IN CONVERSATION WITH VIANCA SOLEIL, INTERIOR DESIGNER & PHOTOGRAPHER

In a conversation for Flowe Journal, we ask interior designer and photographer Vianca Soleil about her slow living journey, the importance of nautre-centered design, and more.
After years of moving between bustling cities around the world, Vianca Soleil found herself desiring a slower, more serene pace of life. And so she returned to her roots in the Philippines — specifically, the idyllic, quaint island of Romblon — where she now spends each day unrushed and surrounded by the ocean.


A multi-faceted creative at heart, Vianca currently works as an interior designer, photographer, and founder of eco-resort, Unna. Despite wearing several hats, the common thread that connects her work is a deep respect for nature and an intentional, mindful approach towards everything she does.


In a conversation for Flowe Journal, we ask Vianca about her slow living journey, her experience of building Unna, the importance of nature-centered design, and more.

HI, VIANCA. COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU DO?


I'm Vianca Soleil Roquero, founder of Unna, interior designer and photographer. It's been almost three years since I moved to Puro Island. I grew up in Manila and studied interior design. I've also done other creative work as a florist and creative director.



YOU'VE LIVED ALL AROUND THE WORLD — FROM BUSY CITIES LIKE MANILA, DUBAI, THE U.S., AND EVEN KENYA, NOW SETTLING IN ROMBLON. HOW HAS YOUR JOURNEY BEEN, TRANSITIONING FROM CITY TO SLOW ISLAND LIFE?


It's been both challenging and fulfilling. To be honest, lots of winging it in the beginning. The excitement of living by the ocean superseded the worries of how to exactly build on a secluded island. But the good thing about slow-build is that there is room for patience and intention. It's been a learning process. i take it by the day and I don't finalize things until it feels right.



WHAT DROVE YOU TO MAKE THIS IDYLLIC, QUIET BEACH TOWN YOUR HOME? HOW DOES IT SET ITSELF APART FROM OTHER PLACES YOU'VE LIVED IN?


I love that it's a small island without roads or establishments. Among other things — the untouched nature, the little huts, the silence, having the kindest neighbors. I find it all to be so endearing. This place in a way feels like the charm of the old Philippines.



HOW DOES YOUR CURRENT LIFESTYLE INFLUENCE YOUR WORK AS A PHOTOGRAPHER AND INTERIOR DESIGNER?

It very much translates into my creative work. This way of life taught me the value in simplicity. It's also a continuous effort to keep honing my style through experimentation.

TELL US ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS IN BUILDING UNNA, YOUR HOME AND NOW AN ECO-RESORT IN THE MAKING?


UNNA celebrates our vernacular architecture. To me, it's about resourcefulness and respect for nature. The process started with the idea of building like an island local. We make use of materials sourced within the province and the application is inspired by everyday elements found on the island. The team comprises of my neighbors and I base most of the designs according to their skills.


WHAT KIND OF TRAVEL EXPERIENCE SHOULD ONE EXPECT WHEN VISITING UNNA?

The way we will operate Unna is still evolving. At the core of it, UNNA is about sharing one’s home. It’s about welcoming like-minded travelers that want to experience the Filipino island way of life. I see this place to be about the simple pleasures and about community.

WALK US THROUGH A DAY IN YOUR LIFE. ARE THERE ANY EVERYDAY RITUALS YOU ENJOY?


I try to always start and end the day with a walk by the shore. It's when I'm able to plan and assess my everyday. I often go for swims between work and have been taking up meditation more seriously. Another everyday ritual that I found myself unconsciously doing for many years now is changing positions of objects around the house. It's like an exercise in aesthetic.


AS SOMEONE WHO LIVES BY THE BEACH, HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN THE PHILOSOPHY OF SLOW LIVING WHEREVER YOU GO?


It's definitely not tied to one's location but to one's sate of mind. There are many ways to go about slow living and our values and beliefs dictate our choices. I ask myself a lot of questions like, does this make sense? What am I doing this for? Is this where I want to put my time and energy? These realizations help me live more purposely. I don't consider myself an expert in slow living. There's definitely more to learn and the beauty of it is in one's unique awareness and discovery.


WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL ALIVE?

The endless beauty of life and its possibilities. The love I feel from my loved ones. Being able to do things I’m passionate about.