Frenjick’s Path from Business to Design

Over two decades, Design HQ has built a specialized portfolio of projects with clients who lead their industries in hospitality and property development.  As a design principal co leading a talented design team, Frenjick Quesada shares his knowledge and valuable insights to aspiring and young interior designers. His interesting path in discovering his passion for interiors led him to explore both worlds of business and design. Let’s get to know one of the design principals of Design HQ in his own words.

What made you decide to pursue Business Administration and Accountancy during college?

“At an early age, I was already exposed on how to run a business. As majority of the Quesadas are businessmen and entrepreneurs, I was influenced especially by my father. I grew up reading a lot of business books and my father brought me to several business meetings to train me well. As I reached college, I took up BS Business Administration and Accountancy in the University of the Philippines, which further honed my talent.”

For Frenjick, this was a natural progression. When he took the licensure examination for Certified Public Accountants, he ranked second place. Afterwards, he joined top business firms, such as Sycip Gorres & Velayo/Arthur Andersen Philippines, and Procter & Gamble Philippines. The experiences opened his eyes to the art and science of business and Frenjick thoroughly enjoyed and thrived in his business career.

What is the earliest memory of you doing something or engaging yourself in anything design-related?

“In one of our marketing courses during college, we were tasked to design a brochure, and just because of the adrenaline (of designing) something so simple, I got so excited about it. I was so eager to design our group’s brochure that I was not able to sleep until the next day! I consider this event as a foray that led me to design. A lot of my friends were also in the creative field—some in fashion and in TV production to name a few. My friends often referred to me as “the suit” and not “the creative” because of my business background.”

I guess you make all your design mistakes when you are young.

What led you to interior design and what are the events that served as an eye opener?

One of Frenjick’s eye openers to interior design was when he lived in an apartment in Makati with his three friends. They decided to rent an apartment, with each of their rooms reflecting their personal taste.

“At that time, we were all very young and in our first or second jobs. So we decided to rent an apartment and a part of that was to fix it up. I had a complementary (colored) room with the colors orange and blue applied in the different areas. A friend of mine thought that the color combination was horrible. However, I think that it was a bold choice and it was something I enjoyed.” He shared, “I guess you make all your design mistakes when you are young.

At a certain point, Frenjick thought of pursuing something that balanced technical and creative sides. Thus, he chose Interior Design as his second degree. A lot of people were quite sceptical about his decision given that he was doing so well in the field of business.

How was your experience pursuing Interior Design as your second degree?

“I studied Bachelor of Science in Interior Design at PSID. I approached my design course from a different point of view with the help of my experiences. I enjoyed both the technical and the creative subjects. Studying again was able to help me see the creativity of interior design within a very systematic process.”

What did you feel when you also became a top-notcher in 2003’s Interior Design Board Exam?

“I was very happy, my family and friends were very happy and everyone surrounding me was proud. This particular event was a signal for me that I chose the right career.”

A person with a passion will always give his best in everything he does.  When coupled with solid work ethic, it is a recipe for success. When Frenjick took the Interior Design Licensure Exam, he ranked 7th place.

Frenjick further gained experience with an apprenticeship in Interior Lighting under Shoko Matsumoto who specialized in international theatre lights design. He enjoys sharing his experiences through speaking engagements and talks/seminars that he was invited to.  Some of these events include being a judge at the 2015 Philippine Katha Awards 2015, and a key speaker at events at the Ayala Museum, University of the Philippines, Philippine Institute of Interior Designers.

As years of experience passed by, how did you develop your taste in interior design? What is your design sensibility?

“Just like in fashion, my design style developed and evolved over the years. I love modern with a touch of classic. A magazine article once described me as an “eclecticist”, I adore variety of styles where I can pull off different styles together.”

Who is your personal design hero?

“My personal design hero that inspired me is Philip Stark. In my design school I already bought Philip Stark’s coffee table book, which made me enamoured by the witty, modern, and whimsical style approach of the design and interiors. Being able to work with YOO Design Studios, Philip Stark’s design firm in UK, was a dream come true as I had the opportunity to work with different people, with a very relaxed location as a bonus.”

One of Design HQ’s projects, Aqua Boracay, is one of his favorites as he was able to collaborate with YOO Design Studios. In this particular project, Frenjick met and saw a lot of different local and international designers that served as an inspiration.

How did you and Chako start Design HQ?

“Chako and I were seatmates in PSID and we instantly clicked right away because of our similar backgrounds. Our designs complement each other because Chako’s international exposure and my eclectic approach worked very well.”

Frenjick started Design HQ with his design partner, Chako Hirayama. They started to work together on school projects and then progressed to real projects as they graduated.

“When I started Design HQ with Chako, we were able to explore and design by expressing ourselves and collaborating with different clients. When more projects came in, we decided to start hiring young designers who we trained by working with them on different types of projects. We taught young designers the importance of collaboration and work ethic in order for them to maximize their potential.”

Frenjick strives to keenly listen to all ideas. He recognizes that the strongest may come from anyone inside the room. Bringing out full potential of young designers on the team is very important.  To do this, everyone’s design ego needs to be set aside especially during collaboration to enable the firm to grow further.

Aside from being a Design Principal, you also taught in UP and PSID. How was that experience for you? What were the most enjoyable experiences in teaching budding designers?

“I enjoy teaching young designers how to manage projects collaboratively within the team. Teaching in different schools and being a speaker helped me refined my role as a mentor, coach, and a leader.”

Having a background in both business and design, I ensure that the organization knows how to collaborate and meet client’s expectation through listening well and aligning their brand’s vision.

At first glance, one would think that design and business/accounting are two different worlds. How did you manage to merge them together and find a common ground?

“Having a background in both business and design, I ensure that the organization knows how to collaborate and meet client’s expectation through listening well and aligning their brand’s vision.  Several prime developers and hotel operators like Discovery Leisure Group, Alveo Land Corporation, and Robinsons Land Corporation are some of the firm’s biggest clients because of this.”

Design HQ also received awards from Asia Pacific Property Award and The Philippine Property Awards, and a nomination in Haligi ng Dangal Interior Design by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

What makes Design HQ unique in terms of design and leadership given that you have a background in business? How does this help the firm?

“Design HQ consistently strives to be a very professional Interior Design Firm. [We focus on] teaching the team to listen very well to the requirements of each client in order to create spaces that work with each client’s brand. Understanding the business, branding, and the market is very vital to come up with a very strategic look for each project.”

Design HQ’s diversity of projects inspires the design team as it pushes the designers to develop a range of looks that are robust and relevant to the design scene.

Understanding the business, branding, and the market is very vital to come up with a very strategic look for each project.

What is your vision for the industry of interior design or Design HQ?

“Chako and I envision a professional firm wherein young designers can actually become leaders through learning and collaboration. Eventually when I retire, I see the young talented designers … taking over the ship and modifying it as their own with the foundation that perhaps we, as the first generation of leaders, came to lay down.”

Design HQ is not only a team of interior designers but also a team of leaders with the unified vision of bringing it to greater heights.

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