Philippine Daily Inquirer
Designer entrepreneurs aim to become next Kenneth Cobonpue
WITH the rigid lines of copper vases and soft light of paper lamps, Filipino designer Stanley Ruiz showcased his rational approach to product design as one of “Rising Asian Talents” in the recent Maison&Objet (M&O) Asia held in Singapore.
“By capturing these two [emotions]—cold and warm—I want to show there are two parts to what I do. As a designer, I’m more partial to my approach, rather than a specific style,” Ruiz told the INQUIRER during the third M&O Asia exhibit at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Center in March.
As a partner event of Singapore Design Week, M&O Asia gathered 180 brands for a curated exhibition of design concepts and solutions for the growing real estate and hospitality industries. The Designer of the Year and Rising Asian Talents awards offer visitors an overview of both established and emerging design talents in the Asia-Pacific.
World-renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue was Designer of the Year dur- ing the first edition of M&OAsia.
For the Rising Asian Talents, the M&O Asia Team worked with experienced design curators and selected the winners for the quality of their innovative thinking.
“Our mission is to identify the new generation of designers. Each year, we make a selection for six countries. We try to have designers who are doing something different,” Philippe Brocart, M&O Asia managing director, said in a briefing.
He said designers who work with a wide range of materials and merge local materials and techniques with contemporary style were preferred.
“We also try to select designers who are also entrepreneurs. We give them a platform to start and grow their company,” Brocart said.
Ruiz said such platforms might just be what Filipino designers need.
“It’s good to be out here. It’s a big boost to have international presence. I think we need more of this, more platforms in which to showcase our work,” he said.
After graduating from the University of the Philippines, Ruiz worked with nongovernment organizations that helped cottage industries in the provinces. Whether it be coconut or bamboo as material, he designed prod- ucts for the micro-entrepreneurs and guided them through the regional trade fairs.
Later on, he went to work in Java and Bali, Indonesia, and then New York City. He has designed home accessories and furniture pieces for major retailers in the United States, Europe and Australia.
Ruiz went back to the Philippines in 2013 and started a design consultancy, Estudio Ruiz. The amalgam of influences has earned him the label “transcultural designer.”
“The influences I have assimilated, whether conscious or subconscious, are translated in my design expressions,” Ruiz said.
“I work with different companies so my approach depends on the material at hand. I have to function well as designer in order to translate the material into actual products. It’s rational, straightforward, no-frills kind of design,” he said.
Ruiz is a consultant of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions. Some of the products he designed will also be showcased during Manila FAME on April 21-24.
While funding could be a bit of a problem, the advantage for Filipino designers is access to materials and manufacturing, Ruiz said.
“I’ve talked to other designers here and they don’t have manufacturing to make prototypes of their designs. Our materials are natural, which is also what makes us different,” he said. “I hope there will be more government and private institutions that will support design.”