Made in the Philippines

Last February 18, we were invited to attend the Made In The Philippines seminar organized by the Interior Design Department of the University of the Philippines – Diliman. They had invited 6 guest speakers, all of who are at the top of their game in the field of interior design and architecture.

The seminar was about the situation of the field of interior design in the Philippines, reliving the Filipino spirit through design and an eye-opener talk regarding the conservation of the Philippine heritage sites, paintings and other heirloom pieces. Its very nice to attend these seminars every once in a while because it opens your mind to other endless possibilities on what you have and can do to empower yourself as a designer. Its not always about what you learn in school and read in books; sometimes, its also good to expose yourself in the field and hear what the other experts have to say on the matter.

For a day, we immersed ourselves on different subjects. We heard what the seniors have to say and learned what we should do to improve ourselves as designers, our work and elevate design as a whole. I really loved the seminar and want to share it here. So, here is the summary of what the speakers has to say.

Potentials of Filipino Design: Where Are We Going?

Speaker: IDr. Jie Pambid

“As Filipino designers, we are so caught up with the global trends that we forget to recognize our own. We are so engrossed in the media that we fail to see what’s right here in front of us.”

Well, it is true that most Filipino designers are so caught up with the global trend. We always seek to apply what we see in foreign designs in one of our own creations. We look up to those who are known globally and try to simulate their ideas and then feel good about it. It’s not really a crime to do that but what we have here is already rich and diverse. Why go out of our way to seek what is already there outside and bring it in? Why not do it the other way around? Why don’t we develop what we have here and introduce it to the world. It’s a good idea and a good start.

Here are styles and trends that we can adapt and showcase by looking and researching at our diverse culture according to Jie Pambid:

  •  Indigenous/Tribal – The Philippines has numerous unique ethnic groups. Each has its own defining identity. If we take the time to learn something about each, we could actually make their ethnicity as basis of our design approach. It is something unique and rarely put on the spotlight so why wait until a foreign group do this for us? Discover what they can offer to us. Make use of what we know about them and put it into good use.
  • Colonial – It is not news to us that we have been colonized during the early times. And during these colonial period, interior design has been developed immensely. Look at the colonial houses erected here and there. It is very rich looking, formal and nostalgic. These ancestral houses may be old but they still look special and magnificent in a way. As designers, why don’t we try to forge something out of it? Make it as basis or as inspiration. Bring back the richness of what we have.
  • Island/Tropical – This is probably the most applied style here in the country. Filipinos are laid back people. We like things to be simple and stress free and we try to reflect the resort style living in our own homes. This style is inspired by the topography, flora and fauna of the country. It is the most popular style widely used in homes, spas, hotels and resorts.
  • Contemporary – It is said that everything in the past affects the present and that every style is derived from earlier periods. If we put the first three trends into a more modern setting, it would create something that is more apt for the taste of our clientele who wants it streamlined, chic and avant-garde.

Always push Filipino design if there is an opportunity.

Filipino Interior Design Milestones in Retrospect

Speaker: IDr. Johnny Hubilla

IDr. Johnny Hubilla shared with us his experiences as a student and a budding designer back in the 1960’s. He is one of the forerunners in the field of interior design here in the Philippines.

As a student, he shared that it is good to be already exposed in the practice of interior designing. If your time permits, don’t be afraid to grab an apprenticeship in local firms. Its a good start and exposure which will help you understand the profession even before you enter it. It is also a good learning ground aside from what you receive in school because early on, you will be able to immerse yourself in the real practice on field.

As a practicing designer, he encourages that we are all never too old to learn. Everyday is a learning experience. Design evolves so we also have to have that passion in continuous learning. And one common mistake new designers commit which he emphasized is that at times we present to the client the designs and drawings before we let them sign the contract. Its a big no-no, we should always have our clients sign the contract before giving out a copy of our drawing. We should learn how to be aggressive. Its not only a mere drawing, its our profession. We are selling our idea and our art.

Creative Design Process

Speaker: Arch. Royal Pineda

“Designers are meant to create a design and solve problems in a new way by breaking the norms to create a new solution.” 

As designers, we have a lot of ideas and concepts running through our heads. Sometimes, it can be very confusing to know which idea is best to use. We think of ways to solve design problems that at times, we forget that the simplest solution is always the best.

Here are what Arch.  Pineda shared when it comes to solving design problems:

  • Inspiration – You have to think and ask yourself what the character of your personality is. It is best to use your personality as basis of  your design. Think of things that inspire you, things that make you tick or things that help you grow more ideas on. You have to know who you are first and then whatever comes out from you becomes you. It becomes your image and identity.
  • Logic – As a designer, you have to know and understand what the problem is and take it as a challenge for your design and creativity. And from there, you formulate your solutions and learn the reasons behind your design. Remember, there is always a rationale behind every good design. You just don’t put it there per se, you put it there because there is a logic, a meaning and a significance.
  • Collaboration – Design is a relationship in itself. You cannot do it alone, you have to collaborate with people, your client, your suppliers, contractors and other professions that may contribute in building your design. They are here to help and contribute ideas to perfect your concept.

Always remember, there is no such thing as a bad idea. You just have to be sensible because your sensibility will affect everything. And, it is always a challenge to do something simple and straightforward.

Conservation and Restoration of Our Heritage (Through Design, Arts and Interiors)

Speakers: Arch. Clarissa Avendano and IDr. Anna Bautista

” As designers, we are the guardians of the past and masters of the future. We must use the present to build the future on the foundations of the past.”

I actually put together the lectures of Arch. Clarissa and IDr. Anna together because their subject is almost the same.

A heritage is the manifestation of a nation’s development and unique identity. It is a community’s pride and legacy that each wishes to be preserved for the future generations. There are two types of heritage: intangible and tangible. A tangible heritage is a skill or craftsmanship passed from a generation to the other. While intangible heritage can either be movable (artworks, pottery, etc.) or immovable (monuments, architecture) objects that are visible to an audience.

It is our duty as Filipinos to be aware of the different heritage sites and works in the country. It is also our duty to protect and conserve it in a way so that it would last forever (if possible).

Innovations in Local Materials and Techniques

Speaker: Mr. Benji Reyes

“Always remember, build it once, build it right because you only have one chance to hit the market right and whatever comes out from you will be your calling card.”

Mr. Benji Reyes is one of the well-known furniture designers in the Philippines. His works are mainly of wood, recycled wood which makes his pieces more unique, appealing and environment friendly. According to him, wood is man’s oldest natural resource and now that people are more conscious of things being environmentally sound or friendly or in other terms, sustainable, we must put value in the use of recycled wood because 1) it preserves the environment, 2) it is more durable than new wood.

Using recycled materials on the other hand, must not limit a designer’s ability to create and imagine his own design. Instead, it should be the foundation of a more profound work of art provided that you take note of the following:

  • Aesthetics – Does it look pleasing to the eyes? Does it stimulate the viewer’s curiosity and imagination? A good design is something that is not only pleasing to the viewer, it must also provoke the viewer’s imagination and way of thinking.
  • Function – Every design has a certain function. You made it for a specific reason. It may be for display or for sitting or whatever but a piece will always be made for something.
  • Structural Soundness – You don’t design just because it looks good or it will be of use to the client. You have to think that a piece is designed to be handed to future generations. It is always best to think of ways to make your design last long. You have to learn and be knowledgeable of the materials that you will use. Know even the alternatives.

About Elaine

interior designer | occasional bookworm | closet otaku | music lover | frustrated craftsman | lazy artist | part time bum
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