DMTV Milkshake: Amanda Gunawan on Doing Everything – And Doing It Beautifully

05.31.23 | By
DMTV Milkshake: Amanda Gunawan on Doing Everything – And Doing It Beautifully

Amanda Gunawan brings new meaning to the word “multi-hyphenate”: The creator-architect-builder-entrepreneur-designer-runner has an unbelievable ability to channel a consistent vision across her many projects. Founding Principal of the LA architectural practice OWIU (Only Way Is Up), Gunawan recently launched an aesthetically aligned ceramics and housewares collection, OWIU Goods. It is, no surprise, a gorgeous collection – representative of Gunawan’s nature-centric take on modernism.

Grouping of ceramics on boxes

OWIU Goods

It’s a product of her unique upbringing: Born in Indonesia, she was raised in Singapore and now makes California home, taking inspiration from these diverse yet harmonious influences. In this week’s Milkshake, we asked her specifically how the aesthetic culture of Japan, another reference, manifests itself in her practice and in her work: “This is a very loaded question for me – obviously I’m very inspired by Japanese culture and Japan as a whole,” she says. “I would say it’s their passion and their dedication to craftsmanship that really impresses me. Someone told me a story about [this] once – let’s say someone Japanese is working at a coffee shop. They are not trying to become the manager of the coffee shop. They’re just trying to make the best damn cup of coffee they can ever make. And I think that’s so special.” This aspect also resonates in the design of her ceramics work: “I’m very inspired by the culture of gift giving [within Japanese culture],” she says. There is a certain depth to it, where the gift kind of represents the context in which the person receives the gift. And I like that because it means that there is a sentiment that is attached to this particular object. That’s exactly what we are trying to achieve with OWIU Goods. We’re trying to say that an object should have more than just an aesthetic appeal to someone – it should have a sentimental attachment, too.”

interior shot of modern living space with high ceilings and dining table

exterior shot looking into modern living room through sliding glass doors with l-shaped white sofa

Also in this week’s Milkshake: Amanda shares some exceptionally relevant advice for people striving to get everything done – when we asked her for her secret, she told us that the reality is a little more complicated than it might seem. How does she get it all done? With help. “I have an incredible team to help with this – so I’m not doing this alone,” she says. “Also, I don’t aim for 100 percent. I never do – I [usually] aim for 80%. My work, or my life, is a marathon. And because of that, I kind of have to pace everything out.”

interior shot of modern space with chair, table and hanging white pendants

For more from Amanda, tune in! To see more of Amanda and OWIU’s work, click here!

angled interior shot of modern living room in light colors

interior shot of modern bar with all black furnishings

Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.

Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life and passions.