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Arts and Culture

Designers are storytellers, too: Functional Design as told by Nikki Roxas

Katya Lichauco - Philstar.com
Designers are storytellers, too: Functional Design as told by Nikki Roxas
New York City-based designer Nikki Roxas (left) and some of her works, including "Tales From the Archipelago," a print publication filled with narratives of young Filipinos living in the US (right, bottom) and a postage stamp with an illustration of a Philippine mango (top right).

MANILA, Philippines — Meaningful design is as much about the story you tell as it is about the visuals you create.

This is the ethos 24-year-old, New York City-based designer Nikki Roxas seeks to share in her work.

“Design isn’t just used to serve aesthetic purposes, but is something that is able to communicate a message to someone and leave an impact,” said Nikki. “It’s our job to make designs as clear and impactful as possible."

Nikki has always dabbled in design here and there, experimenting with Adobe Suite, as well as observing and asking for guidance from her mentors. Nonetheless, she did not initially think this was a viable career path. In fact, she believed she wanted to pursue a job in advertising.

It was only until she applied for a marketing internship at a renowned food group in the Philippines, that the team spotted her eye for design and offered her a graphic design position instead.

“I haven’t stopped designing since,” she said.

Fast forward to a couple of years, Nikki finds herself amid a sea of opportunity as a designer living in a major design hub: New York City.

“The city itself is so dense and even sometimes congested, but I see that as an opportunity for more narratives to be told and more ways for me to get nspired.”

Having grown up in the Philippines, Nikki thoughtfully incorporates fragments of home into her personal work, while still being challenged to become more experimental given her current location.

With previous experience working with various publications, Nikki created "Tales From the Archipelago," a print publication filled with narratives of young Filipinos living in the US. As a
Filipina in a foreign city, she knew there had to be others out there who were on the same boat as her. The entire publication housed these stories –– ones of displacement; of homesickness; of independence, and of community-building.

The same message and echoes of sentimentality reverberate in another project she embarked on to flex her creative juices: a postage stamp with an illustration of a Philippine mango. Using this iconic fruit as an emblem of Philippine culture, she sold these as stickers to Filipinos in New York –– literally giving them a slice of home in the process.

As evidenced by this project, food is a big source of inspiration for Nikki as well. “I’ve once compared design to cooking in such a way that a chef cooks something up with purpose and
intention, and that dish isn’t just something that benefits the chef but is something that’s going to be consumed by someone,” she said.

In cultivating her design career, Nikki is finding her footing through different avenues. After graduating with honors from Parsons School of Design’s AAS Communication Design program,
Nikki did not waste any time in gaining more professional experience under her belt.

Having a sharper understanding of the NYC design scene, she started working as part of the brand and communications team at ROOM. She worked on various brand assets, from
newsletters to social media posts. Nikki described her style as “bold and quirky, yet concise and functional,” making this startup a great fit for a first job as they help companies create modern and practical workspaces.

While this laid the groundwork for her to learn the intricacies of becoming an in-house designer and seeing what it takes to build a successful product from the ground up, Nikki knew that there was more to learn as well in dealing with an array of clients.

Now, as one of two designers at a three-person design studio called Klyxx Creative, Nikki is thriving as she juggles various accounts while growing alongside the company as a designer
who is still forging her own identity. “There’s always something new and unexpected to learn every day,” she beamed.

Two years into living in New York, and Nikki knows that there still so much in store for her in the city. In the meantime, she continues to immerse herself in all there is to discover about
design –– while channeling her artistic abilities into telling stories through her work, both personal and agency-based.

We can only sit tight while waiting for what Nikki does next. She might just be the name behind your next favorite campaign, or eventually open up a studio of her own. Whatever it is, Nikki
Roxas is a name to look out for.

For inquiries, you may check out her portfolio, or contact her at roxasnicola@gmail.com.

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