I come from a blended culture, the Philippines, with a Latin and Asian sensibility. I was fortunate to be mentored by a famous Japanese guru, who designed the iconic Kikkoman bottle, who, not only instilled the discipline of package design, not as a mere science of physical function, but more importantly, to delight in the essence of the work, to enable designs that mirror and express the country's soul. I am in a good place to be in the US, to break boundaries, to specialize designs for the diverse markets, because, culturally, that's who and where I am.
I remember the book "Eat, Pray, Love". The main character in the early chapters had a monicker. She was called "Groceries", as a term of endearment and mild insult. I like that. It is a metaphor for the work that I do, to which I attach a story in every design assignment. I collect groceries, as a field of study, as a bipolar tension between respect and parody, of how the things we buy make us, or how the things we consume, shape us. Groceries aren't a bad thing, if we never allow them to eat us!
In the early eighties, I had the opportunity to study traditional Japanese pottery in the rural prefecture of Kagawa, living and working with a pottery master for almost two years. It was a life changing first hand experience - making pots, containers and vases by hand - using glazes the recipes of which had been handed down generations, and studying the art of tea and flowers as an integral theme in pottery.
Coming back to Manila, that apprenticeship certainly defined my approach to designing products, primarily intended for export manufacture, but always imparting a sense of craftsmanship, tradition, handwork and love of natural materials.
When Olive and I set up our design practice, this became a creative force in the then booming export development market of the Philippines. Having settled in Vegas years ago, I hold a casino day job and work with Olive in graphic and packaging design projects. Since then, I have taken a renewed interest in product, food and portrait photography and floral styling.