I am taking on Tibor Kalman's challenge to widen the lens of design. Tibor asked designers to relearn what was taught to us in design schools and to look beyond design annuals for inspiration. Tibor felt that only a very small segment of designers' work gets highlighted and praised, while most work--which could be stronger, more important examples--is left out of design schools, shows, publications and, eventually, the design history. I want to take on Tibor's challenge because I would like work from hot, humid, tropical countries, like the Philippines, to become part of the mainstream design community. Pilipino designs should begin to win international design awards. Good design is good design and it should not come only from colder climates.

My first extensive Pilipino aesthetics based project was my computer animated graduate thesis entitled, "Bahay Kubo" . However, it wasn't until 2001 that I decided to go full time in researching Pilipino design aesthetics, as they pertain to graphic design. The project that prompted me to dive deeper into the topic was the calendar design (see image on the left for sample and explanation) I created with 11 other designers in San Francisco. The calendar project pushed me to face and consider many important things: what it means to be a Pilipino American designer; what unique offerings Pilipinos and Pilipino Americans can contribute to the design community; and, most importantly, what are Pilipino/Pilipino American aesthetics? It is this search to find our true voice, based on culture, in design that made me commit to the research.

It was a challenge to start the research on Pilipino design aesthetics; it is such a broad topic. In the beginning, I thought the best way to start learning about these aesthetics was to interact and communicate with other Pilipino designers, in the U.S. and the Philippines. And so I helped form an organization, Pildesign, for Pilipinos in graphic design. Pildesign serves as a venue to share and express experiences as Pilipinos in the design field. Our initial goals are to define Pilipino design aesthetics and uplift the culture through our work. Within the course of a year, Pildesign began to give talks and exhibits. The organization helped my research immensely, and it also enabled me to touch base with designers and programmers in the Philippines--some of whom I regularly collaborate with now.

Since going full time on my research and forming Pildesign, I have created hundreds of layout treatments based on Pilipino design aesthetics. Bataclan.com features highlights of my Pilipino-based work, ranging from designs shown in exhibits to client-related work, as well as showcasing my extensive sketchbook documentation of my design process, from ideas to final treatments. Aside from producing work based on Pilipino aesthetics, I also have given talks about the subject in Manila, Seattle, San Jose and San Francisco. In the midst of the research, I still create daily design exercises, experimenting with the latest gadgets, drawing techniques, photography, type manipulations, etc....

Stefan Sagmeister asked, "Is it possible to touch somebody's heart through design?" For me, the answer is "yes," because from here on out, my work is finally coming from the right sources: the heart, Pililpino culture and a focused mission, widening the lens of design. Enjoy the series of work and please give me your feedback about my research on Pilipino design aesthetics. Maraming salamat, thank you very much.