Since raising well over US$1 billion with his prefabricated structures property-tech company Revolution Precrafted, Filipino real estate tycoon and art connoisseur Robbie Antonio has his sights firmly set on becoming the world’s largest supplier of designer homes. Prestige talks to the youngest person to make it on Forbes 50 Richest in the Philippines List for 2018. Here’s five essential facts you need to know about our October cover man!
1. He has a solid background in real estate.
With his work in his family’s Century Properties, Robbie Antonio cemented the 32-year-old company’s status as the go-to developer for high-profile branded collaborations, such as the Acqua Livingstone dressed by Missoni Home, the Azure Urban Resort Residences by Paris Hilton, and the Trump Tower Manila.
Robbie has a degree in economics from Northwestern University and an MBA from Stanford University. His first real estate project following his graduation, and also his big break, is the 19-storey IM Pei-designed Centurion condominium in Manhattan.
2. His company, Revolution Precrafted, is officially the Philippines’ first unicorn.
If you’re not familiar with tech jargon, unicorn status means a tech company valued at US$1 billion or more and it’s been the goal of founder Robbie Antonio from the time he established Revolution Precrafted in December 2015. It raised Series B funding through the Singaporean VC firm K2 Global last October – the fastest any company in Southeast Asia has managed to do so. In addition, the company subsequently secured US$8.5 billion in consolidated project revenue from 25 countries (and counting); it’s behind homes and structures in North and South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In March, it signed a US$3.2-billion deal to design and construct villas and apartments on The World islands in Dubai. All this earned the 41-year-old the “2018 Philippines Real Estate Personality of the Year” award.
3. Revolution Precrafted is the sum of all his passions: architecture, art, tech and design.
With his background in real estate and his interest and art and tech, Robbie studied similarities among start-ups like Airbnb to crack their code to success. One of his inspirations was the French metalworker, designer and architect Jean Prouvé, who is best known for his work on prefabricated portable structures in the 1930s and 1940s, when the capabilities for mass production took off, as did the demand for affordable housing that could be built quickly and transported easily. Part of the reason for launching Revolution Precrafted was the continual requests he received from people to view his Rem Koolhaas-designed house “Stealth”
“I said, You know what I’ll do something better, I’ll do something for you, and at a very affordable price.”
And so he did, Revolution Precrafted now retails across the globe with its prefabricated modular homes and structures, designed by some 80 titans in the industry – including Zaha Hadid, Ron Arad, Jean Nouvel, Tom Dixon, Marcel Wanders, Sou Fujimoto, Kengo Kuma, the Campana brothers, and more. The company’s regional fabrication plants or local contractors would set up the buildings once the shipment arrives.
4. His house is designed by Rem Koolhaas.
“It’s crazy… it was quite a shocker. It’s all black concrete – and I live in a very conservative society. I chose Rem because I find him one of the most intellectual minds. He’s very academic, and he’s also very practical. Talk about obsession… I sent him 35,000 architectural images and items of research material, stating what I wanted, what I don’t like – I almost co-designed it,” he said.
5. His love for art started during his days as a student in New York City.
Art has been a huge fixture in Robbie Antonio’s life since his New York days, when he lived surrounded by the Met, MoMA, Whitney and Guggenheim; art auctions; and top collectors. And the emotional, imaginative quality of art provides a welcome reprieve from the analytical demands of his work. “I go through my day and my executive committee meetings are all about numbers – revenue, profit – then I head to an extremely different meeting where it’s about the creative process, and that’s what interests me, that balance in life,” he says. “The juxtaposition of the two and getting an amalgam of both – I love to be [in a position where I understand both worlds].”
In addition, his interest in art transcends mere auctions and acquisitions. Another venture keeping Robbie Antonio occupied is the US$1.1-billion Batulao Artscapes, situated on the outskirts of Manila. There he plans to construct four themed art museums designed by Pritzker winners, along with some 8,600 holiday or retirement homes. The concept was inspired by Naoshima in southern Japan, where the entire island is teeming with museums and installations, and buildings designed by Tadao Ando and Kazuhiro Ishii. And even as Revolution Precrafted is taking flight and Batulao Artscapes is under development, Antonio has his mind on possible endeavours outside the realm of real estate – fin-tech, med-tech and technology-based concepts that could be rolled out regionally.
Read the full interview with Robbie Antonio in the October issue of Prestige, available from all leading bookstores in Thailand.