By Pola Esguerra del Monte, Multimedia Editor
FROM MERE slacker uniform, skateboard attire has seeped into the runways of the world’s fashion capitals.
For trans-disciplinary designer Sean Bautista, the skateboard culture is more than just a fashion thing: it is also a vehicle to purvey chicken.
The Comme des Garçons-wearing Ateneo graduate who looks up to David Chang took workshops in design management at Parsons School of Design in New York City before building two original concepts: Tetsuo, an East-Asian casual dining restaurant, and Transit, a retail design concept.
“I’m a fine arts student,” he insists when asked if he ever considered taking a business course. Tetsuo, after all, began as a chicken stall at Ateneo competing for space in the cafeteria. In a week, they met their ROI. After that, they began selling merchandise (imagine, a chicken stall with its own merch), before branching out to events.
“Organically” is how he describes the ideation process. “I and a few friends came together,” he recounted. “I mean we just hung out, we were into skateboarding, music, hiphop… but then we also liked cooking.”
“So from that idea and just trying to be authentic to ourselves, we’ve created a brand that suits or embodies what we thought. Like, embodies our relationship as friends. It starts with the chicken concept because, yeah, we wanted to create something that was palatable to our audience and that everyone would enjoy, but then we tried to elevate the concept and create a bigger personality around it by injecting things that were authentic to us,” he said. “To simplify that idea, we just came from a unique standpoint of dudes just hanging out, cooking together, and being interested in different facets of subculture, and then translating that into a product.”
From its formerly five-square-meter space inside Ateneo, it has expanded into a 50-square-meter restaurant along Katipunan, housing 31 seats. And it is, in fact, things like the playlist, typography, and visuals, among others, that formulate the overall brand.
“I’m able to connect to other people in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was just thinking about the business,” he says. “If I was only thinking about business goals, I don’t think Tetsuo as a product would translate in the way it does.”