Who are we? What do we do? What do we stand for? Who are we becoming?
In 2015, a tiny step was made toward the one obsession that I’ve always had about making shelter structures that truly create real positive impact to end-users and the environment: I decided to start a design office. It was scary compulsion, considering the financial odds of setting up and competing in the design industry. But I also found it necessary in order to have more control of my pledge as an Architect, particularly in a developing country like the Philippines. That year I gathered a small team of local designers in Cebu to give an actual working form toward that decision: creating an office, hiring design talents, getting clients, tweaking processes, and establishing procedures. It was, at that time, an explicit decision to forgo stability in exchange for a vision.
The turn of events have been nothing short of enlightening. Since then, we saw our processes and procedures evolving fast. We realized too that, in the same cadence, we need to keep evolving as individuals too. There was no single solution that applies to all, no two problems were identical, users varied in approach, considerations changed, business models outgrew themselves, and society kept changing. And yet, we also saw some repeating patterns or universal rules. At the heart of every design inquiry was a need to mix empathy for user needs, enthusiastic enquiry, and an unwavering commitment to technical competence. Due care and deliberation must always be made at every stage in every project. The nagging question that haunted us was: what can we do to make the most positive impact to the users’ wellbeing with the minimum resources and environmental impact?
At any rate, FYI Design Studio has always worn the startup hat. We always recognize the need to demonstrate an operating principle of relentless innovation, cross-disciplinary collaboration, true professionalism, and value sensitivity in design. I believe that any good designer walks through a tight weave of many things. Some of those things go beyond the usual training that architects are used to at the early parts of their career. Some of those things require you to cross divides of disciplines and study other trades. Some of those things will push you to question status quo and begin innovating on existing ideas to solve real-world problems. Some of those things require your to break new paths.
Choosing the harder paths and unfamiliar territories can truly change you. It can change a team. It can change the world.