Erwan Heussaff and Nico Bolzico’s Fun, New Office Has a Science Lab, a Kitchen Studio + More
Hectare One is where all their projects come to life.
(SPOT.ph) From the street, the entrance to Hectare One is unassuming. If not for the set of Philippine, French, and Argentinian flags fluttering atop the modest two-storey building, passersby wouldn't have the slightest idea that entrepreneurs Erwan Heussaff and Nico Bolzico's office is here. Besides indicating Heussaff and Bolzico’s heritage, the flags offer a clue about how Hectare One is a place where cultures meet and mix—and the fusions go beyond nationality. Inside, disparate worlds come together: Bolzico’s farming and fishing businesses seamlessly coexist with Heussaff’s vlogging projects, creating a space for joint ventures to emerge.
As soon as people walk through the double-doors of Hectare One, they are greeted by a jolt of youthful, creative energy. To get to the second-storey office, visitors must climb a concrete staircase brimming with potted plants and walls in a vibrant agricultural mural by artist Achie Oclos. Halfway up the stairs hangs a custom-carved wooden sign, commissioned by Heussaff, featuring the wise words of Yoda from Star Wars: “Do or do not. There is no ‘try.’”
The theme of natural elements paired with fun details is common throughout the space—a reflection of Heussaff and Bolzico’s unstructured but serious approach to work. While the two entrepreneurs are known for their light-hearted personas (Bolzico’s social media presence in particular is known for showcasing pranks and jokes), they are also seriously hardworking. “We wanted [the design] to fit our personality,” says Heussaff, who sometimes clocks in at 11 a.m. on workdays but also likes spending Sundays at the office “because it’s such a calming space.” And sure enough, with its natural light, pink plastic flamingos hiding in the potted plants, and the ergonomic workstations, Hectare One is that rare setting that manages to be laidback, fun, and conducive for work, all at once.
While a lot of credit is due to Heussaff and Bolzico's work ethic, part of what makes the pair incredibly prolific in both business and even in entertainment is the office design itself. With the expertise of interior designer Mara Manalo of Studio Mara, in collaboration with architect Mervin Afan, Hectare One came to fruition in early 2018. Since then, Heussaff and Bolzico have noticed an immediate spike in their productivity. “If we have an idea,” Heussaff says, “we pounce on it and make it happen. Bolzico adds that before working in that same space, they would come spend all day texting each other about new projects. “At the end of the day, those ideas died,” he says, “but since we’re here, we talk then implement.”
One of the features that helps their workflow is the open floor plan. During the design process, Manalo says that she made sure “the layout would be cohesive [and] breathable in terms of sound and light.” As a result, the openness of the co-working area, paired with the clear glass partitions of the more private offices, make every workstation easy to approach for quick collaborations. It's worth noting that Hectare One also functions as a co-working space. As such, Manalo recognizes the need for flexibility in terms of layout. While the desks were fixed, the designer made it a point to have spillover spaces where people could gather, like the pantry or the casual seating area in the main hall.
Further democratizing the office are subtle design details such as the choice of air-conditioning. Hectare One is mainly equipped with the Samsung 360 Cassette—a circular cooling unit that ensures air is evenly dispersed around the open-floor plan, eliminating hotspots, and thus keeping people comfortable and focused on their work. Manalo observes that it also makes people less picky about their seating arrangements, allowing them to maximize the space. “This was a really good choice for us,” Manalo says, explaining that on top of its functionality, “[the unit] also fits well with the aesthetic of our design.”
Heussaff and Bolzico bring the value of openness into their own projects as well. Bolzico says that since moving into Hectare One, he and Heussaff have been collaborating nonstop. “Even different projects where Erwan is not involved, I call him in [for] his insight,” he says. Likewise, Heussaff has been inviting Bolzico into the kitchen studio, where the foodie’s popular vlogs are created. In fact, with shelves lined with gin, a refrigerator stocked with fresh ingredients (some from Bolzico’s Argentina farm!), and Heussaff’s cooking, it’s no surprise Bolzico declares this as his favorite room in the office.
And yet, objectively, the kitchen isn’t much different from the rest of Hectare One. Like all the other areas, the kitchen is a place of both productivity and camaraderie. Even the fact that Heussaff’s kitchen island was tailor-made to his movements during shooting for his vlogs isn’t a standout detail, since all the furniture in the office was custom-built. What makes this space truly special is that it is where the many threads of Heussaff and Bolzico’s seemingly eccentric interests come together to make a wide-reaching tapestry.
While Bolzico is invested in agriculture (so much so that Hectare One houses a science laboratory to test materials he works with), Heussaff runs a cooking show and various restaurants. Since agriculture produces food, Bolzico and Heussaff are actually on different parts of the same road. Realizing this, they have used Hectare One to connect their projects. “From the soil to the consumers,” Bolzico says, “everything happens here.”
The result? They’re able to support Filipino farmers and fishermen in a sustainable way. Whether it’s by using their entrepreneurial know-how to help food producers earn a better living or by using their social media platforms to bring awareness to their causes, Heussaff and Bolzico are constantly bridging worlds, with Hectare One’s beautiful and functional space as their home base. “It’s not just good business,” Bolzico says. “Agriculture is much more than what people think, there’s so much to be done.” He turns a bit serious and adds, “If people don’t start caring about these things, we won’t have many things to care about in the future.” Bolzico then switches to his funny self, adding, “You can quote me on that...that’s the first that you put [in the article], you know, [in] italics.” Heussaff laughs and nods, adding, “...in bold and italics and punctuation marks.”
Photos by Patrick Martires