Welcoming Joanne Manzano Morris, one of Asia’s most highly regarded Design Directors
As Unispace Asia continues its growth trajectory, we are delighted to welcome Joanne Manzano Morris as Senior Principal, Design. Joanne brings two decades of expertise in solving problems through design for clients across the Asia region. She brings a wealth of experience, most recently from Geyer and Woods Bagot, in design management and team leadership.
“I’m thrilled to be able to play a key role in building Unispace’s reputation as world-class designers in the Asia region. I was attracted to Unispace’s ambitious regional expansion plans and excited by the prospect of leading an extremely talented team” said Joanne.
Paul Baxter, CEO of Unispace in Asia adds “The appointment of Joanne bolsters our design leadership across the region, providing our clients with yet another industry heavyweight to entrust their projects with.”
We spoke to Joanne to find out about her background, what attracted her to Unispace, what she’s looking forward to most, and what excites her professionally.
Q: Tell us a bit about your background and professional experience.
I grew up in the Philippines and attended college where I played varsity football (soccer). My love for the game and for what it teaches a young person – discipline, team dynamics and responsibility – is what led me to volunteer for many years to coach youth football in Singapore
This theme of mentoring, coaching and developing young talent continues in my professional life today. I’m passionate about developing people’s skills and creating vibrant and dynamic team cultures.
My international experience with many blue-chip clients including Google, BHP, HSBC and Nokia, has provided me with deep exposure to the retail, hospitality and workplace sectors.
Q: What do you love about your job the most?
I love to challenge conventions and expectations, creating environments that go beyond expectations. Experience design is where our profession is moving towards – experienced-based workplaces, retail experiences and hospitality experiences will soon become normalised as companies and brands rely on this to differentiate. Experience design blurs the lines between work, life, learn and play and positively impacts on the wellbeing of those who use the space.
I love seeing these spaces come together and hear about how their occupiers’ work lives are improved as a result of the space.
Q: What drew you to Unispace?
Unispace is building a great reputation throughout the Asia region, and I’m excited to become a part of its growth story. Unispace’s Design team kept me on my toes when I was competing with them, so I knew first-hand the quality of talent the brand had amassed to date. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be part of this team as we set Unispace up for regional dominance.
Q: What are your priorities in your new role?
Heading up design management for the Asia region, I will progress the foundations laid by Kristian Jones, which includes growing the Design discipline in key markets, improving systems, processes and partnerships, and expanding skillsets. Kristian Jones and I will partner together to elevate creative thinking within the team and push the envelope on design standards.