This purposeful partnership between luxury car brand and renowned Filipino designer celebrates their shared value of exquisite craftsmanship.
Lexus Drive, hosted by Rita Nazareno began with a quick trip to Lexus Mitsukoshi in BGC, followed by a visit to the SC Vizcarra studio along Roxas Boulevard, and finally a culinary adventure by Chef Victor Magsaysay at Preciosa Farm in Alfonso, Cavite.
As soon as Jade Sison, brand manager for Lexus Philippines welcomed us in their BGC showroom for Lexus Drive X Rita Nazareno, I instantly understood the endeavor as a purposeful partnership spurned by their shared value of craftsmanship as true luxury.
Beyond her role as creative director for their family-owned business Zacarias 1925, a brand of hand-woven bags and home accessories with a contemporary direction merging the traditional craft of hand-weaving with references to a diverse range of disciplines like contemporary art, architecture, and film–Nazareno frequently collaborates with Gabriel Lichauco through NazarenoLichauco Design to curate collections, mentor designers, and develop new product designs and concepts for various brands.
Still exclusively crafted in S.C. Vizcarra studio and workshop, Zacarias 1925 has shown in Maison et Objet Paris, Premiere Classe Paris, Pitti Firenze, Super Milan, Salone et Mobile, The Artling at ArtStage Singapore, and Watari Museum’s On Sundays in Tokyo.
A prolific creative, she is also an Emmy-award winning television producer, breast cancer warrior and survivor, and an advocate uplifting the lives of women.
Nazareno shares, “Craftsmanship is very important to me, as it is to Lexus. I love their craftsmanship, evident in the details, such as their stitching. So when Lexus asked me to host this edition of Lexus Drive, I said yes–normally I wouldn’t–as you, my friends know, I am not the best host,” she jokes, while adding: “But you also know you’re gonna have a fun time.”
Nazareno says she has been spending a lot of time in Japan understanding ‘redefined luxury” in terms of woven bags and the pieces they make. “I think we share the same values,” she affirms, pertaining to Lexus.
Per Lexus, “Automotive interior design is a very tactile exercise. Apart from looking amazing, the materials must feel a certain way that aligns with the brand. For Nazareno, the look and feel that she is going for is “redefined luxury through craft and ideas.”
In an Instagram post, Nazareno writes: “At Zacarias 1925, we produce our pieces at the S.C.Vizcarra workshop, founded by my grandmother in 1925. In our work, the hand-crafted, hand-woven pieces speak, they tell a story – from the personality of the colors, the intricacy of the weave, the essence of the craftspeople. When pieces have soul that’s when you feel and experience amazing. I chose to partner with Lexus because they believe and adhere to exquisite craftsmanship and redefined luxury.”
If given a chance to design a vehicle interior, Nazareno would use wicker, chair cane and leather. A shift toward a sustainable future has long been happening with Lexus. The brand is a pioneer in hybrid and electric vehicles. Nazareno says that her industry continues to espouse the beauty of hand-crafted pieces. “It gives a soul and character to an object. That is important. Coupled with good design, well then that’s just beautiful.”
When asked how the partnership between Lexus and Nazareno emerged, Sison elaborates, “At Lexus we always look for personalities who have the same values that we have as a brand. And I believe that in terms of the things that Rita champions, it is about craftsmanship.”
“So it was a very natural collaboration with her, with the work that she does, her passion for it that translates into our cars–inside the vehicle, the interior, the exterior, even the experiences that we create–everything is carefully crafted,” she continues.
Sison speaks of the Japanese concept of omotenashi, also one of Lexus’ values that they practice, wherein you bring guests as if you would bring them to your own home. It’s the anticipation of needs and making them feel at home. And speaking of values, Sison also shares that just like in all of their cars that are built by Lexus’ Takumi craftsmen, so it is and similar to what Rita does. You can see that in the bags and furniture that she creates–an homage to heritage with a design twist.
She offers insight on the similarity with Lexus: “We do have traditional concepts taken to heart but we also bring in that electrified concept which is seen in the hybrid electric cars that we have today, one of which is the one that you’re driving–the IS 300 hybrid electric vehicle.”
I learned that the IS 300 hybrid electric vehicle is one of the more attainable Lexus vehicles in the line up. An advantage of owning a hybrid electric vehicle apart from it being a very sustainable car is it’s very environment friendly so you consume less gas, which brings you to lower your carbon footprint.
There’s actually a good amount of power when you drive a hybrid electric vehicle and the quietness is one of the things that customers look into. Sison conveys that driving a hybrid electric car is incredibly quiet, adding to its premiumness.
So how does the engine work since there’s no need to charge it?
She explains: “Essentially what happens is there are two motor engines that work together, helping the other one out.
When you brake, that’s when the car charges for it to gain more energy for it to move forward.
So even when you’re caught in traffic, you’re not actually consuming gas, but you’re charging the vehicle.”
What is luxury to Lexus? How does the brand define luxury? Sison explains, “Luxury can mean a lot of things to other people; it could be about the convenience, time, experiences that you have. But at Lexus we believe that having personalized experiences, everything that is done personally to a T-that is what luxury is all about.”
One such personalized experience was this Lexus Drive edition.
I looked back at the day spent away from my desk, my spirit gratefully giddy, refreshed, and replenished from the simple joy of reconnecting with friends and nature while we sat down for al fresco lunch, with whispers of Billy Holiday’s serenades in the background.
Amidst the picturesque Preciosa Farms we indulged in the cool crisp breezy Alfonso climate while digging into Chef Magsaysay’s curated epicurean creations.
A quick tour of the farm and we found ourselves exploring lush fields of homegrown herbs like tarragon, oregano, and sage. We even fed their resident sheep who surprised me, looking very much like aggressive vegetarians as they devoured with gusto the fresh leaves we lured them with.
Undeniably, the most treasured moments were my pockets of me time while driving in solitude from the city to the farm and back. With hands on the wheel and attention fully focused on the road ahead, my cellphone finally took a back seat, allowing me to unplug.
The drive soon transformed into a soothing meditative experience. Initially tempted to test the Lexus IS 300’s sound system, I made a conscious decision to keep it off, blessing myself with this rare luxury of a quiet drive, basking in the sweet sanctuary of silence.
Banner photo courtesy of Lexus Philippines.