The Design Center of the Philippines (DCP) has invited Denmark’s world-renowned Jacob Jensen Design (JJD), through the Trade Council of the Royal Danish Embassy in Manila, to join the International Design Conference 2019.
JJD-Greater China CEO Manuel Veiga Aldemira said his company “is one of the oldest and most award-winning design consultancies in the world.”
Aldemira shared that JJD is in “a journey to enable and empower inventors, entrepreneurs and corporations around the world and provide them with tools to become industry leaders, while it creates products and services that shape a world we all want to live in.”
He added, “The company has the will and intention to share our design philosophy and practice with as many communities as possible.”
The CEO said JJD considers the country an important player in the region, and that they would like to be part of this community as a key design contributor to industries: “With the nation’s rich tradition, diversity in culture, crafts and design, the Philippines has all the potential to leverage on design to achieve sustainable growth.”
He said their link with Denmark’s Trade Council would enable them to meet with potential local business partners, “who are positioned to add value to design and creativity, and maybe even take their Filipino brand into global expansion.”
The BusinessMirror asked DCP Executive Director Maria Rita O. Matute about their major role in this endeavor. She said they work with Filipino manufacturers to help them find markets for export.
Matute said DCP has recently collaborated with 62 companies during the National Trade Fair, “whose products we encourage to be more green and sustainable.”
“We created a collection toward more sustainable design using natural products as a unique selling proposition and enabling these companies to book sales.”
She added that when Filipino companies saw their advertisement for “green design,” they were consulted so that their own products could have a sustainable collection.
DCP’s executive director also revealed an initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry, “Go Local,” which companies could adapt and develop for the National Trade Fair.
“From the Go Local platform, they can spread their products to duty-free shops as nontraditional souvenirs from the Philippine markets,” Matute added.
She clarified that the DCP does not dictate on the kind of materials to be used in local products, but rather acts as a catalyst of all of these developments.
Matute further revealed that they helped develop piñapel, an agricultural waste from the harvested pineapple leaves, which could be converted into commercial paper. “Instead of importation, we converted the leaves into packaging cartons, giving farmers added income.”
“It gives us an immense sense of accomplishment,” Matute shared.
For her, the most important aspects of design is the end of a product’s life: “When considering a product—aside from its attractiveness to consumers and the right price—we ask: ‘What do we do at the end of its life?’”
She said this is a part of the ethics of a designer: the aspect of injecting simple changes—whether it is the choice of material, or how the product is put together, or the consideration of other products out in the market, or its partnerships with organizations.
Product life (re)cycle
In other words, Matute’s DCP is already considering how to recycle a product, which compelled this reporter to ask Aldemira if JJD considers the stage of recycling in their products while they are still in the design stages.
(Recycling wastes is a major headache among governments across the world. A recycling plant in Korea, one of the most advanced in Seoul, still finds the disposal of 120 models of television problematic. Each has its own unique way of dismantling so that usable parts, like rare earth and valuable metals, could still be saved for other purposes.)
Aldemira said JJD is also aware of this problem, so that when they make some of their products, “a certain store could be able to take an old version back and encourage them to buy a new version.”
“There needs to be an understanding that a product’s life has no end, because its components still remain. You have to think about what you want to do with it.”
“So we’re not using second hand or used [products] anymore; we are simplifying material types, simplifying the design to enable, while also making sure that, if one has been pulled apart, the materials themselves are safe to be disposed.”
The JJD CEO affirmed that, for a certain type of product that they design, there is already a recycling system in place, while making sure their designs will fit into that process.
“It’s not easy certainly, but it requires certain knowledge and understanding of the design.”
According to Aldemira, it is the responsibility of the designer and the company to explain that their products could be recycled, “and I wonder if, at some point, companies could be held responsible for those products.”
He said some apparel companies are already thinking about proper waste disposal of their products by placing tiny tags into the fabrics, so that they may know where a certain item goes and try to track it. If they are able to, then they can try to retrieve it.
Aldemira hinted at another idea being considered by manufacturing companies, which is to “lease products, rather than own them.”
“If you could find [an electronic] product, give it back to [its manufacturer.] They could probably use the raw materials.”
The JJD executive said some companies are already into this practice, like carpet and car manufacturers. “Certainly. Yes, there are some products that are worthwhile [considering]: They tend to be higher-priced, where you spend quite a bit of money, and then you keep them for a little while.”
The challenge, he explained, is getting rid of new material things properly about six months after they were purchased. This is a red flag, considering low-cost products like single-use plastics and consumables, are plentiful.
That is so, Aldemira said, because disposal of cheap products should be in easily accessible locations for dropping off, “as consumers are lazy. We don’t have to worry about stuff.”