Marle Women is created to celebrate our philosophy of designing pieces for women of all ages and stages of their lives. We hope each interview inspires you, the same way in which these women do to us.
Marle has always valued a slower, more mindful approach, both through the way we design and personally in our daily lives. Taking your time to consider, connect and be present has never been more important than right now.
Vianca Soleil is an interior designer who inspires us on this mindful journey. Relocating back home to the Philippines, Vianca has created a life for herself on Puro Island, an isolated and untouched paradise where she is building an eco-resort, Unna.
Here, we speak to Vianca about her transition from life in Dubai to the Philippines, her picturesque surroundings, and how a connection to nature has in-turned inspired her journey with Unna.
Please share a little bit about yourself - including your background, where you were raised, noting some of the defining aspects that have contributed to the woman you are today.
For the past two years, I’ve been living in Puro Island where I founded Unna. Before that, I was based mostly in cities, only vacationing at the beach when I can. I grew up in Manila with five siblings and studied interior design. I also enjoy other creative work such as photography and creative direction. Much of what I do now relates to fond memories I have with my family. We’ve always loved a sense of adventure, exploring islands and being close to the sea. My mom passed on to me her love for travel and arts. My dad, the kindest and most hardworking person I know, is the person I look up to the most. Now I live the opposite, based by the sea and vacationing in the city. Unna has been over five years in the making and we’re currently in the construction phase. So far, this project has been so rewarding.
You grew up in Manila and lived in Dubai before moving back home to the Philippines. Can you tell us about the decision to move to Puro Island? What drew you to the island?
I felt the need to make some lifestyle changes after years of burying myself with work while I was in Dubai. So I took some months off to travel and became really drawn to exploring remote provincial towns. There’s something so admirable and inspiring in that simple way of life but often questioned myself if I could actually live that way. The time I spent travelling and my family’s moral support somehow prepared me for it. That’s when I started drawing up Unna and searching for a property. I instantly fell in love with the untouched beauty of Puro. It’s a small island without roads nor establishments and our home is right between the sea and a mangrove forest. The first time I came here, it felt like I stumbled upon something rare and special.
How has island life changed you? What have you learned about yourself since moving?
I learned to use my creative side in other possible ways. Not just by creating let’s say a nice chair or a nice photograph but also ideas that are beneficial to others, especially my neighbours. As we move forward, our small community is going to be part of that growth. The island not only inspires the way I create but has also rearranged my goals and has given a more meaningful purpose for building this place.
Like you, Marle founder Juliet Souter finds design inspiration from her coastal home in New Zealand. You live in the most picturesque surroundings with white sands, ancient palm trees, and wild mangroves. How does the beauty of your environment transfer into your design work?
I designed Unna with the feel of the island and we built it like a local by making use of natural materials sourced within Romblon. Nature always comes first that’s why I wanted to create a humble structure that is minimally disruptive to its surrounding. Our home is comprised of huts such as the kitchen hut, living hut and bedrooms huts. This makes the outside always part of moving around our home.
We are excited to hear more about your eco-resort, Unna. Tell us about what we can expect.
Our plan for Unna keeps on changing due to the pandemic restrictions but we’re really grateful for everyone’s interest and can’t wait until we can welcome you. We’d love for you to experience our Filipino island way of life which is centred in nature and community. Unna will be your home with a bed that’s twenty steps from the shore. Nothing too fancy, just the best of life’s simple pleasures.
"When you’re mindful of your purchases, you end up surrounded with pieces that you really treasure and take good care of. I appreciate things that don’t need replacement, whether a piece of clothing or furniture. Marle, aside from how beautiful the pieces are, also has that quality and longevity factor"
You practice a slow, mindful approach to life. Has this always been something you have lived by, or has it manifested with the change of environment?
I had slowly started making changes while I was still in the city. I’d say it’s my love for the ocean, awareness of our current environmental issues, life experiences and getting older. It’s so important to always take nature into consideration in my choices, whether in design or a simple daily task. Then I moved to the island and was able to start Unna with the same values and have since been discovering and learning how else we can build and operate sustainably.
Marle is inherently guided by the philosophy of low-impact, everyday essentials. Do you connect with these values and is it a philosophy that guides your purchasing decisions - both in fashion and interiors?
I definitely connect with these values. When you’re mindful of your purchases, you end up surrounded with pieces that you really treasure and take good care of. I appreciate things that don’t need replacement, whether a piece of clothing or furniture. Marle, aside from how beautiful the pieces are, also has that quality and longevity factor.
How would you describe your personal style? And how has it changed over the years?
Since moving to the island, I’m always in basic linen pieces. I love an understated look with some element of playfulness. I used to be so into trends, heels and that lifestyle of dressing up to go out. Nowadays, I’m much more laid-back and often barefooted.
Tell us about a day in the life of Vianca Soleil. What are the go-to Marle pieces you reach for?
The day usually starts by sunrise with a walk by the shore, reflecting and planning what to accomplish for the day. Then I either go for a run or swim. After breakfast, it’s mostly working on the property, supervising the construction and developing ideas. I love the relaxed elegance of the Lyla Dress and have worn it during walks around the island and early sunset dinners. It’s become a staple in my wardrobe as well as the Lorca Top.
We are excited to be able to travel again and Puro Island is top of our list. Tell us a bit about what we will experience?
Puro is right beside Tablas which is the main island of Romblon. It’s so small that you can encircle it by foot in less than two hours. Here you’ll get to see what life is like on a secluded island. Endless landscapes of coconut trees, empty pristine beaches, hills with marble stones and the friendliest locals. I hope you get to experience it like we do, unhurriedly and always immersed in nature.
What is your most treasured object and why?
My mom’s mother of pearl clutch from the 80’s. It sparked my love for the ocean.
Favourite fabrics to wear?
Lots of linen as its perfect for tropical weather. In the evenings or when the weather is cooler, I like to wear silks in oversized fit.
Spring/ Summer or Autumn/Winter?
Favourite design accounts you look to for inspiration?
Your non-negotiable daily rituals?
Morning and evening walks by the shore and catching up on my loved ones.