UnderStated__EP002 ___Life Design

Interview and Creative Direction by Cyril Edet
Photography by Christine Dang

The embodiment of “childlike but not childish”, Xylk and FeeF of Life Design are the self-proclaimed “Creative Jehovah’s Witnesses”. Aiming to reach all the senses, Life Design centers on the connection between humans, with Filipino culture as their grounding point. We caught up with the two at their studio to discuss their unorthodox journey so far, and where they’re headed. 

Life Design

(From Left to Right): FeeF & Xylk, Life Design
Cyril: Is there any symbolism to the logo and the chain? And if so, what is it?

Xylk: The logo is a 3D graphic. It's a sun, but it’s also a flower. Filipinos since the launch of our cultural branding have been using the sun with 3 stars as a symbol to represent the country. The LD sun is our update for that. Because of the fact that it's 3D, if you were to lay it on its side like that, it's a volcano, actually. So it's kind of like a pyramid without the tip. 

Also it's a volcano to represent the many volcanoes in the Philippines, and it’s also a flower. It's very nature based, the design of the thing. But it's also a hurricane.  

There's a yearly hurricane and every hurricane and there's a different name to it, which goes in alphabetical order. So it's a huge part of Filipino culture to know which hurricane is coming next year. And it's just like a regular thing. It's like a yearly annual thing that people just need to be prepared for. So it's like that duality of like destruction and then rebirth.

Order and chaos.

So that's what that little logo stands for.

Cyril: There's lots of people on the page wearing the chain. What's the aim of the pictures and what are you trying to highlight?

Like I was saying initially, everyone is a life designer. Even before we're even in the "physical" realm. What are we doing? We're swimming. We're trying to get somewhere. We're trying to solve something. We're really trying to solve conception. So, like, we're born life designers. And on the page, you're seeing all different walks of people and energy because we're an energy company. So ultimately, that's what we're trying to resonate with. You're just looking at literally floating atoms.

I think it's also just a complete reference to hip hop. But you know, with any team or group that you're very proud of, the making of a chain is a huge statement saying that this is of value enough for you to create something that big and for you to "bless" every member of it with a chain, kind of like a Roc-A-Fella Chain. Only those people that have the chain are inducted in. And so, traditionally people who look like this and who are making things... for example, this guy is an ice cream vendor like these guys wouldn't be part of the exclusive team.

Especially with a chain made. So we're kind of saying that no, you guys are in, you guys get a chain. So that's the purpose of these photos, and then tying it with people that are in the Philippines, like the regular vendors that we come across, we put them in a chain and then now you see someone like Bambii, Majid Jordan, Nelly Furtado in the chain. We're saying they're all in the same team.

So that's the reason for the photos. It's unifying and it's acting as a bridge to connect the Philippines. I think that's kind of overlooked with here where our community, where we're born and raised, where a lot of our members are born and raised. So that's the purpose of the chain: it's to unify the two very different worlds.

Cyril: I like the idea of everybody just being able to be a member.

FeeF: We're all Life Designers.

Cyril: And then the lookbook here, you mentioned that. What's the idea behind the lookbook in terms of the purpose, what's it for, and what went into the decision to make it from fabric?

FeeF and Xylk with Life Design LookBooks 

Xylk: The decision was to put ourselves in a box. People tend to think of thinking outside the box as having restrictions and playing by rules.

We believe that playing by the rules is necessary or having a box and putting ourselves within restrictions is a way for us to have direction. So when we're making the clothes in the Philippines, the number one thing they do there is sublimate on polyester. And they mainly do that for basketball jersey making. We love basketball jerseys. Like, all of this is me from a family that makes basketball jerseys. But instead of basketball jerseys, we just said "okay, make this". So by putting ourselves in that restriction within the confinements of sublimation on polyester, this came about. So instead of having a lookbook digitally, we just stuck to our box. So what do we do? Sublimate on polyester. And that's what we did for the book. When we do our emails, we sublimate on polyester.

The line sheets too. Everything. You know the saying “learn the rules when you're a novice or an amateur so you can break them as a professional”. I think that resonates with what we're doing because ultimately, like Xylk and I didn't go to fashion school. We didn't go to design school. That's why we love referencing back to the community. These are all Life Designers that are solving creative problems for survival. So we're just doing it in a childlike manner. That's another philosophy that we believe as Life Designers. We do everything childlike, not childish.

Cyril: What are your inspirations, design wise?

The Philippines most definitely and I think also just our every day, just who we are, how we operate, how we observe and having this whole open parachute mindset. Like your mind is only open, you know?

Also too we look at a lot of bad stuff like "not good" things. And we always say we're here to solve things creatively. That means, you know, making something "not cool". So we look at everything from things we like and we don't like. We force ourselves to look at things we don't like.

That's why we watched the Kid Super show.

You outta pocket for that! *pulls out pocket*

We print on the pockets by the way.

I was going to say you're crazy for that, but for example, I seen a bunch of white women wear these weights and I was like, I want to be a part of that, too. And I was just like "Yo, you know how funny that would be? 

Cyril: I was about to ask what that was for, it reminds me of Rock Lee.

FeeF: I think it was Life Designer number 99 master stylist JJ that brought that up and Life Designer number, 74 Darcie. It's so funny how there's perspective in everything and like that's why there's nothing bad either. It's really all perspective. So it comes down to us just doing things and not having this preconceived way of doing it, you know what I mean? Like, this is funny to me.

Cyril: Beyond clothing, you also seem to have a focus on food. Is there anything else you're aiming to highlight? And what's the reasoning behind the ones you've done so far?

FeeF: All the senses.

Xylk: So we're trying to cover all the senses. Feel, touch, smell, hear, you know all that. That's why we have an album. 

Xylk: We have the restaurant BB’s down the street that we're part of and that's our offering to the whole Life Design world.

FeeF: A couple of weeks ago, it was just added to the Michelin guide.

FeeF: Just a fun fact.

Cyril: I was reading about the inception of that idea.

Xylk: We can make a bala band that says Life Design is Michelin.

FeeF: It is.

Xylk: Like Michelin recommended it. So Life Design is Michelin recommended.

FeeF: We actually have to do that and something for BB’s. We're actually supposed to make our own Michelin star.

Xylk: We'll wait until it's approved, like a guide. So we'll make a list and it's like these are all Life Design approved.

FeeF: Have you seen the logo before for Michelin?

Cyril: For Michelin? Yeah. Isn't it the guy? 

FeeF: No, that's the company. 

Xylk: So the Michelin star is pretty much like an asterisk. 

FeeF: So it's funny because it's kind of like the flower.

Xylk: So we can make one and we can just go like one of our segments would be going to places and giving them one, two or three fleas. It doesn't have to be food. It could be for vibes. 

FeeF: It's energy. It's all energy. 

FeeF: This is Life Design flea by the way. 

Xylk: Instead of saying vintage we say flea. 

FeeF: Like "that's flea".

Cyril: Out of all the food on Juan Bite Only, what's your number one, and why?

FeeF: Yo, this is hard. That's hard.

Xylk: I have a bunch that I didn't even release.

FeeF: If we're talking about taste, I'm gonna say balut.

FeeF: I've never... Like, you know, when you go to Paris and Paris is like the number one "great" place for food and all that jazz. Now when I go to the Philippines, it's like even though the way I got it was like, a man's riding on a bike and he's chanting something. It's so experience driven. And I've heard folk tales about it and I'm like, Yo, this is the same thing as when you go to those restaurants and they blindfold you and you're eating a stuffed bird. Like, this is the same thing for me on a level of delicacy, yeah, that is flea. That's 100% flea. I didn't know the Philippines even had that. So that was really cool. I don't know if you guys seen the video. It’s crazy.

Xylk: It's a fertilized duck egg. So there's a fetus of a duck inside with the beak and the feathers, and you eat the whole thing.

Xylk: We took it down, but I'll repost it.

Christine: There's the one in France, the Ortolan Bunting bird.

Xylk: Yes. You're crazy for knowing that.

FeeF: They're doing that and it's like this is "prestige".

Xylk: You know what that one is? That's crazy. I thought that was crazy. Ours is like, okay, it's an egg, whatever.

FeeF:  And the reason why you're blindfolded is to hide your head in shame!

Cyril: Because they're endangered.

FeeF: I'm not even trying to compare it on that level, it's just the fact that there's delicacies. And I feel like there should be respect, on all different facets.

Xylk: If you go to a country, you gotta do as the Romans do as they say. So I think that's just his mentality. By the way, when he goes to do these things, he's plant based. So he only eats meat Filipino food.

Xylk: I got I just got him adobo, like chicken adobo

Cyril: So on a scale of 1 to 5 fleas?

FeeF: Okay, I'm gonna give it five fleas for the experience.

Xylk: The taste is not bad too.

FeeF:  But we went to your mom's sister's...

Xylk: Oh, my mom's cousin.

Unreleased JUAN BiTE ONLY - FeeF eating Balut

FeeF: And there was a papaya slaw with... that was... What's the word? Other wordly. Like that was out of this world.

Xylk: We had the crabs and the whole spread. I forget what slaw was made with.

FeeF: That I'll never forget. I'll never forget that. And it was crazy because I think they were just doing that because it was his birthday, I believe. And like, I'm on a elliptical bike.

Xylk: Like a treadmill.

FeeF: Treadmill, with a plate!

FeeF: Yeah so definitely five fleas for that. For that whole concoction and just the experience. Like we shot a music video and cavity for on sight. The midnight lookbook. And after we were done, everyone, the people that made the trucker caps, the people that played in the band, the people that made the clothes, we were just all just there, like a full banana leaf rolled out, like it's a red carpet and just rice, chicken, mango, watermelon, pork. And we're using our hands, you know what I mean? That's shunned upon in certain places. But even for my own culture, using your hands is one of the most spiritual ways to eat and connect with others. SoI feel like, yeah, that's another five out of five fleas.

Cyril: Like where I'm from, we have swallow.

FeeF: Wait, where are you from?

Cyril: Nigeria.

FeeF: That's crazy. Okay you know about swallow! Bro if you go to the Philippines, it's different font, same thing it's actually ridiculous.

Xylk: It's funny because someone like Alex, who's Jamaican...

Xylk: Says the exact same thing.

FeeF: And you know, they have islands. Like I literally learned today, y'all have the most islands.

Xylk:  Yeah. 7000.

Xylk: It's actually like 7780.

Xylk: It's crazy. I can't even fathom 100 or 80 islands. How much is 80 islands bro? How many is that? And then how big it is. 7000 is just wild.

FeeF: That's why they really are funny and distinctive because they're actually on their own island. That's how I look at The Philippines. Yeah, they really are. They not really trying to do anything. They're just being themselves of service on their own island life.

Cyril: Life Designing.

Xylk: Life Designing.

Cyril: You put a twist on a bunch of old Nike's and Jordans recently. What was that for?

Xylk: Well, it started off with him [FeeF] putting them on the expensive dunks. If you put it on the Tiffs, the dunks and the Heinekens all at the same time, it's more so for us to be like nothing is of value except for our brand, except for Life Design.

Xylk: So it's like toning down what's hype. , I think it's more so a practice for us to be like... "okay, now, that's priceless". We get shoes from Nike every month. And first thing we would do is, you know, throw the patch on them or it's just to "devalue" it. I don't know if that makes sense, but it devalues it so that it becomes priceless.

Cyril: I get that.

Xylk: And also it's us. Like, ultimately, this logo *points to Nike logo* doesn't mean anything, this jersey doesn't mean anything unless LeBron is dropping 40 points a game. So it's like if we're doing all these neat things and you meet us as people and you like our character and you see the logo all up on us. I'm sorry, but you're going to like the logo, too. Yeah. You know, it's through affiliation.

FeeF: It's also the greatest logo of all time. So we're just getting that on the record.

Xylk: I can't say that.

FeeF: Greatest logo of all time. You know what I mean? And the swoosh is up there. Look at it. Look at the swoosh and then look at the logo. It's ritualistic to us.

Xylk: And also to the logo design, FeeF is naturally like that, just first look obviously he stands out. But I think for us, we put ourselves again in that box because if you look at every other logo, the vector of this doesn't even exist. There's no 2D version of Life Design.

Xylk: When you ask for it, on posters let’s say, it would all be black. And everyone's like, singular. Like, I cannot physically do it. It's not because I don't want to, I made it so that it doesn't you can't make it black or you can't make it any other shade. It's just designed so that it stands out naturally.

Cyril: What's next for Life Design?

 Xylk: I feel like we haven't even started.

Xylk: We haven't done anything yet. There's nothing. Nothing is out.

FeeF: You can't purchase anything.

Xylk: Like, if this was a show like we're still working on the pilot. And it's funny because people are familiar with life design already, as if it's already out. It's just us showing people the book and putting the chain on people. That's all we've been doing and we've been lucky enough to be in like Complex. Well, it's riffing off of the success of the grocery bags. I don't know what's next because I don't. I feel like we haven't even done the first step. You guys will know the first step.

FeeF: To go back to the whole concept of "it's an energy company". The best thing I could say is we're just going to continue to collect energy, transfer energy, whether it's, you know. Teezo Touchdown, becoming a Life Designer or of LeBron James becoming a Life Designer. We have a directory. We're just going to continue to collect Life Designers and put them in the directory. That's what we've just been doing.

Xylk: Like, if this was an era, this is our Jehovah Witness era.

Cyril: Knocking on the doors?

Xylk: We're the creative Jehovah Witnesses.

FeeF: Sharing the word, sharing the energy.

Xylk: That's what we should have, Life Designer #1 and then title is Creative Jehovah Witness.

Xylk: So for now in the future, I would say... more content. It's actually going to be streamlined. We're going to dabble into the podcast realm. We're going to dabble into a little bit of more content creation. We want to open it a little bit more for people to purchase the patches. You know, the patches program is something that we're working towards. So it's a subscription based program where at first, Life Designers will get a chance to subscribe for a fee per month and you get the patch stickers, bala bands and some exclusive content that we create. And you're welcome to join us there that way because the point is to build community first and it's funny because to build community you kind of have to be so specific on the who, and by doing that you're being exclusive, not inclusive. So you have to do that first before, you know, obviously everyone's welcome, but it's not for everyone. It's for a certain mindset. Especially with the clothes, too. It's not for everyone. It's going to be for a very specific person.

FeeF: If you get it, you get it.

Xylk: If you get it, you get it. It's either you love it or you hate it. That's life. And if you love it. You'd get it tatted.

Cyril: You have it tatted on the back of your head.

Xylk: My head. I had it on my hand too.

FeeF: I had it on my hand as well, got in on my elbow. The next place is a surprise.

Xylk: Anywhere that the logo is on, like on the clothes, we have it tatted.

Xylk: So, I put it on the right sleeves, and we both have it. I have it on the trucker hat, so that's why I have it on my head. We have it on the shoe. And then he has it on his foot. We have it on the knee; JJ has it on both knees.

FeeF: Oh, he has it on both knees?

Xylk: We have it on the chest and Darcie has it on his chest.

FeeF: Someone has it on their butt.

Cyril: Do you have a picture of that?

Xylk: Yeah, it's in the lookbook.

FeeF: It's in one of the lookbooks.

Xylk: I never find it.

FeeF: It's in the other one.

Xylk: Which one?

FeeF: The one with my my niece on the back.

FeeF: Yeah, someone has it on their ass.

Cyril: Well, that's the end of the interview.

FeeF: Oh, yeah that's a great way to end.

© 2024   underscore studios       @underscorestudios_