In photo: Participants of the mentoring sessions

The Bakong Circular Design Challenge (CDC) wrapped after two days of intensive mentoring sessions organized by the Design Center of the Philippines and co-facilitated by Circulo and Work in Progress.

Ten teams participated in key sessions on design thinking, circular strategies, and effective business pitching to enrich their design solutions. These solutions centered on tapping the potential of a natural material native to the Philippines, bakong.

Design Center Executive Director Rhea Matute noted that bakong and its applications will be core to the innovation agenda that the Design Center and its partners are crafting. “Kudos to the participants who stepped up to the challenge to usher in a more responsive and circular mindset towards a better normal through design,” she enthused.

Matute added that utilizing bakong also entails the transformation of agricultural waste and the default linear and extractive process of production. As such, farmers and locals in communities where the evergreen herb grows in abundance, particularly in Laguna De Cagayan Lake (formerly Bangalao Lake) in Sta. Teresa, Cagayan, will be mobilized in the push toward sustainability and circularity.

“The goal of this project is to provide awareness, to create and hold space for dialogue and exploration of the material,” Delantar noted. “Through the Bakong Circular Design Challenge, partner designers and innovators, and manufacturers, we are aiming to showcase how a material can potentially create a circular economy where the material thrives upholding the values of Bakong,” he added.

Delantar also said that In the long-term, bakong is envisioned to become a shining example of a material that can infinitely be cycled back to the economy.

Regenerative by design, the circular economy is a system in direct contrast with the predominant linear model of production, which ultimately results in waste.

The two-day challenge culminated with the 10 finalists pitching their intended design solutions harnessing the nature of bakong. The concepts spanned textile research and development, healthcare, and acoustics, among others.

“The Circular Design Challenge proved beneficial as it provided opportunities for material exploration and design thinking collaborations,” Leslie Angbue-Te, who was part of the team behind Modubako, shared.  “Our mentors really guided our team to strategize on our design concept, workflow, and even on how to effectively communicate our design intent.”

After a rigorous and design-forward weekend, the Malayana, Modubako, and Brakong teams emerged as winners of the Circular Design Challenge. The presentations were evaluated on how well the material in focus, bakong, will be utilized to spearhead innovation and generate positive impact, both on the economic and ecological fronts.

Matute was joined by Bakong Creative Director/Circularity Expert Carlo Delantar and Panublix’s Noreen Bautista in the panel.

The winners will work closely with experts from the Design Center, Altum, and Circulo, and will also receive technical assistance from a DTI FabLabs for prototyping. The final outputs will then be unveiled at this year’s Sustainability Solutions Expo on 18-20 November. ♦ 

Date of Release: 5 October 2021