Stanley Ruiz wears many different hats. He is a musician and is knowledgeable about quite a few genres, but atop of them all, he is a designer with a growing international reputation. He has developed new products for a dozen companies in Bali, the US, and the Philippines. In New York, he has worked with SOHO Studios, Real Simple, and Jonathan Adler. He has been invited to present his work and lecture in Europe, and throughout Southeast Asia. In March of 2015, he will be showing his work at the International Furniture Fair Singapore. This past year, he launched his own design studio, centering his efforts in Manila and Brooklyn while exploring regional manufacturing resources. Mr. Ruiz is also involved with cultural agencies in the Philippines, namely Hacienda, a social enterprise providing employment for sugar plantation workers and their families, and CITEM, the Center for International Trade Expositions and Mission.
You have produced work globally. How might you make local, regional, and global comparisons in design, particularly in regards to the production process? Is there an interplay between resources and styles which shape the development of various identities?
To understand the regional influences, you need to consider the availability of resources and the tradition of craftsmanship that comes along with that place. Years before Sustainable Design was a sound bite, many countries were already practicing this form of production by recycling and making use of renewable materials, and by considering a product's life-cycle as it breaks down. The resources and materials are valuable in developing production techniques and skills.
What is a product's lifecycle?
Tropical Modern has been influencing the design world for quite some time now. Mainly, it is a style which is cleaner, modern contemporary, but one that incorporates traditional Asian motifs, tropical motifs, and materials.
So then, what are some measures you take towards innovation? And, how does your perspective and output play in the context of the design world at large?
[hehehe] That, is the question I ask myself. It is a constant challenge. Even the most simple of objects can present a complexity of problems. I am usually asking myself "what is a different way I can make products?" After I ask that question, I consider proportion. Proportion of a product is perhaps the most important, if not the most important consideration. Proportion makes the product.
I try to inject technology into the production technique and mix-in a more industrial design. I think about materials by studying their structural integrity. By understanding material, we are able to develop new products produced with traditional techniques. For example, when boiled to a pulp, Abaca [a type of palm] can be processed like paper. It is quite strong and can be molded into forms or hand woven. There is a whole new range of products which can be produced with this material.
I think you have to ask yourself, what is your domain? In the sea of conversation, what is your dialogue? How can I then identify with an aesthetic, that is regionally distinctive without being folk art? What I get from European design process is a tool or framework for critical thinking and evaluation. As a means of offering an alternative, not a rehash.
How easy is it to have that dialogue, especially since it involves your particular cultural identity which includes living abroad for over a decade?
|Labyrinth Floor Lamps|
The communications via internet create a flux of information and influence, dramatically changing the status quo of human behavior and interaction in many cultures, including how we view the world. But, when you live in a different place you experience nuances of language and behavior first-hand, as a means of internalizing perspective. I am not just a Filipino, I have lived in America and traveled abroad in Europe and other Asian countries. Having this amalgam of experience allows me to say that the problem with design is that, what might work well in one culture might not work well for another. Design might not have a cross-cultural translation in some circumstances.
I think Kenneth Cobonpue (a designer based in Cebu) expresses the notion of trans-cultural design in his work and production techniques. So, in collaborating with him to design lighting solutions, the unspoken expectation is that outcome are products with similar combination of influences.
|Stanley in the Brooklyn Studio|
Design is a concrete way of implementing change in the world. Design can be a silent tool to manipulate the way of life for people. My hope is to have an economic impact and generate incomes, not just from major cities, but by providing opportunities for rural populations. For instance, if a company employees fifty people in a local economy, an effect is that these people won't feel compelled to uproot or displace themselves to a major city. This situation compromises their quality of life. Perhaps it is likely they end up living on the street and having to do things they don't really want to do as a means of survival. It usually has a negative impact with outcomes of crime, pollution, ethnic tensions, and so on. So, it is not much for me to provide opportunity to fifty people, but if 20, 100, or 200 companies are doing what I am trying to do.... then it becomes substantial.
If you like Stanley's Work, visit his site: www.stanleyruiz.com or start following him on FaceBook or Instagram