Out of Print

Dan Matutina’s Moment of Zen

by Jonty Cruz
Photos courtesy of Dan Matutina.
Designer and co-founder of Plus63 Design Co. Dan Matutina talks about working his way through 2020, what he wants to see in 2021, and how he views his career today.

At the start of the year, I texted a colleague asking how he was. “Tired,” he replied. I wrote back: Do you feel like everyone exhausted themselves creatively last year to cope with the pandemic—to the point where we’re all looking at 2021 and it feels pointless to do it all over again? We discussed it for quite some time but I still found myself wanting. The question still stuck in my head as I felt compelled to ask it to someone else. What can we do and where can our creativity take us, especially when we continue to be stuck at home? If 2020 acted as some blank page for us to try new things, what is it that awaits us once we turn it? What, if anything, does 2021 offer us that isn’t just a sadder version of 2020?

I decided I wanted to talk to Dan Matutina of Plus63 Design Co. about all of it. I’ve come to think of design as a means to articulate the abstract. Can the designer’s ability to make sense of things work as a kind of philosophy to explain what we’re all going through? That may be a lot to ask of Dan Matutina, but from his work alone one can see a natural sense of structure and balance. Perhaps Dan could provide some insight on 2020 and, more importantly, on things to come.


Dan has been a designer since 2003. His work has been published in Wired, Fast Company, and The Wall Street Journal, just to name a few. He was an art director at Harrison Communications, and then a partner at Idea!s from 2006 to 2011. He co-founded Plus63 Design Co. in 2011, and to this day serves as partner and designer. Dan (and by extension Plus63) is seen as one of the top names in Philippine design. The studio has worked with everyone from the country’s best restaurants and publishing companies to the biggest conglomerates both here and abroad. In 2018, Plus63 joined three other design studios (Inksurge, The Acid House, and KM Interior Design) to form the Hydra Design Group.

While working as a graphic designer, Dan was also a lecturer at U.P.’s famed College of Fine Arts from 2006 to 2011. Perhaps that’s why, when Dan speaks, it’s easy to imagine that I’m part of a design masterclass. There’s an authority to his words that’s neither pompous nor patronising. You feel you’re being taught and not told. And for a topic as overwrought with stress and heartbreak as surviving a pandemic, a calming voice can be that beaming light just beyond the storm.

I talk to Dan over Zoom in early January as he shares his experience working through the difficulties of 2020, the things he wants to see in 2021, and how he wants to reshape Plus63.

The following has been edited for publication.

Dan at his office in Hydra Design Group.

Out of Print:  Do you feel your creativity was exhausted last year?
Dan Matutina: The first few days nung lockdown, grabe ‘yung anxiety ko. I think one of the rare moments ‘yon. Hindi naman sa hindi ako nase-stress, but ever since I was a student, after graduation, even sa stressful situations, hindi naman ako nagkaka-anxiety attacks. In general, even-keeled ako. But ‘yung first two or three days [of lockdown], first time ko na feel ‘yon. May friend ako nung start ng lockdown who asked if I wanted to help frontliners through PHCAN [Public Health Communications Advisory Network]. Tapos nung dini-discuss ‘yung [potential] numbers ng cases, dun ako na-overwhelm. Dun ako napaisip na, “Oh shit, mamamatay tayong lahat!” That time na sa condo lang ako sa Makati and ini-imagine ko ilang buwan ako dito sa kahon na ‘to? So buti nakalipat ako and ngayon may open space and nakakalabas-labas ako. So nakabalik na ako sa medyo luma kong lagay na even with all the stressful situations. Medyo naka-adjust na ‘ko.

I won’t say na hindi naman ako pagod but ang natural reaction ko kasi—apart from ‘yung anxiety attack—during stressful periods or moments is, ano ‘yung puwede kong gawin para sabayan ‘yung situation? Compared to [pre-pandemic], mas productive ako now.

It’s funny you say that that’s what you felt at the start of the lockdown because that’s what I feel now at the start of the year. Parang nung start ng lockdown and the months after, people got to try and create new things while under quarantine. Now I keep thinking: Do people still have that sense now? Or do they want to go back to what they left behind before the pandemic? How are you approaching your 2021?
Coming into this year, one of the things I’m looking forward to is hiring new people. Since umalis na si Rax [Maniqiuz], and hopefully si Jo [Malinis] mag-sarili na rin soon. [Ed's note: Since this interview, Plus63 has hired a new designer.] Naisip ko, at this moment, puwede kong i-reform or reshape ‘yung studio. I guess the reason why this works for us is because we’re so small. Parang ine-embrace ko ‘yung possible changes.

What changes exactly?
Ang dami ko ring naisip. Syempre over the lockdown ang dami kong binasa, and I talked to different designer friends all over the world. And ‘yung one constant nun was: what could we do to make the studio more adaptive to what’s happening? Ngayon wala pang clarity ‘yan but maraming “what ifs.”

Gusto ko kasi talagang gawin since before na maging parang “investor” pero design ‘yung magiging contribution ko. Kasi wala naman kaming pera so ‘yung contribution ko ‘yung design thinking. So one thing I’m looking forward to is a different interpretation of that idea.

‘Yung isa pa, ang dami naming client work na hindi na pala kailangan ng face-to-face meetings. [Laughs] And well, ako, hindi ko rin naman pinilit lahat sa studio maging productive. Sinabi ko nga sa kanila na huwag kayo ma-pressure. Iba-iba talaga tayo mag-deal with stress and anxiety. If hindi kayo as busy as me, okay lang sa’kin. Okay lang ako na marami akong ginagawa. [Laughs]

That’s one of the things I was hoping to talk about. You never seem to run out of work. Like for one thing, you do a lot of talks.
I think the reason why you see me in a lot of talks, [laughs] is because nagye-yes lang ako sa lahat especially sa schools. Super rare ako mag-no. 90% of the time nagye-yes lang talaga ako.

I guess kung sa school, iniisip ko maybe may maitutulong ako and masha-share ‘yung experiences ko with students. During this pandemic, once lang ako nag-no to join a talk kasi wala talaga akong maco-contribute dun sa talk. It was about industrial design and ergonomics. [Laughs]

You’ve been part of talks about the state or future of design. So in your opinion, what’s the future of design?
I think it’s very apparent now na sobrang necessary talaga nung way of thinking of creatives and designers in uncertain times. We always say the advantage of designers and people who think creatively is their ability to adapt. Specifically these last several months ang dami talagang mga designers na nandun to support the frontliners. From facemasks to communications, nakita mo talaga na sobrang necessary ng designers in times of uncertainty. So ‘yung future, to answer your question, medyo optimistic ako in terms of what we can do. ‘Yung hindi ako optimistic is obviously the things we can’t control like governments and policies.

[In some ways] I think that's going to change soon. In the last five years, we’ve seen the government interfacing with the creative industries. So parang we're getting a seat at the table na rin naman.

Dan at a talk he did for Fabrica in 2016.

From an outsider's perspective, there’s something about the way designers think that might be useful for people who aren’t in that industry. Over the last several years, you’ve grown to be seen as one of the leading voices in design, and even as a mentor to younger designers. And I’m really interested to know how you feel about that.
I guess may sense na sobrang approachable ko lang sa younger designers who want to reach out and ask for help. Hindi lang from the ones who worked or interned here sa studio, but ‘yung mga nagse-send lang ng questions or nage-email. I think it’s brought about from my experience as a young designer. Isa kasi ‘yon sa mga hurtful things na na-experience ko kapag nage-email ako sa mga idol kong designer, tapos hindi sila nagre-reply. Hindi naman nila kasalanan ‘yon. I’m sure super busy sila, but inisip ko, if I were in their situation, inisip ko rereplayan ko lahat ng nage-email sa’kin. Hindi ko alam ‘yung percentage ko, but tingin ko hindi bababa ng 90% ‘yung rate ko of replying to emails.

And over the pandemic, [I participated] in Indonesian designer Januar Rianto’s Design Drive-Thrunagbigay kami ng advice sa businesses and sa designers. Ang dami rin at that time na hindi ko kilala asking for portfolio reviews. I guess ‘yon ‘yung pagiging “mentor” ko but hindi siya tipong formal mentorship. Kasi ‘yung actual advice na binibigay ko is never really specifically about the actual work but more of the general thinking or how to deal with certain things related to the industry.

It’s clear how you help those who ask you over email, but how are you with your team in the studio?
‘Yung context of our set-up sa studio, I think malaking factor siya. ‘Yung iniisip ko kasi as someone who owns a small studio, paano magle-level-up ‘yung mga tao in that company? Syempre andyan na ‘yung may-ari and then kayo. So kahit na mas magaling ka sa may-ari, ‘yung may-ari pa rin ‘yung top. [Laughs] May dead-end talaga. So ‘yung idea ko is for them to grow out of it. Ganun sila magle-level-up. ‘Yung “secrets” ng studio, ‘yung pricing namin sa clients, sinasabi ko sa kanila. Halos wala kaming secrets to our designers of how we run our studio. The idea is for them to care about the studio but not be burdened by it. And I encourage them na mag-raket sila. One thing I learned as the head of the studio —even if may nagkamali na designer, na may nakalimutan or naiwan, hindi naman nila kasalanan ‘yon, kasalanan ko ‘yon. Ako ‘yung head ng studio and ako ‘yung nag-approve ng work. ‘Yung idea of  “command responsibility,” gusto ko ma-experience nila ‘yung feeling na ‘yon but on their own terms or in their own work. If rumaraket sila, lahat nung weight of the decisions nasa kanila. ‘Yon ‘yung dalawang parallels of working with us in the studio. In some ways the studio was built for them to eventually start their own thing. Invested ako sa future nila and kung anong puwede nilang gawin.

Dan with the Plus63 team back in 2017: (L-R) Jo Malinis, Bernice de Leon-Yumul, Sheena Hotz, and Raxenne Maniquiz.

There’s a sense na hindi ka nagagalit, o nahihirapan kang magalit. Ganyan ka na ba talaga dati pa—or did it stem from an experience like emailing your idols? Hindi ko alam kung masasagot ko siya but even nung bata pa talaga ako, ganun na ‘yung temperament ko. Obviously hindi naman siya genetic but hindi ko alam kung bakit ganun ang temperament ko. Pero mahaba talaga pasensya ko. Iniisip ko rin na, dahil ba hindi ako natural leader? Looking back at it, nung nasa grade school, high school, and sa university, hindi ako ‘yung mahilig maging leader sa group work. May sarili akong iniisip, and clear sa’kin ano ‘yung gusto kong gawin. And I think ‘yon ‘yung nakatulong sa’kin working with other people—na dahil never din talaga ako naging leader, kung ano ‘yung role na gusto niyong ibigay sa’kin, gagawin ko ‘yon. Maybe ‘yung assumption ko lang—since I’ve been in a lot of positions where I was a follower, the rank-and-file—naiintindihan ko ‘yung pinagdadaanan nila.

I do see that reflect in your work. It’s very calm from the sense of structure and order. I’m curious if that’s what brands look for when they go to you. Or is there a sense—to put it bluntly—that they go to Dan Matutina because he’s Dan Matutina? Without knowing what your style is?
[Laughs] I think maraming client nga na ganun.

Does that bother you?
Hindi ko alam kung lahat ng studio parang kami, pero ako pakialamero talaga ako e. ‘Yon ‘yung wina-warn ko sa lahat ng clients namin: na nakikialam kami sa lahat ng aspect ng work at nagtatanong kami. Obviously kung ayaw nilang sagutin ‘yung mga tanong namin, okay naman. But may times na sasabihin nila kung ano’ng gusto nilang mangyari, tapos parang sasabihin ko, okay dahil  ‘yan ‘yung gusto niyong mangyari, parang ayoko na siyang gawin. [Laughs] Hindi naman ako mahu-hurt kung hindi mo gusto ‘yung ginawa namin pero ‘yung point ko lang, dapat klaro kung ano ‘yung gusto mong sabihin. Hindi puwedeng subjective na hindi mo lang type. In a way, diyan ako strict. Hindi naman ako nakikipag-away pero strict ako whether big or small client ‘yan or conglomerate, same ‘yung response ko na explain mo sa’kin kung bakit ‘yan ‘yung comment mo. In that regard, kung gaano ako ka-loose with how I run the studio, ayaw ko ng subjective comment like “cool” or “hindi ko type.” [Laughs] Ang hirap mag-move forward or improve kung hindi klaro ‘yung comments.

‘Yan ‘yung natutunan ko when I worked in advertising. One thing I really learned is it’s only about the work and ano ‘yung ikakaganda nung work. It’s never about the feelings. Hindi naman personal ‘yung comment sa work. Nakakatulong ‘yung ganung open line of communication. Mas clear and mas transparent.

Nae-excite ako na maraming bata na magagaling na parang gusto ko silang “labanan” sa laro. Gusto kong malaman kung hanggang saan ako makaka-compete sa kanila. ”

I’d like to ask about where you are now in your career. I was talking to a veteran designer and he said that design is really a young person’s game. ‘Di ko naman sinasabi na hindi ka na young, but how do you feel about that statement?
Personally, nae-excite ako. Nae-excite ako na maraming bata na magagaling na parang gusto ko silang “labanan” sa laro. Gusto kong malaman kung hanggang saan ako makaka-compete sa kanila. Hindi ko alam kung sustainable siyang gawin. [Laughs] It may not seem like it pero sobrang competitive ko.

‘Yung creative business, it’s built on you sustaining that creative energy all throughout. No matter what the output of that energy is. ‘Yon ‘yung nagda-drive sa akin. Kasi hindi lang naman sila yung mga gusto kong—for the lack of a better term—sabayan. Kasi even ‘yung mga designer friends ko sa ibang bansa, gusto ko ring sabayan. ‘Yon ‘yung thinking ko all the time, na gusto kong subukan, gusto kong makita hanggang saan ‘yung kaya ko.

Is there a young designer right now who’s really caught your attention?
Actually, marami. Like si Karl Aguro ng Uncurated Studio. ‘Yung ginagawa niya gustong-gusto ko, pero mas gusto kong makita kung anong gagawin niya after ng stage na ‘to. Si CMYKa, she’s based in Cebu. ‘Yung work niya, kumbaga stino-stoke ‘yung fires ko to try something like that. Para lang makita ko kung kaya ko ‘yung ganyang linya na ‘yan. Sila Bad Student. Sobrang gusto ko ‘yung ginagawa nila at gusto ko rin makita ‘yung expression nila more, kasi nagbu-blur ‘yung lines na printer sila and ‘yung pagka-designers.

To flip the question a bit, nung student ka pa lang or when you were just starting your career, sino ‘yung mga iniidolo mo?
Nung estudyante pa ko sa U.P., sina Rex Advincula (Zylonzoo) talaga ‘yung mga badass. ‘Yung pinakasikat na forum for local designers then was PhilWeavers. Mostly mga Filipino web designers ‘yung nandyan. ‘Yan ‘yung forum or org na gusto ko maging member kasi lahat ng mga idol ko, andun silang lahat. Nung bata ako, may isang website na tinitingnan ng lahat ng designers sa buong mundo, ‘yung Halfproject. ‘Yung gumawa nun sina Drew Europeo (Grafikas) at si Rex. ‘Yung isa, naging friend ko pa siya sa U.P., si Niccolo Balce, illustrator siya. Silang tatlo ‘yon. Si Nicc, siya ‘yung nagturo sa’kin nung blogger, and kung paano siyang gamiting CMS. So kahit nung umuwi ako sa Tacloban, nagagawa ko pa rin siya. Ngayon typical na siya with WordPress, pero nung time na ‘yon wala pa, and siya ‘yung nagturo sa’kin.

Marami talagang designers noon like si J Lucas Reyes (SushiHendrix). Wedding photographer na siya ngayon, pero before ‘yung designs niya ‘yung medyo “classy” na graphic design na gusto ko. Isa pa ‘yung PageDown. Si Aram Beheshti at si Randell Centeno, and Jayson Arquiza, sila ‘yung pagedown.net, and ‘yung claim to fame nila, sila ‘yung first PDF-based website. Ang ganda, parang magazine ‘yung ginawa nila.

Inisip ko talaga na gusto ko maging ganyan, katulad nila. Sila Rex at si Drew, grabe ‘yung mga ginagawa nila before. Parang sinasamba talaga ‘yan ng mga designers. I guess napaka-niche siya nung time na ‘yon na kami-kami lang nakaka-appreciate compared to now. ‘Yung timing lang talaga na hindi pa medyo viable noon for a career, kaya ngayon ‘yung nagde-design na lang talaga from that batch is Rex and Team Manila.

I heard legendary rin ang batch mo sa U.P.
Karamihan ng nasa batch ko naging artist or nasa advertising. VisComm yung major ko, mga batchmates ko nun: si Mark Nicdao, Manix Abrera, JP Cuison, Jinggoy Buensuceso, Aileen Lanuza, Marielle Nadal of CraftMNL, and Bernice Yumul na partner ko sa Plus63. Si Mark Nicdao, seatmate and blockmate ko. Friend na friend ko talaga si Mark. Sobrang happy talaga ako na naging sobrang successful niya. May mga lumang drawing pa nga ako ni Mark e. Mahilig siya mag-drawing ng figures. Si Manix ka-batch ko rin. Sobrang good friend ko rin. Si Raffy Lerma rin pala.

[And then] Sa Fine Arts na Major in Painting, sina Marina Cruz, Maria Taniguchi, tsaka si Paulo Vinluan. ‘Di ko na maalala if meron pang iba. Si Maria Taniguchi, magkaklase kami for a few days before silang nilipat sa painting bloc nila. Na-intimidate talaga ako kay Maria kasi magaling talaga siya. Ibang level talaga ‘yung galing niya. Pati ‘yung mga professors galing na galing sa kanya. Hindi ko makalimutan ‘yung isang time, may talent test. Sina Maria and ‘yung ibang kasama niya, si Anna Cabardo and Miguel Lorica from Makiling Philippine High School for the Arts, sila ‘yung nasa harap ko sa test. Tapos lahat kaming iba takot na takot sa test and sila ‘yung magagaling. Tapos kinakabahan ako sa likod, na—shit, uuwi na ‘ko sa Tacloban nito. Hindi ako papasa sa test. So nung nag-start ‘yung test tapos nakita ko ‘yung ginagawa nila, mukhang high school ‘yung gawa ko and ‘yung sa kanila ang gaganda.

Dan back in his college days: (L-R) Niño Mateo, Ken Bautista, Dan, and Reybert Ramos. Second photo: (L-R) Joy Sta Maria, Mark Nicdao, Abby Frias-Teotico, Dan, and the late Professor Cesar Hernando.

Speaking of Tacloban, you did an interview recently where you talked about being in New York to receive the ACD Young Gun award when Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines. You mentioned how this achievement was overshadowed with all the concerns of waiting to find out if your family was alive back home. May I ask how did those events shape you moving forward?
Yung experience na yun has made me become more involved in projects related to disasters or calamities. Prior to Yolanda (Haiyan) I’ve always worked with cause-driven organizations na rin naman, but mas nagkaroon lang talaga ako ng focus to disaster preparedness and response. The studio was involved with Move Philippines and Earth Manual Project with the Japan Foundation. I was also a participant in Door to Asia sa Tohoku nung 2015, eto yung lugar sa Japan na tinamaan ng matinding earthquake and tsunami. I went back in 2017 as the design director. Tapos, me and Dang Sering also did one here, sa Bataan with the support of Japan Foundation, Bellas Artes Project, and Design Center of the Philippines.

‘Yung involvement na ‘to was also apparent nitong pandemic, dami kong ginawa related to covid-19 (and its effects) from communication, to working with groups giving food to frontliners, fundraisers, campaigns, consultations with small businesses etc. We are also doing a project called the Design Assistance Program to help small food businesses cope with the effects of the pandemic. This is a Hydra Design Group, Curiosity, and Photokitchen initiative.

Not to go super off-topic, but before I forget, a friend wanted to ask how would you design heaven?
Ang ganda nung tanong niya ah. I think kung ako ‘yung gagawa ng heaven… kasi ‘yung usual na ipapakita nila sa ‘yo, puro clouds and angels. Ang gusto kong mangyari, lahat ng good memories mo nung nandun ka sa Earth, nandun sila sa ‘yo to experience again. Isa kong naisip sana sa heaven, borderless lahat. I guess walang hierarchy rin dapat. Dapat flat lang. Ang iniisip ko pa, gusto mo ba talaga na puro clouds lang andun? Gusto ko naman sana may specialty coffee shop ‘di ba? [Laughs]

I get the sense na religious ka dati pero baka mas spiritual ka na ngayon?
Well, sobrang religious ng parents ko so obviously sobrang religious din ako pinalaki. Sakristan pa ako nun. Memorize ko pa lahat nun. I think one of the reasons why hindi na ‘ko religious like before, kasi hindi na nagco-connect sa’kin ‘yung bakit ‘yung mga religious na kakilala ko, parang hindi naman sila okay sa mga ibang tao? ‘Yung sa pagiging spiritual, I guess half-true siya. Ako kasi, sobrang importante sa’kin how you treat people when other people aren’t looking.

Dan in the fields of Donnellys Crossing, New Zealand.

“I think one of the reasons why hindi na ‘ko religious like before, kasi hindi na nagco-connect sa’kin ‘yung bakit ‘yung mga religious na kakilala ko, parang hindi naman sila okay sa mga ibang tao?”
To bring it back to my original question: I was looking for answers from different places, and I felt design was a kind of philosophy that can maybe provide some guidance on what to do. It seems you were able to “survive” through work, and in a sense that’s a blessing—that you had the opportunity to find work or projects during the pandemic. But for some, they weren’t able to find the answer maybe because they didn’t have similar opportunities. But what is it about being a designer that you can share as advice or as comfort?
Actually maganda nga ‘yung sinabi mo, kasi obviously may advantage nga ako because people know me and my work. Pero ‘yun nga, what if baguhan ka lang, at hindi mo alam how to navigate ‘yung situation or kung ano’ng puwede mong gawin? ‘Yan ‘yung isang reason why Plus63 did The Design Graduate’s Toolkit. Kasi inisip namin sa mga magga-graduate, ano ‘yung puwede nilang gawin?

To go back to your question, siguro ‘yung time na ‘to, it’s the perfect time to learn new things. Parang naging blank canvas lahat. Naging excuse siya or opportunity to learn new skills. Kasi na-experience ko before na ‘yung thinking ko and ‘yung passion ko sobrang intense. And dumating ‘yung point na lahat nung passion and ‘yung ideas, hindi ko na ma-execute dahil wala ako nung skill. The other thing I would say is read. Obviously, better if marami tayong ginagawa. If this year magkaroon tayo ng maraming time, maganda magbasa. Malaki ‘yung effect ng nagbabasa ka and figuring out how you want to apply the ideas you’ve learned  after. Nakakatulong talaga siya sa ‘yo to deal with things.

What do you want to see in design, or what do you want to see from designers, in 2021?
Ang tingin kong maganda sa design, or isa sa mga puwede niyang magagawa, is to respond to what’s happening. Ang thinking ko whenever may nangyayari, paano ko siya pwedeng ma-solusyunan using design. For me ‘yung design thinking is more of the thought process of dealing with things and not necessarily na may concrete kang magagawa.

If we all survive this pandemic, ano ‘yung nangyari, ano ‘yung nag-work, ano ‘yung hindi nag-work. I guess ‘yung isa na sobrang interested ako—and I don’t know kung bago siya—naisip ko is documenting ano ‘yung mga nangyari.

In terms of what the government did, or something else?
It doesn't have to be the government. Lahat ng mga things na puwede nating matutunan later on. I’m sure ‘yung scientific community here in the Philippines is already doing this but maybe ‘yung creative community can also try and collate information and make it understandable for the general public.

The second thing I’d want to see is related to the CIA rebrand. May isang type foundry—‘yung Grilli Type—‘yung font nila ginamit ng CIA for the rebrand. Wala naman silang alam na ginamit ‘yung font nila. Baka ginamit nung agency who worked with the CIA but it brought about a discussion na maybe ‘yung end-user agreement ng fonts can say na bawal ‘tong gamitin for certain organizations. The discussion became about the ethics of design. Interesting siya for me, kasi ‘yung morality iba-iba naman ‘yon for different designers. So where do you draw the line? Or PR lang ba ‘yan, na you put on your site na bawal ‘tong gamitin ng diktador or apo ng diktador?

So I think ‘yung harder discussions of the ethics of design, ‘yon ‘yung gusto kong makitang pag-usapan this year. Discussion—meaning hindi ‘yung i-cancel ‘yung mga nagkamali, but kung ano ‘yung puwedeng matutunan. Saan ‘yung linya na ida-draw mo for these things? Ako rin, hindi ko alam ‘yung answer that will be applicable for everyone. Klaro sa akin 'yung gusto at hindi ko gustong gawin. As the design industry matures, darating ka rin sa mga mahirap na topics na dapat pag-usapan.

Would you say design is inherently good?
Tingin ko, ‘yung design, hindi siya inherently good. Tingin ko neutral siya. But the designer is not. For me, the core of designing is to create solutions for problems presented to you. It can be used for both good or bad. You can use it for a dictator and you can use it for a human rights lawyer. But I'm hoping designers will use it for good!︎

Jonty Cruz is a writer and creative consultant based in Manila.