Design–the competitive edge

Why design?  With growing access to better technology, the new competitive advantage lies in the ability to carve out  and create new markets through the fusion of business, technology and arts. Design, which functions to bring about such convergence, has emerged as the key differentiation strategy for businesses.

What is design?  Design can be understood as material and conceptual innovation, realized through the integration of arts, culture, business and technology, and experienced as beauty, value and meaning. It is therefore a misconception that design is just about look and feel and image makeover. Design embraces not only aesthetics but also market research, usability, safety, ergonomics, environmental sustainability, new technologies, logistics and consumer experience. In today’s more and more “digital economy,” design as manufactured product has evolved into design as intellectual property and cultural property, embedded in a wide economic value chain, including game development, graphic design, animation, engineering design, architecture, to name a few only.

What is the national significance of design? Governments around the world have recognized the importance of design to national competitiveness, as design drives innovation, contributes to creativity and strengthens the unique ‘branding’ of a country. Countries such as Finland, Ireland, Spain, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Thailand and South Korea have developed national design policies and championed design excellence as a key driver of national competitiveness.

Design in the Philippines—While design has been promoted as part of the Philippines’s industrial and trade landscape, there is a need to inspire a more fundamental change in the promotion and development of a pervasive design culture. It has to be accepted by the government and the private sector that the Philippines could be a leading center for contemporary design in Asean/Asia. The Philippines should attract regional and international design talents to work from the Philippines with Filipinos, nurture innovative design firms, as well as leading providers of design education, and become the launchpad for creative and innovative design into Asean and the rest of the world. As a consequence, a distinctive Philippine design and brand identity should evolve. Like Thailand, the Philippine government has to financially support design sector around the world. It’s good to be at Ambiente,  Gamescom, Maison & Objet, Bijorhca, Furniture China,  and a few other shows regularly, but the field is much larger and the Philippine presence has to be more dominant—through financial government support.


A key player in the design ecosystem is the media, where journalists and various media platforms, including social media, of course, play a central role in promoting design both locally and globally.

Often the question comes up whether the Philippines has a large number of creative professionals. I promise you, the country has. Philippine creative freelancers are counted in “hundred thousands” (if not more than in a million). They are found in the following categories:

Web Development;

Software Development;

Networking and Information Systems;

Design and Multimedia

Data analytics;

Logo design;

Web design and App development;

Graphic design and

Game development;

Book and magazine design;

Art and illustration; and

Comic design.

What needs to happen?

Establishing creative/design clusters (we have some, in my view, Cebu is in the lead)

Encouraging international partnerships and cooperation in design; and

Building support structures for design/creative industries (financing, local hubs with infrastructure, etc).

Design forms part of the Business of Creativity. And that’s a big business which is still not fully recognized in this country.

Comments are welcome—contact me under [email protected]








Turning Points 2018
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