Finding inspiration in other places

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of Philippines  , Luzon,
Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Came across this piece about someone finding inspiration while travelling, then taking it back home to create some small kind of paradise:

How to design a world of bliss

By Marge C. Enriquez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:28:00 09/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines-Bliss Café in Baguio is an enclave for artists, spiritual seekers and health buffs who want organic vegetarian meals. It has had three reincarnations, the latest of which is at the Hotel Elizabeth near Wright Park.

The décor scheme is guided by the philosophies of the owners, Jim Ward and his wife Shanti, the chef and chief operations head.

Ward is a Buddhist while Shanti practices Ananda Marga meditation. Hence, the overall color scheme is orange-five shades of it-patterned after the saffron drapes of the Buddhist monk or the lighter orange of the Margi robe. "The color is comforting to us," he says.

The walls carry orange in graduating tones, which look stunning when captured by the light. Ward adds that orange also reflects the shade of the sunset in Baguio.

Taking into consideration how natural light fills up the veranda, Ward favored mustard yellow. These two colors maintain a powerful vibrancy in strong sunlight. They promote a sense of well-being and make the place more inviting and immediately perk up the spirits.

A hot color scheme also creates an active setting, promoting the energies for conversation, entertainment and dining. Shades of orange are distributed throughout the main area so that it would not be overpowering.

Focal point

The furniture arrangement and decorative scheme are firmly rooted in Ward's spiritual practice. Most dining places would have the social hub or dining table as focal point.

At Bliss Café, the focal point is the wood-carved shrine which gives the place its unique personality. Fresh flowers and prayers are offered at the opening and closing of Bliss daily. According to the couple, this practice reminds them that there is a higher purpose to their operation of Bliss.

The Buddhist principle of non-attachment and impermanence has also influenced the look.

"I like the idea of change. In Buddhism, you don't get attached to the way something looks today," says Ward. He adds that he was also inspired by the National Museum in Taipei which changes its exhibits twice a year, thereby creating a whole new look.

The Wards love color and art. The chairs never match colors and each of the tablecloths has unique designs reflecting '60s motifs such as contrasting polka dots and paisley prints. Bliss Café's look is also driven by the artists' exhibits.

"Once their shows are set, we work our objects around the shows," says Ward.


Ward's personal collection has been gathered from trips around Asia, such as gongs from Medan, a money god wood carving from Yunnan province and a sun carving from Venice, Italy.

"Influences come from such diverse memories as my favorite backpacker visiting a cafe in Lijiang, or listening to music at the former Sanctum in Intramuros or a small jazz club in the back streets of Tokyo, which I used to frequent in the '70s," he says.

The place is also filled with Indian deities, gewgaws from Asia and a library of photography books.

"Our formula is simple: If we could find our own 'Bliss'-a place of knowledge, community interaction, holistic food, arts and dance, then perhaps others might see or enjoy those same elements," says Ward.

For details, contact 074-6190367 or 0917-8464729 or visit Located at Hotel Elizabeth on Gibraltar Street, Baguio.
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