MAKATI, METRO MANILA
Stepping away from familiar ground, Andi Osmeña—Manila-based DJ, industrial design student and writer on the side— takes a deep dive into a discussion on virtual DJ gigs, clothing, design and the future of the future.
How’s life recently? We’ve seen you’ve been doing a lot of online DJ gigs.
Since we’re doing it online, we have to completely change our infrastructure– the way that we do gigs. In a documentary about the underground music industry, Honey Dijon mentioned that she prefers not to do streams because she feels like DJing in the club felt a lot like it was about community. And I agree, it’s just hard to recreate that dynamic of connecting to an audience especially behind the screen.
It’s nice of you to convey a sense of intimacy to the current situation. Are there specific sets that recently inspired you or simply something you liked?
Yeah, for sure. This UK DJ named “Ends”, she plays a lot of breaks. And she’ll really pull out a mixed bag and hit all genres in one set. It’s really nice when two things that are vastly different have that one common denominator.
For you, is there a difference between DJing online and IRL?
I felt like it worked better for me when you’re able to talk and get a conversation going, and find it a bit awkward when it’s silent, you’re just looking at each other. I always thought of DJing as 10% skill, 10% pays, and 80% psychology. My favorite quarantine thing though is the idea of when there’s a stream going on and there’s a group chat involved. It’s such a nice way to meet new people.
Yeah I think it is a refreshing POV for socializing now. It’s exactly what we’re doing –being in a zoom call, our first time to meet and talk.
So besides music, we saw the pair of shoes you designed on Instagram. Was that a project for school, can you share the story behind it?
The promise was to make our research a compilation of Philippine cultural artifacts. I wanted to have a decent mix of things you find at the National Museum along with more vernacular things you find on the street, because I have this fascination with “tubero” posters. I decided to make a waterproof clog that an actual plumber might wear, as inspired by Nicole McLaughlin.
That is brilliant, a Nicole McLaughlin piece–but make it “tubero”! We noticed that she’s also into a lot of techwear and hiking clothing, what is the affinity between industrial designers and techwear?
A lot of my blockmates and friends are obsessed with techwear, Gore-Tex and Vibram. When it comes to hiking, materials are so important. Construction is just built around practicality. I am very much into having backpacks that have a lot of compartments that fit my needs perfectly. And I think it really goes in line with industrial design because of technicality, and then design next. It’s about how something works, not just how it looks.
See, my favorite design is the monoblock chair, because it’s not patented. And anyone can make their own version. It’s like it was designed for accessibility. It was built to be stackable and doesn’t break easily.
Any projects that you would like to boast about?
I feel like my most successful project was when we were tasked to do a packaging design. My gimmick was that the packaging is the product, so I made an air freshener that looked like an “Ylang-ylang”. There was a national competition for that, and I ended up getting top five.
But damn, I feel so bad about all the cardstock I’ve wasted on the prototype.
Speaking of waste, you mentioned that there’s a lot of waste in prototyping. Do you take the environment into consideration when designing?
I think the most important factor in making environmentally friendly products will always be materials. But to me, in order to actually solve the environmental crises that have been caused by consumption like ocean plastics and pollution in general, is waste management.
There is this one article that I wrote about when everyone was buying metal straws. That was the craze, and I had mixed feelings about it. I get the idea that if they end up in the ocean, there’s a chance that the turtle will try to eat it. But the thing is, consumer plastics is actually a very small part of the pie of what makes up ocean plastic.
What really does contribute to it is fishing, when fishermen leave their nets. Can you imagine how massive an industrial fishing net is, and then they just ditch that? It breaks down and ends up capping other plastics.
But in a world that’s run by hustle culture, we’re just gonna have to keep making things to make money. I am conflicted a lot of the time, does the world really need more stuff?
The future does have a lot to offer then. So in designing products, what does it take to say: “Okay! This is good to go”
I think honestly my bottom line is: does it spark joy, is it value adding? That can be the lowest common denominator about most designs. Sometimes my style can range from nature-inspired to industrial, it would actually be nice to marry the two.
What do you think is the best interpretation of the future for design?
I guess Y2K is the best interpretation of the future, or maybe like the film “Children of Men”. Ruthless science fiction, basically. What I love about Y2K is that it’s both retro and futuristic, because it reminds us of a time when we were hopeful about the future.