Branding, Creative Direction, Critical Thinking, Furniture Design, Home Furnishings, Industrial Design, Strategy

Design and Pricing Strategy

2017 brought a lot of career clarity for me. Have I shared that I aim to be the Designer that will define what the modern Filipino Design aesthetic look like?

I’ve been spending more time in the Philippines in order to have a more intimate relationship with its culture as I try to solve its issues through Design. From my observation two very significant part of the Filipino Culture that I need to address as I move forward in designing my products are – brand recognition and piracy. I need a good pricing strategy to address these issues.

Brand Names not Branding:

Filipinos care about brand names more than what the brand stands for. This is a country where Marketing is mainly done by celebrities, and people purchase based on which celebrity is endorsing what product, rather than if the product is actually a good product.

Piracy Culture:

I believe this is the child of the above phenomena. Most of the population can not afford to buy authentic products, so piracy culture is big here. Copies are labeled ‘Type A,’ ‘Type B,’ and so on based on how authentic the fake product looks like.

What’s a Designer to do?

I don’t like paid celebrity endorsements. I want my products to be bought because they are good not because I paid a celebrity to endorse them. As much as I would be flattered if my Design was copied, I would also see it as a problem as to why I wasn’t able to address that market in the first place. I think Design should be universal.

My Brand as a Lab.

I’m currently working on a Furniture and Houseware line to be launched by Fall of 2018. These two things have been on my mind when thinking about how to design the products so they are accessible to all Filipinos without cutting corners on quality and design. I’m not lacking on inspiration when it comes to designing something truly Filipino. The streets of Manila is full of color and inspiration. The biggest hurdle that I have found is how to make my Designs affordable to Filipinos.

I don’t think I can truly be the defining Industrial Designer of the modern filipino aesthetic if my market are rich westerners. I need my products to be enjoyed and treasured by all Filipinos. From the farmers in the provinces, street vendors in Manila, to the residents of Forbes Park. It’s a big problem, but it’s a challenge I’d like to meet.

My Case Study for a Pricing Strategy:

I am using the financial aid system of college education in the US as a source of inspiration and my first case study when thinking about my pricing strategy. I’ve personally gone through the system so I know its strengths and weaknesses. Is it something that can and should be done when purchasing furniture and housewares? I hope to have an answer to that 5 years after I’ve launched my furniture line.

So watch out and send me your thoughts if you find this intriguing.

Blog, Critical Thinking, Wayfinding

Strategy and Lessons from Noted Pop-up

Every month at Capitol Cider a one-of-a-kind retail experience happens. It’s the brainchild of my good friend Ashley Allbritton, the fierce female behind Rive Collection.

We transform the Ballast Bar of Capitol Cider into Noted – a pop-up shop featuring Female-led brands with meticulously curated pieces from Rive Collection, and handhewn pieces from my own brand – Stuff by Ana

Having a pop-up shop have several challenges. Marketing being the biggest one. Our location presented an unusual opportunity because we’re at the basement bar of Capitol Cider, so walking traffic would be very difficult to get. In order to catch attention, we turned the cage/ lobby of the building into a teaser of what’s downstairs and used the grates as a canvas for some sort of installation.

The front side of the building also got beautiful flower arrangements with eye-catching Pop-up sign.

100 Pinwheels
Flower and Balloon Arrangement

To create an ambience, we had a live piano player that added an unparalleled touch of sophistication for a calm and enjoyable shopping experience.

Jeremy Dupea Live Piano Music


My Display Strategy:

Stuff by Ana is my minimal but cheeky line of products, so their retail display needs to be cheeky and minimal as well. I used stacks of 8.5×11 sheets of white paper as the platform for each of the product. This is a trick I learned from one of my colleagues before. It’s so easy but very clever. You can literally print graphic assets anywhere and anytime incase you have some accidents.


Jay Collection - Washable Paper Bags Stella Mini Parol/ Christmas Ornaments

We’re just going to keep improving every month, so keep us in mind as you start your holiday shopping!

Noted will be held at Capitol Cider every Second Weekend of the Month. For October, Stuff by Ana will not be there as I am traveling but Rive Collection will have a great collection of things, so make sure to come by!

Architecture, Blog, Places

Museum of Glass – Tacoma, WA

I went to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA for the first time last weekend. It’s on my top 5 favorite museums easily. Experiencing the Museum of Glass starts outside of the museum. Its modern architecture stands out from its neighboring buildings and is easily identifiable as one drives by it.

If you’re taking the public transport to the Museum, you’ll have to walk through the Glass Bridge to get to the entrance. The bridge offers some cool views of the freeway, Tacoma Dome, and the Museums in the area. It’s decorated by giant glass sculptures and smaller glass sculptures suspended in ceilings or displayed in a freestanding wall.

Chihuly - Glass Bridge

The staircase that leads down to the entrance wraps around this structure. Inside is the hot glass shop of the museum. I think it’s the coolest design feature of the space, not just architecturally but also the experience it offers patrons.

The Hot Glass shop, hosts artists regularly. Patrons of the museum can watch the artist work. It also has a Kid’s Design Glass program that yielded my favorite pieces.

Mad Cat with One Ear

The Museum engages the public through its architecture and public space. It empowers glass artists through its galleries, museum shop and hot glass workshop. But most importantly, it has a program that encourages children’s creativity by breathing life into their drawings and turning them into glass sculptures.

If more museums are designed like this, art would be more attainable and easily experienced by the general public. It’s a public space, workshop, gallery, cafe and retail space all at once.

If you must check out their website to plan your visit. Link is right here


The Flaw in “the Democratization of Design”

[Originally Published on LinkedIn – Nov 4, 2014]

Mostly associated with expanding access to design by reducing production and manufacturing costs, the term “democratization of design” negatively impacts the industry. It implies two things: that Design is not yet accessible and that Design needs to be cheaper.

People should know that “no design” does not exist. Design is not the label or brand of a product, experience, or architecture. Design is the essence of a thing. As Douglas Martin famously said, “the alternative to good design is bad design, not no design at all.” Design is already accessed by the 7 billion people in the world daily, regardless of whether it is good or bad. To have the idea that Design exists only in expensive things overlooks the beauty and value of well-designed products that cost very little, such as BIC pens, post-it notes, or scissors. Cost does not dictate the value of an item’s design.

Once we free ourselves from the idea that high price equals good design, it’s easy to realize that the price of a product does not have a direct relationship to the value of its design. Therefore, first order logic dictates that design cannot be democratized at all, because it has an arbitrary relationship with the idea that democratizes it.

Instead of holding onto the idea of democratizing design, our challenge is rather educating the masses on what design is and is not. Once people have a clear understanding on what good or bad design is, the pricing or value of a product or service adjusts and better reflects its true worth based on its usefulness. When this happens, we will see significant changes in the market. We will have a population that values the designer and respects their work. Clients will stop thinking they are designers. Products and services will no longer be priced on false measures. There will be fewer designers that prostitute their work, which will shift the tide of the market for all designers, novice and experienced. By doing this we will find the happy medium where designers are not restricted to design products, experiences or architecture based on how consumers behave and instead are free to design for purpose. We gain back some authorial voice by designing for the essence of a product, experience or architecture, and not for economic interests.