feature / alumni / graphic-design
October 25, 2015
Writer: Mike Winder
Photographer: Stella Kalinina


HQ:LA – Creatives calling L.A. home / Part 2 / The Tastemaker: Yo Santosa

For creative professionals, the allure of Los Angeles goes far beyond ‘You can’t beat the weather.’ In this series, we invite you to meet three thriving entrepreneurs who have made the City of Angels their headquarters.

Continuing from our first stop, we head three miles west in the Entertainment District to find another clash of sounds playing out, this one driven by jackhammers and a rumbling cement mixer.

The noise makes it hard to hear Graphic Design alumna Yo Santosa (BFA 00), founder and creative director of design firm Ferroconcrete, whose rebranding projects include helping turn Pinkberry into an international presence, creating motion graphics for TBS, and redesigning the logo for The Today Show.

Ferroconcrete has incubated several companies, including off-kilter perfume maker Commodity, whose mixable fragrances like “Whiskey” and “Book” are available in select Sephora stores nationwide, and Früute, an online cookie company selling sweet and sour concoctions like “Rum and Raisin Rochers” and “Muscovado Rainbow Crunch.”

As we cross 11th Street to visit Früute’s kitchen, run by her mother, Santosa points out that the Staples Center-adjacent LA Live entertainment complex, which includes the Nokia Theater and the 54-story J.W. Marriott Hotel, is just a short walk away.

“When I first moved downtown in 2004, I ended up at Main and Sixth, just a few blocks from Skid Row, which was a little intense,” says the Singapore-raised Santosa. “But now this is my home and I don’t think I’ll ever move.”

Downtown has changed dramatically for the better over the past decade, and Santosa is contributing to that change with her monthly publication LA Downtowner, a newspaper that offers an “insider’s view” of the culture and people reshaping downtown.

“We’ve had such great feedback, and people are trying to find out how to get involved,” says Santosa of the neighborhood reception of Downtowner.

As we reach our destination, Santosa tells us to wait outside as she enters the kitchen. She emerges a few minutes later with bad news.

“Sorry, but Mom is very protective of her creations and doesn’t want visitors in the kitchen,” she says. “The Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets wanted to do a story, and she told them ‘no’ too.”

She sighs, and adds with a smile, “That’s Mom.”