The Philippines by Design

The Philippines by Design

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This introduction to Philippine art and design was developed around the course Philippine Design offered by the Fine Arts Department of Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Humanities.

This book breaks down the particulars of designs which is commonly understood as art geared to a purpose, and fine art, which expresses noble and lofty human sentiments and aspirations elevated above the concerns of daily living.

The chapters of the book trace how products or artifacts were made over time and how these products were designed as solutions to a need or problem in society, specifically Philippine society.

Because problems and their solutions take place in a concrete context, this book begins by articulating the matrix against which designing and its designed solutions emerged. Matrix means more than network but goes back to the Latin root of the term “mater,” meaning mother.

Matrix refers to the physical, psychological and social situation, which offers the possibility of design and at the same time limits those possibilities.

The first essay of this book describes the matrix as the horizon of possibility and as the womb of incubation. This matrix is woven from three limiting forces: physical environment, human needs and social structures, expectations and conventions, called traditions.

The remaining chapters of the book trace the four traditions that feed into Philippine design, namely, the ethnic, Hispanic, American and global.

About the Author

Fr. René B. Javellana, SJ, is currently associate professor and art management coordinator of the Fine Arts Department under the School of Humanities at the Ateneo de Manila University. He is also chair of the Board of Trustees of Jesuit Communications, the media organization of the Jesuits in the Philippines, and provincial archivist of the Jesuits in the Philippines. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Museum of the Philippines since 2010 and actively engages in the museum’s work of writing and curating.

His scholarly publication on Philippine colonial art, La Casa de Dios: Filipino-Hispanic Churches in the Philippines, was short-listed as a finalist for the National Book Award in 2011. In 2017, he published Weaving Cultures: The Invention of Colonial Art and Culture in the Philippines, 1565–1850. Fr. Javellana also worked on the revision of the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art where he contributed about 100 entries. He curated “Early Naturalists in the Philippines,” which opened as an inaugural exhibit for the National Museum of Natural History.