Danika Rio Navarro: Fashion, Letters, Love

Jack of all trades, master of all. Danika Navarro is living proof that it’s more than possible.

On weekdays, she’s the creative director/tastemaker behind Nava Boutique, a retail store that takes being fashion forward a few steps further. On weekends, she’s the designer and letterer at Studio Rio, a self-made brand with over thousands of followers online. Somewhere in the in-betweens, Danika is a fashion blogger, a teacher, and a dancer.

Danika Rio Navarro: Fashion, Letters, Love | Design Made Happy

Despite the abundance of work to do, there’s no evidence of hurry or haste in any of her work. Instead, all of it shares Danika’s brand of modern and spunky elegance. From the nooks and crannies of each Nava Boutique store to the little details in her lettering work, you get that same sense of adventurous pursuit – but with all the elegance, intuition, and warmth of someone gifted with wisdom.

The unity in her work speaks of experience, intention, and mastery. In other words, Danika’s got this.

“I used to think that designing was simply about making beautiful things. But understanding what design is and how it works allowed me to understand that it is different from art. While art is fueled by emotion, design is directed by function. Unlike art, design is also used to come up with creative solutions. Knowing these things made me pay more attention to the details and other elements that make up my creations.”

Danika Rio Navarro: Fashion, Letters, Love | Design Made Happy

A line links to a line, that line bridges to another line, and that line loops around another line. Lines upon lines upon lines make up a letter. The letters make the whole.

Charles Eames once said, “The details are not just details. They make the design.”

Of course, it was Danika who brought this to our attention. After which she shared her own quotable quote. “Details, when carefully selected and assembled, can give birth to the most beautiful and significant masterpieces that satisfy both form and function.”

In a field where you could literally go wild with possibilities, Danika’s love of details gives her work that signature balance between control and care-free artistry. Lettering-wise, her lines allow her messages to pop out, and more importantly, resonate.

The passion that began from doodling numbers and letters in her high school notebooks is now something she shares as a workshop teacher.

“I love sharing my passion to people. To get to teach it is a dream come true for me ’cause I’ve secretly wanted to do it for years… It could get tiring and challenging sometimes because lettering is a broad field which also takes a lot of practice, and I have to teach it within 5 hours. But at the end of the day, I see the final artworks of my students and then I realize just how privileged I am to have the opportunity to contribute to the learning of others.”

Danika Rio Navarro: Fashion, Letters, Love | Design Made Happy

Lettering workshop led by Danika Rio, held at Heima Brixton (2015)

Danika isn’t just a creative director and she isn’t just a letterer. She’s both. As a maker of things, she expends energy and insight equally into both her crafts. In that way, the fashion and the letters feed off each other – a feedback loop of creative energy. You could say it’s her version of blooming where she’s planted.

“I’m honestly not as passionate or skilled in other things, so maybe this is where I’m supposed to be. So I might as well do my best to bloom here where He has planted me.”

It’s a humble admission. Recognizing that her eye for design is a gift, Danika Navarro has run away with it and planted new trees all over the place.

Danika Rio Navarro: Fashion, Letters, Love | Design Made Happy

Danika is a hotspot of energy and bright laughter in person. The sunlight, warmth, and positivity in all her posts are multiplied tenfold – so much so that it’s not really a surprise that Danika is where she is now. Being kind can take you far. This, plus her skills and determination allowed her to bag three trophies from the Philippine Graphic Design Awards, along with a couple of features in the Philippine Star, Adobo Magazine, and Style awards.

To describe her more accurately, Danika seems to be on a coffee high, spiked with what she says is passion and purpose. Charging forward, she sees a path where she continues to create by teaching, collaboration, and creating ground for her own merchandise, type team, and studio.

Coming from a place deeper than creativity, she talks about all of this in a spiritual way. “I’ve always acknowledged that the desire and skill to do what I do is a gracious gift from God. I did not gain this knowledge, these techniques, and these experiences on my own. I understand that God has given me this passion as an opportunity to inspire and influence and I just don’t want to waste it.”


Danika Rio Navarro: Fashion, Letters, Love | Design Made Happy

To everyone else who wants to be a master of their trades, Danika Navarro suggests: Keep yourself inspired. Always be willing to learn. Practice whenever possible.




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