Design for All

Senior Designer of Ashton Design

by Elizabeth Lavis


29 Jun 2023

Discovery of the Year 2020
"For better or worse, design is always evolving"

Noni Devora's designs are an intoxicating mixture of storytelling, humor, and multi-disciplinary techniques that always call back to her small-town Filipino roots. "I'm from a quaint little town in the Philippines," she says. "It's a country with such a lively and colorful culture, tons of texture, and playful imagery, which usually find their way into my projects. Humor is an important way Filipinos connect, so I try to add whimsy and good humor in my work, especially in seemingly serious projects"

Devora's independent design studio focuses heavily on cultural efforts and local businesses and bills itself as "design for all," emphasizing civil rights, justice, and the planet. Through weaving in different print, branding, digital, and web techniques, Devora is able to foster connection and create a strong, clear message with her work.


Another critical aspect of Devora's success is her belief in collaboration over competition, a principle she adopted when getting her master's degree at the Maryland Institute College of Art. "I used to be a perfectionist who thought that the only way to succeed was to compete, but that all changed," she says. "I gained so much insight from my classmates and other international students. We all wanted to see each other grow."

Initially, Devora gravitated more toward animation rather than design. "I didn't know much about the design world when I took it as my major at Ateneo de Manila University," she says. "I wanted to make animation, but the university didn't offer it. In hindsight, I'm lucky to have landed in design, as it was the perfect blend of creative and strategic work. I just fell in love with it." 

Devora's approach is purpose-driven and full of clear intent. "Every aspect of the project is carefully thought out and injected with a little bit of personality," she says. "I also make sure that the concept shines throughout and that the style or form reinforces the key idea."

In true collaborative form, Devora sees design as a type of conversion with the client, her fellow designers, and the intended audience. She begins with the initial conversation, adds plenty of research, and gets to the project's core aim through a strategic framework and plenty of out-of-the-box thinking. Using the guiding principle that concept is greater than style, Devora draws inspiration from a variety of different influences, design magazines, and social platforms.   

When faced with client criticism, Devora keeps a cool head and asks follow-up questions to get to the heart of the criticism. "It's so easy to get defensive in these situations, but I tend not to take these personally in order to respond properly," she says. This communication style, combined with Devora's transparent design process, helps her establish a quick rapport with clients and lets them feel involved and at ease throughout every step.

Devora keeps her designs fresh by staying open to different styles and techniques. "For better or worse, design is always evolving," she says. When Devora is not devising innovative ways to present her clients and their message, she likes to unplug from technology and spend time outdoors. "I look for ways to enjoy life away from the screen," she says. "I go on nature trips, find new spots to hang out at, play with design techniques and daydream about my future farm."

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