One of the milestones of life that everyone looks forward to is having their own space. It’s not always easy, especially when you’re a freelancer. But an inspiring handful, like photographer Koji Arboleda, make it work. The 25-year-old photographer has been making waves in the fashion industry with his signature clean and sleek look. With his freelance photography work as his main income, and a bit of help from his mom, he was able to create a home for himself and sometimes, some of his friends.
He moved into his one-bedroom unit less than two months ago, and it already feels like he has already fully settled in. The minimalist lines of his furniture selection and little knick knacks and plants he chose for the living room’s decor style hit close to his photography aesthetic. “Only the essentials with a few accents to make it pop,” he says. It took him a month to source his furniture from different locations, but admittedly it’s still a continuous process. His lifestyle is evolving and his home will definitely grow with him.
Despite being a photographer, I didn’t see any of his pictures in his space. Rather, he showcases works from the artists he admires. A painting by artist Tom Bucag sits on his buffet table, and a large mixed media piece by Jel Suarez lives on top of his (very comfortable) living room couch. Perhaps what makes his home distinct from others is it often hosts many other people we all admire. If you’re an active follower of his stellar Instagram feed, you’d most likely see his friends from the creative industry hanging out at his place. From restaurateurs Gab Bustos and Thea de Rivera of The Girl and the Bull and 12/10 to stylist and writer Sam Potenciano to photographer Cenon Norial. It’s basically the new Escolta. (Kidding.)
We chatted with Koji over garlic spaghetti (which he cooked himself) to talk about the freelance life and creating a space that you love.
What made you decide to finally move out?
It’s a mutual understanding between me and my mom that I needed to be responsible. Feeling ko masyado akong nagla-lounge sa bahay. Nung time na yun, kailangan ko maging responsible sa sarili ko. Pinalayas nya ko pero binigyan naman nya ako ng place. (Laughs)
How did having your own place change the way you work or your process?
Natutuwa ako kasi parang dati ang dami kong free time. Pero ngayon, dahil nandito ako, I clean, I wash the dishes. Ang dami kong ginagawa for myself. Super love ko naman yung place ko so I’m always excited to go home or host my friends here or spend time alone. Lahat ng gagawin ko dito is for myself.
As a freelancer, how do you feel about merging your workspace and your homespace?
Gusto ko separate. Gusto ko yung umaalis ako ng bahay para alam kong may trabaho ako. Kaya I’m saving up for my own studio/office but now I’ll edit muna here at home. But as of now, I’m happy.
Speaking of freelancing, you always invite your friends here. How do you like hosting them?
I really enjoy hosting kasi I’m presenting my home to them. Kasi pag ako mag-isa, di ako nagluluto masyado. But when I invite my friends, I cook for them. Di naman ako yung magaling magluto. Since super chill na lang din ako ngayon, gusto ko lang yung mag-lounge lang tayo. Hang out lang kahit wala tayong gawin. Tabi ka lang sakin. (Laughs) Tapos nakakatuwa nalaman ko na recently may neighbor pala ako na crush ko. (Laughs)