Since 2011, DesignTO has featured a wealth of talent through our annual festival and year-round programming. The Artist + Designer Spotlight series gives our audience the chance to learn more about the creatives showcasing their work.

Bianca Weeko Martin is a multi-faceted designer, artist and past DesignTO exhibitor. Recently, Bianca showcased the work ‘Universal House/Particular House’ at the 2022 DesignTO Festival. We caught up with Bianca to learn more about her and her practice.

How would you describe your profession and your practice?

I studied architecture, branched out into publishing and curation, and am a passionate practitioner of the arts and the Internet.

Has your work changed over the course of your career?

I spent my undergraduate degree interning at various corporate and boutique-sized architectural firms around the world, and upon graduating began working locally and increasingly more in the sphere of artists and art institutions. Throughout all of this, I maintained a drawing practice and kept a series of notebooks. I have only recently started to scale these drawings up – through research, digital tools, and different art-making approaches.

Is your work inspired by anything in particular? What turns you on creatively?

I am inspired by history and the future. My most important source of inspiration oscillates between my family histories and ancestral stories, and my dreams and speculations of what the city around me could be.

Illustrations by Bianca Weeko Martin. Courtesy of the designer.
Which designers or artists inspire you and why?

Philip Beesley, my mentor; Danh Vo and Julie Mehretu for their skill and stories; Leandro Locsin for his contribution to Filipino design identity; my best friend Pablo Prado Serrano; and all the talented and beautiful artists, writers, curators, illustrators, planners, photographers, academics, and graffiti writers who I am so lucky to have in my immediate circle of peers.

The last few years have been a wild ride. How has it changed you for the better?

I decided to do my Master of Architecture during the pandemic. Ironically, this somewhat predictable move actually jump-started many of the art projects I find myself engaged with now, as I was allowed the time and resources to dedicate myself to research. With the isolation and remoteness that the pandemic restrictions brought, I conducted online video calls with members of my family and became fixated on my dad’s ancestral house in the Philippines. I was on the curatorial team of ‘Faith and Fortune: Art Across the Global Spanish Empire’, an exhibition on Spain, Latin America and the Philippines, which is on at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) until October. Basically, this past year has given me so many opportunities to learn!

Why is DesignTO important to the creative community, here as well as abroad?

I have only recently begun my involvement with DesignTO, but I think that its programming is absolutely important for empowering and uniting the creative community in Toronto across disciplines and interests, and as a sort of collective brainstorming activity for how we can best represent nascent “Toronto design” for the rest of the world.

‘Universal House/Particular House’ by Bianca Weeko Martin. Part of the 2022 DesignTO Festival.
Do you have any memories from past DesignTO Festivals you want to share?

I went on a crisp, but beautiful, walk around Yonge and St. Clair a couple of years ago for a DesignTO walking tour. I went to high school in North York so it was awesome to see the lobbies and hidden spaces of my adolescence reactivated in a new light.

Can you give us a sneak peek at what you’re working on?

I’ve been a bit obsessed with palimpsests and domestic space.