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Four Heads Are Better Than One: The Inner Workings of Hydra Design Studio

[L-R] Members of Hydra Design Group: Joyce Tai and Rex Advincula of Inksurge, Ivan Despi and Pauline Despi of Acid House, Bernice de Leon-Yumul and Dan Matutina of Plus63 Design Studio, and Maybelle Uy and Kaye Llanto of KM Interior Design (Photos by Agatha Meg of Parallax Studio)

You might think the creative process happens in the confines of a secluded space, yet a collective of designers offers a fresh perspective. Tucked behind Poison Coffee & Doughnuts, hidden like a speakeasy, is the Hydra Design Group. The concept behind it is simple: they are four creative studios – Plus63 Design Co., Inksurge, The Acid House, and KM Interior Design– that decided to commune together in one office. 


In the common rooms of Hydra Design Studio, dream concepts are materialized out of collaboration. 

Hydra Design Studio is tucked behind Poison Coffee and Doughnuts, a cafe with a personality of its own.

What brought them together was a joke on April Fools. Kaye Lianto of KM Interior Design got a text from Dan Matutina of Plus63 Design Co., bringing up the idea of them working together in one space. Matutina had been working with Inksurge and The Acid House for some time already, and brought these into the venture. It remained a bit of a joke until Charles Paw entered the picture. The CEO of Tasteless Food Group, Paw had been a client of Plus63 Design Co. and KM Interior Design. He told them the four groups and offered the possibility of making that concept into an actual reality. Soon after, they chanced upon a vacant space in The Alley at Karrivin in Makati, and went to see it together. It took just one look for everyone to know that the concept had come to life right then and there.

Before they converged into Hydra, each brand had been immersed in its own business. Plus63 Design Co. is a seven-year branding and graphic design studio that also does events on the side. Inksurge has been doing website design and graphic design for 15 years. The Acid House is a post-production studio that works for channels and TVCs. KM Interior Design started with two interior designers doing side jobs for clients, which eventually formalized into an established interior design firm.

The KM Interior Design studio designed the interiors of Digital Walker, Le Petit Soufflé and the Rockwell residences.

Plus63 Design has produced designs for the UP Fighting Maroons, Theo & Philo, and many other clients.

Now it has been around eight months since their commune in August 2017. KM Interior Design made the space to be bare — off-white walls accented with concrete, steel and wood. It is a blank canvas, so they say, with the identity and personality of each creative group that gives it color and brings it life.

All groups may still work as independent businesses — each have their own separate rooms in the Hydra office — but there have been instances when two or more of them helped one another in joint undertakings. Interior design ideas were further developed by concepts in branding. Brand ideas come to life with graphics design and animation. All these became easier by just crossing one room to another, and this is what gives Hydra soul and purpose. This has borne fruit as it recently opened its first project called Cuba Libre, a venture by Tasteless Food Group that was worked on by The Acid House and KM Interior Design.

Inksurge Studio’s quirky space, from where they’ve served such clients as Alliance Francaise, Holy Carabao and Heima.


A sneak peak into The Acid House post-production studio

The concept of creative groups working together has been well for Hydra Design Group. Gone were the days for them when they live in their own seclusion buried in work, and in were the times for them to belong in one creative community. One can think of a great idea alone, but wouldn’t more than one be able to come up with something greater?

This article was published in the adobo magazine Trends 2018 issue.

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