Sonder Evennys Agustin talks about his room’s Japanese-inspired extreme makeover and the importance of bringing art into our lives

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Spending his days and nights indoors due to the health crisis is not the experience 22-year-old Sonder Evennys Agustin thought he was going to have after graduating from civil engineering. As the days went on and he tried to find things to fill up his days, he realized he had been staring at a blank canvas this whole time.

Over a month, within the four walls that had become his world, Sonder transformed his room into a tranquil Japanese-inspired space.

“The main reason [I transformed my room] is gusto kong maging productive ngayong lockdown (The main reason I transformed my room is that I wanted to be productive during the lockdown),” says the Ilocos Norte native in an interview with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Kaya po naisipan ko pong gumawa nga mga furniture and then naisipan ko na din pong irenovate ang room ko (I thought of making furniture and renovating my room).”

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A WAVE OF INSPIRATION Sonder imitates The Great Wave off Kanagawa in the face of his walls

Big in Japan

On YouTube, Sonder shares the process in creating his Japanese style furniture, including a chic kohiteburu, or coffee table, as well as a floating table.

The eye-catching masterpiece of the room, however, is his mural recreating The Great Wave off Kanagawa created by Katsushika Hokusai in the late Edo period of Japan. It truly ties the whole room together and elevates it to a whole other level.

Hokusai’s woodblock print, created almost two centuries ago, is one of the most recognizable and influential art pieces in the world. Original prints are on display top museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the British Museum in London.

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Artist in residence

Of course, any plans to travel to those museum-filled cities to see the original are grounded as of the moment. But Sonder’s beautiful recreation shows that we don’t need to travel to experience and appreciate art in our daily lives.

“As a local artist, important po para sa aking na to bring art into a room,” Sonder adds. “Kasi, isa ito sa mga nagbibigay buhay sa isang lugar. Kumbaga po is sila nagbibigay lasa sa isang pagkain (Because it is a live-giving space. It is like giving flavor to food).”

“And dahil love ko po ang art, dapat lang na ilagay ko po sa kwarto ko po para ipaalala sa akin na ang Diyos ay may binigay sa akin na talent na dapat ko lang pong ipagmalaki (And because I love art, I just have to put it in my room to remind me that God has given me a talent that I should be proud of).”

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THE GREAT ROOM Sonder’s renovated bedroom

Sonder says that his artistic talents and sensibilities come from both sides of the family. As a child, he competed in various drawing and painting competitions. He even placed first in the Department of Education’s (DepEd) National Festival of Talents (NFOT) in 2014 when it was hosted in Olongapo City.

While his extreme makeover room edition took 30 days to put together, Sonder wants to make it clear that it took a while to save up for the big renovation. Even while studying, he accepted commissions for paintings, drawings, and murals. But it was all worth it.

Kung gusto mo talagang maka-achieve ng kahit ano, huwag kang mawalan ng determinasyon na matapos ang goal mo (If there is something you want to achieve, do not lose your determination to finish your goals),” Sonder adds. “Wala pong mahirap sa taong may determinasyon sa buhay. Maging positibo lang sa buhay. Yung mga negatibo dapat naiwaksi (There is nothing difficult for a person with determination in their life. Just stay positive in life and disregard the negatives).” 

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