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Pushing the Filipino Design Envelope

Too often, we don't see what's right in front of our eyes. Whether it be unsung heroes, or entities that are diligently trying to make a difference; it's far easier to notice the self-promoting squeaky wheel, the loud and brash, or the constantly in-your-face. 


 A view of the Design Center workroom

Directly behind the Cultural Center, there's an unassuming one-story structure that quietly houses the Design Center of the Philippines. It exists under the DTI umbrella, and there's an ongoing Designer Competency Development Program that's a wonderful synergy of government, higher education, the private sector, the youth, mentoring, and investing in the future. 

Rhea Matute, the Executive Director of the Design Center has much to be proud about with this program. With Tony Gonzales as Program Mentor, and Josef Crisanto as Program Adviser, they selected 15 students from all over the country to participate in this Program of Industrial Design. Over a 16-month period, these lucky kids undergo phases of Incubation, Apprenticeship & Atelier. Working with successful Design companies who manufacture and/or export, these 15 are given a chance to put a practical spin on all the academic study they have undergone. 

An overhead lamp, table, seat, and lamps from the Design Center exhibit

From Edit- Reworked Designs, the collaboration with CSM


Their ongoing exhibit, Edit: Objects Redesigned, was created with the collaboration of established private sector 'partners' - Prizmic & Brill, Maze, Industrial Edition, CSM Philippines, Inc., and Calfurn. And basically, it signals the end of their Incubation phase. In the exhibit, you'll find their reworking and interpretations of Bordeaux Chairs, the Bowen Table, Rochelle Lamps, Campaign Folding Chairs, Haula Lights, and so on. 

The Reworked Bordeaux Chairs

Via the partnership with Prizmic & Brill, Folding Chairs made of Leather & Fabric

Stepping into their workshop was an eye-opener. There's a corner for sculpting, casting & molding, a section for woodworks, for metalworks, for embroidery, for paper, for pottery–so working with different forms & materials are all part of the education that goes on within the program.

Talking to some of the 15 was like a breath of fresh air - remembering what idealism and sheer excitement for the future were like. Their earnest seriousness and readiness to expand their horizons is infectious. Whether from St. Benilde, UP, Bicol University, or Batanes, they all recognize what sort of opportunity is in their grasp. And kudos to the DTI and the Design Center for bringing this about.

Who knows, the future Kenneth Cobonpue or Budji Layug will come from this batch of youngsters.