The Business of Design
Mark Wilson sees new light in the field of interior design
“I probably spend too much time on Instagram,” Mark Wilson confesses when asked what he does in between breaks from his work in interior and lighting design. Wilson is the other half of WE Design, a firm he established with architect Nikki Escalona. Having returned to the Philippines from Parsons School of Design in New York, Wilson has handled interior and lighting commissions with two of the most recognized Filipino clothing and handicrafts store: Kultura at SM Makati and Tesoros. He continues his pursuit and shares with RED the latest in the landscape of local design.
What do you consider your greatest influence?
I value my multiracial heritage. The Filipino in me loves our hardwoods:
balayong and kamagong, and our rich heritage of woodworking, fine furniture, capiz, and banigs. The American part of me loves freedom, diversity, and the importance of developing a concept. My design inspiration is usually an amalgam of our clients’ [aspirations]: the conditions of the site, and my own understanding of the history of art, architecture, and decoration.
In terms of process and technique, how would you compare the design landscape abroad and in the Philippines?
Our process is the same: it begins with developing a concept with the client, using renderings and 3-D digital models so the client can visualize our proposals. Then, we go into specifying all the elements that make up the built environment: from light fixtures to velvet on the sofa. We provide quotations from contractors and end in fine tuning all the elements, including electronics that control dimming and motorized shades.
What is it in today’s industry that excites you the most?
The rapidly changing materials, our growing understanding of carbon and energy, and how it affects our planet. I think a real driver for design now in the built environment is the earth, because it turns out that the biggest pollutant is the building industry. How do we manage our processes so that we’re using materials as close to the site as possible? Also, another thing that’s exciting is the way computer edit design is evolving.
Any advice for young designers who would want to start a career in the Philippines?
Young designers should really learn how to be meditative. Because many people today are tied to their Instagram and Pinterest feeds, it becomes really easy to just copy, but in fact, going within and coming up with something creative and conceptual is more rewarding. That’s what young Filipino designers have to understand: the value of the concept, because it is the starting point for any design. The concept needs to be very rich. It comes out of the needs of the client, the conditions of the site, and how the creativity of the designer marries both to create a multilayered design solution.
“BECAUSE MANY PEOPLE TODAY ARE TIED TO THEIR INSTAGRAM AND PINTEREST FEEDS, IT BECOMES REALLY EASY TO JUST COPY, BUT IN FACT, GOING WITHIN AND COMING UP WITH SOMETHING CREATIVE AND CONCEPTUAL IS MORE REWARDING.”
Clockwise from top: The redesign of Tesoros in Makati; customized Claudio table; Sambokojin Project: lighting design by Mark Wilson and Nikki Escalona, interior design by Empire Designs.