Jonathan Olivares

Name: Jonathan Olivares
Profession: Industrial Designer
Location: Los Angeles
Age: 39

Questionnaire: Jonathan Olivares

Describe yourself in a single sentence?
– An industrial designer, living and working in Los Angeles.

What was your last thought before falling asleep last night?
– I sometimes, just before falling asleep, realize that I am having nonsensical thoughts, which means that I am falling asleep, and it’s always an exciting feeling to have. But I can never remember what those thoughts are.

What is the first thing you think about when you wake up?
– Usually I feel regret that the night’s sleep is over, until I can muster some excitement about the new day. I love sleeping so it’s always a challenging transition for me.

Describe your bedroom. What objects do you surround yourself with?
– My bedroom is empty, except for a bed and side tables for my wife and I, where we keep water, our alarm clocks and some crystals. Our dog Jazzy is there too. We just moved the television out of the bedroom, which makes the bedroom feel so much more generous, spatially and to the mind. We don’t read in bed, we literally just go in there to sleep. Something about that is so restful.

Why do you create?
– Creating presents an opportunity, a possibility of something that hasn't come into shape yet, and that state of pursuit and the picture that gradually reveals itself until a project is done is addictive. I am also attracted to the idea that over a career these projects stack up to something larger than each individual project. Then there is the very tangible need that each project is based around, somehow dealing with that reality in a satisfying way is also extremely motivating.

Talent is that something you’re born with or something you can learn?
– I love the Thomas Edison quote “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration.” But then I also relate to something one of my favorite MCs G.U.R.U. said “If you ain’t got it, you ain’t got it motherfucker.”

What’s your biggest load?
– Emails and calls. Very original stuff.

What do you think about sports?
– I grew up skateboarding and have begun to see the continuity between my interest in skateboarding and my practice as a designer. Both activities build on existing typologies (or invent new ones), both require personal style, both engage architecture and the body, and both thrive on a community of practitioners. I think there can be great practitioners in sports, the same as in design, who change the way that future generations practice.

What is your most twisted fantasy?
– I often think about how if I had a time machine I could go back to NYC in early 1986, go to the Paradise Garage, paint trains before the MTA had clamped down on graffiti, skateboard at the Brooklyn banks, and go to the Latin Quarters. I’m not sure I would come back! I also fantasize about having a Malibu workshop like Iron Man’s in the 2008 Marvel film, enabled with an AI and robots that could make whatever I wanted.

Do you listen to music when you work? If you do, what music? If don’t, why?
– I listen to music constantly, mostly 80s and 90s hip hop mostly from East Texas, Oakland and Vallejo. This music has the right energy for the kind of work I do. Incidentally it’s also the same music I like to listen to while skating or driving.

What historical event fascinates you the most?
– The innovation that was happening in skateboarding in the late 80s and early nineties, not just in the sport but also in skateboard design, the transition of board shapes, wheel sizes and truck design, and also the emergence of skate spots in some of the late modernist plazas like Embarcadero, Pier 7, Love Park, Freedom Plaza, the West L.A. Courthouse, and Copley Square.

Name your favourite restaurant?
– Musso & Franks in Hollywood

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
– Shout out to Brujas… R.I.P. MF Doom… Free Cory Kennedy!

Editor's note: Cory Kennedy was actually let out of prison the 19th of April.

Photography by Jonathan Olivares, Los Angeles, 2021.