The Philippines is the inspiration for this new Uniqlo collection

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Ortega's designs for Uniqlo's Feel the SEA collection are inspired by days spent at the beach in her hometown of Cebu. Photos courtesy of UNIQLO PHILIPPINES

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Wherever she may be, it seems that Paulina Ortega never loses her connection to home.

Throughout her eight-year career, the Sydney-based visual artist and designer has worked with both local and international clients like Bench, Barbie, Samsung, and HaagenDazs, among others.

When we last spoke to her in 2017 for her collaboration with Float Swim, she talked about the importance of continuing to do work in the Philippines despite being abroad, saying she wanted to “contribute and do my tiny part in adding to the conversations that help shape the evolving Filipino identity and creative landscape.”

IMG-3790.JPG Artist Paulina Ortega in one of her designs for Uniqlo's Feel the SEA collection. Photo by NATALIA PARSONSON

Her latest project, a collaboration with Uniqlo for the Feel the SEA collection, is inspired by her hometown of Cebu, where she says she spent weekends at the beach growing up, riding boats, and reading (and drawing) under palm trees.

“I was especially excited to be involved in a project that sought to highlight South East Asian culture and artists,” she said in an email interview. “Representation is so important, and for a company like Uniqlo to use their huge platform to give a voice to emerging talent in the region was an opportunity I really wanted to jump at. It was very meaningful to me to be able to create designs that were, in a way, inspired by the Philippines, that Filipinos could wear and potentially see themselves and a bit of their culture in.”

As one of the three South East Asian designers handpicked by Uniqlo to design for the collection, it was important for Ortega to strike the balance between her personal style and the brand’s design philosophy of making clothing intended for everyone, everywhere. The result is a laid back, tropical-themed set reminiscent of Henri Matisse’s cut out collages, which Ortega says served as an inspiration — proof of her unique, multidisciplinary approach to her artistry.

IMG-3804.JPG “It was very meaningful to me to be able to create designs that were, in a way, inspired by the Philippines, that Filipinos could wear and potentially see themselves and a bit of their culture in,” says Ortega. Photo by NATALIA PARSONSON

On where she’s off to next, it seems she’s keen on exploring working with fabrics more. Her work with Float, she says, “was sort of the seed that started my growing fascination on working with fabrics.” Currently, she’s working on a collection of hand-painted scarves. “There is something to be said about being able to wear a piece of art or design, something valuable in being able carry it with you always, and that's something I'm very interested in exploring further.”