Cover Photo Taken From Guild's Official Facebook Page
Cover Photo Taken From Guild's Official Facebook Page.

Trailblazing purposive design in “SIKLAB: Blazing Horizons”

The passion for purpose-driven design emerged this Interior Design Week 2021 through Guild of Rising Interior Designers’ week-long “SIKLAB: Blazing Horizons.”

By Ralph Regis, and Beatrice Quirante | Friday, 4 June 2021

From May 24 to 28, Benilde’s Interior Design (InD) program and their official student organization Guild of Rising Interior Designers (GRID) launched “SIKLAB: Blazing Horizons” with a series of webinars and interviews through Facebook Live and Zoom.


Coming off the heels of last year’s fully online event “Beyond the Flare,” “SIKLAB: Blazing Horizons” shed light on Benildean talents and welcomed the public to the passion and creativity of the interior design industry.


Designed to reach greater heights

In her welcoming remarks, School of Design and Arts (SDA) Dean Ar. Dottie Asela Domingo, expressed her hopes that Benildean artists would be pioneers of innovation in society. 


“Despite the limitations and difficulties that we are all currently facing in this global pandemic...I pray that we all be the light to each other. Let us be the colorful sparks that we want to see in the world,” she said.


Sharing the journey of the InD program in Benilde, Benildean senior InD faculty member Dr. Vincent Louie Tan shared that it started with six faculty members and around 80 students. 


Established in 1998, in consortium with the Philippine School of Interior Design (PSID), students had to take their General Education subjects for the first two years in Benilde and the InD subjects for the succeeding years in PSID. However, when this fruitful consortium was about to end in 2012, Dr. Tan was asked by the former dean to start writing the new curriculum for the new program. The program formally started accepting all-Benilde students in 2013, with Dr. Tan as its department chairperson. 


Proving the continuous success of the InD program over the years, Dr. Tan was followed by a testimonial interview with Benildean Interior Design Category finalists Ynes Manguerra and Jazel Ong, “Gold Winner” Margaret Therese Hagad, and “Silver Winner” Lauren Khoo in Nippon Paint's Asia Young Designer Awards (AYDA) 2020. Amidst the global pandemic and full-online competition, the Benildean designers were challenged to focus on creating spaces that provide security, accessibility and opportunity for its users with the theme of “Forward: Human-centered Design.” 


Annually, AYDA serves as a platform for young Architectural and Interior Design students to hone their skills through cross-learning opportunities, whilst connecting with key industry players and fellow peers in the region.


Meanwhile, the Benildean entries for the annual inter-school interior design competition “Estilo De Vida” were showcased in a milestone video. With the theme of “Home Office Makeover incorporating Modern Design and Innovative Technology,” Benildeans were tasked to redesign any space in their homes into a modern office or study nook. Among the featured entries include the winning entry, “Memory in Space” by Hagad; “The Oasis” by Manguerra; “Kayod Kalabaw” by Lorenz Mico Masangcay; “Eclectic at Work” by Aevan de Jesus; and “Metamorphosis” by Sofia Barrion.


Near the end of the first day, the program’s Chairperson IDr. Katherine Anne Correa shared her greetings in another virtual exhibition, “We have gotten this far and indeed started the trend of virtual exhibitions. We are truly trailblazers.” 


Designing with a purpose

IDr. Ivy Almario, co-founder of the interior design studio Atelier Almario, shared her expertise unlocking tips in the talk “Interior Design Practice in the Philippines: The Secret to Great Design” on May 25. For her, interior designers were problem-solvers of the “mystery” on every site as they looked for the best solutions for a certain space.


According to her, one of the questions to consider in space planning was “How do you make a space more impactful?” Apart from designing using one’s expertise, she emphasized the importance of considering a client’s requests and needs. “If you think of your client, you have to think of what they love.” 


“Use your creative skill set to accommodate [clients] to their new environment,” she added. 


As her advice, she said an interior designer must “be a very good team leader,” as she believes that it takes a community for a project to be finished. More so, among her advice were to treat people with respect, “always look your best,” and meet the deadline. 


“[Graphics] always has a purpose,” InD professor Mr. Marlon Barnuevo shared in his talk titled “Environmental Graphic Design (EGD) + Wayfinding” last May 25. He discussed how it helps in establishing a wayfinding system, building brand identity, and shaping experiences. Honorific, operational, directional, and interpretative signs are among the samples that EGD is reflected on. 


Engulfing in the flames of passion for art

As purpose sparks the willpower and forges ideas into life, artists and professionals shared various tips for both aspiring and working interior designers.


Philippine Pastel Artists (PPA) co-founder and member Mr. Julius Legaspi showcased his love for the pastel medium and talked about the basics of rendering with soft pastels. In 2015, Legapsi, together with his contemporaries, started PPA “to promote the medium as one of the major mediums in painting.”


Gusto naming i-prove by using pastel alone can produce vibrant-colored masterpieces,” he added.


Throughout the session, Legaspi gave a sketch demo of a harbor portrait using a blue pastel color scheme. With a step-by-step process of his portrait, he recommended where to get the best supplies for aspiring pastel artists. Among the brands he recommends are Unison Colour Pastels and Rembrandt Soft Pastels, which are available online at The Oil Paint Store and Art Nebula PH


On the other hand, InD alumna IDr. Jerlyn Antinor shared some of her insights as an intermediate designer for the Japanese-based Bond Design Studio, from meeting with the clients, conceptualizing, design and development, and to the construction itself.


As a beginner, she started out as a junior designer for the company. “If you happen to be a junior designer, don’t limit yourself to thinking that you’re only limited to doing visual outputs or creating presentation documents. I think it’s the perfect time for you to learn the ins and outs of actually designing.” 


Additionally, Antinor also shared how her time in Benilde was worthwhile in her professional work. “You don’t get to see it once you’re still there, but when you’re out there, that’s when it hits you [...] Benilde offers a lot of computer softwares like 3ds Max, SketchUp, CAD (computer-aided design).”


With a forte on designing residential spaces, InD alumna IDr. Sharlene Lanzarrote worked as an junior designer for CRL Interior Designs before eventually venturing into freelance and starting up Sharlene Lanzarrote Interior Design Services. She shared that residential renovation has become popular during these times. “Ever since the lockdown started, there has been a spike in demand for home improvements.”


“Always remember that we have to make sure that what is important to the client can never be an afterthought.” According to her, the client’s vision is pivotal in the overall renovation process. The designer should know the history of the project and get a brief overview of the space and client. Asking questions such as “What is the design requirement?” “Who will use the space?” and “When is the target date of the completion?” is a must.


Lanzarrote also shared that it is useful to go back to basics. She recommends Max Fajardo’s “Planning and Designers Handbook” as a must-read reference for designers. 


Lastly, she shared that reaching out to mentors and professors will be a helpful tool in one’s jumping point to the professional world. 


A space for reflection

The design becomes a mirror of the designer itself, as highlighted in the session of AYDA council member, former Benildean School of Design and Arts (SDA) professor, and founder of Michael Pizarro Interior Design IDr. Michael Pizarro. He emphasized how design is a reflection of the designer’s self-awareness “The single most important ingredient in design is not what we see around us [...]  [It] is ourselves; thus, the interiority of design was born.” 


In his session on “Dialogue with your Future: A Reflection on the Practice of Interior Design,” IDr. Pizarro explained that “the interiority is where creativity dwells.” He explained how the varying dimensions of our body is reflected in our designsspiritual body in the “power of light” in design, mental body in the structure, physical body in the materials, and emotional body in the interiors. 


Meanwhile, Benildean InD alumna Ms. Mary Montenegro discussed research-based designs in the Theory and Research in Interior Design” session. One of her samples was her design on Filipino residential spaces, based on her findings on the Filipino’s use of their house spaces, income-level, and most preferred property type among others.


More from the creative Benildeans, the graduating batch of InD students who pursued the first online INDEXHI capstone exhibit titled, “TANAW: Breaking Barriers for Blind and Visually Impaired Students through Multisensory and Experiential Design'' expressed how they integrated “human-centric solutions'' to enhance quality education. As ID 115 InD graduate and Project Head Michelle Raven Landicho stated, “Education should be inclusive.” 


Logistics Head for Construction, Alejandro Bonoan, said that “You always have to consider the needs of your users first, and that’s how you construct… Base from there.” 


Although designing the e-learning resource center for the visually imparied students in the Philippine National School for the Blind was challenging, they expressed their gratitude to their generous mentors for guiding them.


Into the professional world

On SIKLAB’s fifth and final day, audiences caught a glimpse of stepping into the world of professional practice. Co-founders of the Hong Kong-based interdisciplinary design studio Design Eight Five Two (DEFT) Mr. Peter Lampard and Mr. Norman Ung discussed pointers on “what we wished we learned in school.”


Lampard shared that it’s very important to demonstrate originality in thought first, and execution comes second. While early on even as an intern, begin to develop one’s trajectory and formulate a plan and a path. Consider the market, your evolving interests, and goals to form one’s identity as an interior designer. 


“Don’t be confined with what the school syllabus is offering [...] Some syllabus works for some individuals, but not the other,” as shared by Ung on how the syllabus is catered to a large-scale of students and not specifically to yours. 


Moreover, when shifting from academia to the professional realm, one must be open to new experiences such as business models, partners, and projects; while speaking to people who you trust.


Meanwhile, Weavemanila, Inc. President Ms. Ann Charleen “Cher” Hernandez shared her insights on material development in interior design as a field of study and a practical undertaking. As a brand, Weavemanila would do the practical application in partnership with their clients. When considering the materials, Hernandez shared that one must keep in mind the texture, color and size, symmetry and asymmetry, components, acoustic, and price and durability. 


According to Hernandez, Weavemanila’s competitive advantage is they specialize in manufacturing large-scale hand woven abaca carpets, something that isn't done by other competitors. “Do something na hindi kayang gawin ng ibang tao sa market,” she added.


To cap off the day filled with engaging talks, PositiviTrix Life Coach Ms. Trixie Esguerra shared her tips and tricks to live a happier life. One should speak of beauty and appreciate oneself, especially during these difficult times. One must not also forget to inhale positivity, sit down, and remember to breathe. While in the process, exhaling all the negativity, anxiety, and stress.


To formally close “SIKLAB: Blazing Horizons,” Associate Dean of SDA Environmental Studies Cluster Ms. Christine Benet gave her closing remarks. “Truly the interior design program is one with the industry in preparing our future creative talents as professionals. [During] these challenging times, the best way to adapt to the new normal is through collaboration.”