you feel that it’s not the look that you have in mind then you don’t have to waste time going to it. When you do see a piece that you like, usually the store can change the wood finish or fabric so keep in mind that you have options so your pieces looks more cohesive especially if you’re buying from different stores. Lastly, don’t be shy to ask if the store offers discounts.
What makes you happy?
It’s really my client’s reaction when they see the outcome of what I styled for them. It’s always a rewarding feeling because it’s not always easy to decipher what your client wants and if you can translate it into reality.
See more of Gayle's work:
Photos as seen in Condo Living