Insights 2017: Clara Balaguer and Kristian Henson, Office of Culture & Design/Hardworking Goodlooking
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Insights 2017: Clara Balaguer and Kristian Henson, Office of Culture & Design/Hardworking Goodlooking

How can the act of publishing be democratized in developing countries? How can local vernaculars be celebrated in the face of globalized aesthetics? What is the cultural significance of EXTREME DROP SHADOWS? The Office of Culture and Design is a studio based in Manila, led by artist Clara Balaguer. Running in parallel to the OCD, Hardworking Goodlooking is a publishing and design practice Clara leads with designer Kristian Henson. Balaguer describes the OCD as “a social practice platform for artists, designers, writers & assorted projects in the developing world.” With their wide network of collaborators, Balaguer and Henson embrace contemporary art and design as necessary tools for progress with the hopes of affecting real change. This occurs by way of social innovation experiments, workshops, conferences, events, and feasts. Projects include product development initiatives designed to enhance the livelihoods of Filipino craftsmen as well as microgrants that they receive and redistribute.

Frequently produced in cottage industry presses in the streets of Manila and utilizing the most DIY production values, Hardworking Goodlooking’s books embody the uncertain and insecure task that authors face, when trying to self publish critical content in the developing world. They also lead book-making workshops in which they teach people how to edit, design, and print their own books in a week or less, using inexpensive and readily available tools.

In their lecture, Balaguer and Henson will present case studies from their practice thus far, and discuss the fraught and fractured history of Filipino graphic design, which Balaguer recently wrote about in her essay “Tropico Vernacular” for Triple Canopy magazine.

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