Where are you from?
Born and raised in Houston, TX.
How did you begin to design things?
From when I was a kid, I was always drawing and making and, perhaps most importantly, playing (even when it was considered “work”). I would draw spaceships with aquariums and furniture and objects and people, assemble scraps of material into scenes, sew endless variations of pouches or whatever object I was focused on at the moment, dot dot dot. So I don’t really remember how I began designing things per se. I just remember always doing it. Sometimes more loosely, sometimes more logically, sometimes more rigorously.
Does the place you are from influence your work?
Definitely! I think the amazing qualities of Houston really stem from a laissez-faire mind-set that is steeped in aspiration and big-thinking but also in security and comfort. As a result, there’s a sense of a quiet do-your-thing attitude that is more about developing ideas and practice than about external trend and validation. I really admire that. And I think Los Angeles, where I’m now based, adds dimension to that mode of practice and being. I hope that Otaat can, in a sense, develop a “quiet” and “subtlety” that is distinctive and comfortable and comforting - all with a touch of clever and humor and rigor.
What continues to inspire you?
Smart people with distinct world views.
What are you reading right now?
I always enjoy Didion because her voice and mind are so specific. So she’s pretty constantly in my reading world. Also, I have a little stack on my nightstand: Raymond Chandler, Cato’s LBJ, and loads of old magazines. I actually love reading magazines from a year ago; it’s a bit “historical”!
What are you listening to right now?
Too much (and too embarrassing!) to list. But basically, I’m switching between 90s alternative and 10s electro-pop and 80s post-punk and hold-overs from holiday music.
What is your favorite object?
I love the ceramics my grandmother made in the 70s and 80s. There’s one in particular that is this a bowl with warped sides; it looks like the walls are undulating. The height is just tall enough to be a tiny “catch-all”, which is functionally perfect. The exterior color is halfway between a bright jade and a pea green, and the interior is a light cream. I love it for sentimental reasons but also because it’s just weird!
Where do you see the future of design headed?
Everywhere! I feel like there are so many ideas and so many interests that design will just go and be everywhere. It seems like design will be fragmented and messy, where the concept of “acceptable” and “interesting” will be torn apart into multitudes of threads.
What do you think people should think about when they buy objects related to design?
I hope that everyone start to gain more and more appreciation for the details and for workmanship. I think it’s important for objects to be long-term companions to life - that they are not disposable - and to be vessels for sentiment whether that sentiment is based on personal histories or world views.
Where would you like to travel?
I'd love to be able to travel back in time!
OTAAT now available at BREAD.