6 Things with Amanda Gunawan of OWIU Design

Amanda Gunawan has always believed in the thoughtful design and dedication to one's craft. Only Way Is Up Design (OWIU Design) is the product of her architectural journey and is the manifestation of her vision in aesthetics and precision of form, coupled with a strong sense of purpose and intention. She and her team set out to  create spaces that are not just built to last, but built to evolve.

1. What started it all for you?

I wish I had a more interesting story to tell but I was one of those people who knew what they wanted to do since they were little. I had always wanted to be an Architect ever since I was young, went to Architecture school and never changed my mind since. I graduated from Sci-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture) and landed my dream job at an Architecture firm here in Los Angeles.

Less than a year into the role, I was presented with opportunities in the design world that were too attractive for me to turn down, but was forced to make a decision of taking a huge risk and starting my own firm at such a young age or stay in that job that I liked. And I took that leap of faith.

I thought "If not now, then when? I will never have as much energy and grit the way I do now and if I had failed, at least I tried." It’s been 5 years and I haven’t looked back since!

2. What drives your creative spark?

In a world that is obsessed with efficiency and performance, I believe that things that possess a humanistic element to them are the most valuable ones. I love things with a lot of “heart”. In the creative world, it is design that is thoughtful and carefully considered and crafted. I love meeting makers who are passionate about what they do, whose products carry about them the history, culture and thought process behind the makers.

I love traveling to different regions of the world and meeting craftsmen who take a lot of pride in what they do. I love learning from them and I also love collaborating with them in order to create a melting pot of different ideas together.

I set aside a lot of time for contemplation and meditation when designing something or making something happen and being able to create something that is meaningful is what motivates me everyday.

3. Most treasured home decor item?

At the moment, my ceramics collection. I have a tradition where I buy back a piece of ceramics from every travel and every time I use it, I am transported back to that particular memory- I know exactly where I bought it and how I felt at that moment. My ceramics collection is therefore very precious to me because in some ways, it documents so many significant moments in my life.

4. What’s the best advice you've ever received?

It is to treat every setback as an opportunity to grow and learn. And to never be afraid to admit that you can’t do it all. The faster you can accept obstacles as part and parcel of life, the easier life becomes, you really start to enjoy the journey!

5. It's 5 o'clock at home. What would you be pouring?

I don’t drink alcohol and I am very particular about my caffeine intake, so I am pouring myself a nice cup of bone broth or burdock tea.

6. What are your 6 favorite accounts that you follow for inspiration?


"In a world that is obsessed with efficiency and performance, I believe that things that possess a humanistic element to them are the most valuable ones." -Amanda Gunawan