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Design Center leads conversations on holistic health, equal opportunity


The Design Center of the Philippines celebrated recently World Industrial Design Day 2018 with the one-day event Designing Wellness at Robins Design Center on Meralco Avenue, Pasig City.


The annual World Industrial Design Day (WIDD) is an initiative of the World Design Organization, of which the Design Center. It spotlights a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and underscores the role of design in achieving the objective. For 2018, with the focus on UN SDG Number 3, holistic health and well-being were highlighted.

In partnership with Robins Design Center, Designing Wellness featured talks, workshops and exhibitions at the Schema, Perchand La Europa showrooms.

Leo Lallana of On-Off Group facilitated a Design Thinking workshop that taught participants to “fail forward” and to come up with solutions tailor-fit for pain-points of businesses.


Participants were presented different challenges during the workshop. One challenge asked them to come up with designs that took into account the insights of their chosen partners.  Activities emphasized empathy and the active seeking of innovative solutions to problems at hand.

Reimon Gutierrez talked about his philosophy of art as a tool for self-discovery in his Life by Design workshop. He encouraged participants to “visualize wellness”, helping them with the process by instructing them to describe various objects given to them. The second part of the event, Design Talks, featured talks by homegrown design champions.

Kicking off the series of talks, Melanie Go explained that building biology “addresses the ecological nature of the building – a step forward in harmony and balance with nature” and made the home “our third skin.”


“These homes are meant to protect what’s going on inside and what’s going on outside. We should think about the home as a living organism,” Go said.

A co-founder of Holy Carabao Farms, Go said the well-being of the soil, the animals and the people involved were top priorities in the practice of holistic farming.

Waves for Water Philippines director for operations Jenica Dizon emphasized the importance of immersing one’s self in the source of the problem he/she wanted to solve. She encouraged her audience to help effect change while doing what they were passionate about.

“It’s really hard to advocate for health, for wellness, when people don’t have basic needs,” Dizon noted as she talked about how her passion for aquatic activities evolved into her advocacy to provide clean water for everyone after she saw the plight of indigent communities. She showed the audience the water filter that Waves for Water provided communities to make water clean.

Arooga Health founder Dominique de Leon and Innovable, Inc. chief design officer Christina Guanzon stressed the need for accessibility of design, particularly in relation to their respective advocacies, mental health and a safer world for everyone, able-bodied or not.

“We don’t have convenient access to mental healthcare,” De Leon lamented as he discussed the impetus for Arooga Health, an online application that champions improved mental health policies in the workplace. “Hopefully, together, we could design a future that we’re all excited to see,” he said.

“In designing products, you have to design for any possibility,” Guanzon said. She said, as a hearing-impaired person herself, the difficulties she faced in a world that was mainly accessible to differently abled individuals served as the inspiration for Early Action Response System (EARS), a device that would enable deaf wearers to detect threats in their environment.

“To all the designers here, we encourage you to make design inclusive even on the basic level,” Chief Fireball and co-founder of Kick Fire Kitchen Niña Terol said during the fireside chat she moderated.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of sparking the much-needed conversation in ensuring that the physical, mental, social and psychological dimensions of an individual and the community are top priorities in designing wellness,” Design Center of the Philippines Executive Director Rhea Matute said.

The Design Center also partnered with the Saint Brother Jaime Hilario Institute and the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies of the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde in therecent PWD Entre-ployment Expo 2018.

With a grant from the Embassy of the United States in Manila, the expo promoted equality in employment opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)

Design Center set up an institutional booth at the Henry Sy Hall in De La Salle University that featured its key services of the agency. It also facilitated a workshop, Do the Dough, that taught the 27 participants techniques they could apply to homemade air-dried dough to create various products that they could sell for a profit.

“The Design Center believes in accessibility as embodied by our accessible design services,” Matute explained. “We hope to continue playing an active role in the advancement of employability of Filipinos, regardless of their conditions.”



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