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Visiting a person’s workspace is like taking a peek into their brain. Whether it’s at home or in a shared studio or office, Nice Work explores where creative people do all of their, well, creating.

Name: Amanda Gunawan

Occupation: Architectural designer and founding partner of OWIU design studio.

Where I work: A would-be apartment called the Biscuit Loft in Los Angeles’s former Nabisco factory. I was supposed to just live in it, but I started working there alone during the pandemic. Once things started opening up, I invited my colleagues, and it slowly became our office space. It would have been too weird at that point to say, “Okay, I’m gonna move in; we have to go back to our other office now!” So now I have a new apartment.

Time I start: I wake up at 5 a.m., but I usually get into the office around 8:45.

Time I clock out: It depends. We do quite a bit of work in Asia, so when we have calls with those clients, I leave closer to 7:30 p.m. If I don’t have a crazy deadline, I should be out of the office by 5:30 or 6. 

How I get to work: I drive. It’s about 12 minutes to get there.  

Three words that describe my space: Serene, light, and spacious. There aren’t a lot of walls, so it feels very freeing.

Most important thing in my office: The Eames lounge chair. Many of us spend a lot of time in it. It’s in a great corner where it gets the best light.

What’s on the walls: I like buying artwork that’s sentimental, so I have a painting by one of my best friends, Fong Min Liao. Each piece she makes has such soft, feminine energy. 

Current creative fuel: Architecture is problem-solving. It can become very algorithmic, but at the same time it flows like art for me. I draw most of my inspiration from the world around me, and I like using my camera. When I take pictures, I pay more attention to the details, and that activates my senses, allowing things to flow. 

What I turn to when I’m stuck: Some days it might be a true meditation process or more of an active meditation such as running. Other times, it’s doing something like cooking, where I follow a series of steps. 

How I stay organized: I’m a systems person. For me, staying organized means that the system I have in my head doesn’t break down. I love to-do lists, but they have to be manually written. I like making the little checkboxes and crossing them out. It brings me joy. 

Favorite pen: The Pentel Tradio fountain pen. It’s almost like a calligraphy instrument and feels like writing with a brush. It’s not for speedy note taking, but it makes everyone’s handwriting look so good. If you’re working on a really nice handwritten note, this is the one.  

Best notebook: I love Japanese notebooks; the paper quality is superior. I like the ones from Muji that come in a pack of five. I also go to Kinokuniya, and there’s a stationery shop in downtown L.A. called Hightide that carries a lot of great Japanese brands. It’s very hard for me to walk out of that store empty-handed.  

Technology I can’t live without: A treadmill. I don’t have one in the office, but I run for 15 minutes before work and I’m set for the day. Works better than caffeine! 

Desk chair that I could (and do) spend hours in: We have the Herman Miller Aeron chairs in our office. My colleagues have gotten so spoiled! Sometimes they have to work in our Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory), a different building about 15 minutes away from the office, and one of our coworkers brings his Aeron chair with him.

How I fight the 3 p.m. slump: I usually do a lunch workout or have some matcha, or I take a walk with my dogs, Koby and Kipper. 

Ideal office snack: We love our snacks. Whenever I travel, I always bring goodies back, and I have a suitcase full of snacks from Singapore. We really love Aroma Truffle Chips right now, and we also eat a lot of senbei, Japanese rice crackers. 

Preferred soundtrack: We always fight over it. I’m not allowed to pick the music, because even though I’m told I like all the good bands, I always choose the worst songs—I like the slow love ballads! But we all like jazz, and everyone is into Fela Kuti; he’s a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist. They like the upbeat stuff.

Things I Can’t Work Without

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