Who is Llyan Oliver Austria, and why you shouldーor shouldn’tーlisten to him

Published August 18, 2020, 7:10 AM

by Johannes Chua

Hi Llyan, here’s a content suggestion: Pinoy Architect reacts to this Manila Bulletin article. Game? 

Llyan, or Llyan Oliver Austria, is known as the “Pinoy Architect” on YouTube. He is not new in the “vid reaction” scene, as his videos have populated his channel in the past few years. But it was only recently, or what we call a “product of the pandemic” like ube pandesal or sushi bake, that Llyan’s YouTube channel garnered almost 25 million views, thrusting him to the forefront of the country’s top online content creators.

Now, what he is doing is not something new as there are a lot of reaction contents about homes, interior design, and even furniture. But for him to amass that kind of numbers at such a short time, and to bring architecture to a wider (and younger) audience, it is―and to use a favorite word in architecture―groundbreaking. 

PINOY ARCHITECT Llyan Austria is trending online with his reaction videos on celebrity homes

I first heard of Llyan about a month ago, when a friend forwarded me a link to a reaction video he did on the house of Buknoy Glamurr. I brushed it aside at first, thinking it was just one of those videos about people reacting to other people eating, dancing, singing, or doing random things. Then came another reaction video, this time on the house of Lloyd Cadena, another YouTube personality. This time, I noticed the videos, as the views constantly increased by the hour, peaking at almost 5.4 million views. 

CONSTRUCTION INSIGHTS Pinoy Architect reacts to the skypod of Kryz Uy and Slater Young (All clips from YouTube videos of Llyan Austria)

Full disclosure, I assigned a writer to do a feature on Llyan. This was probably during that time when he got more than a million views for his reaction video on the “skypod” of Kryz Uy and Slater Young. Then after I watched his reaction videos on the houses of online celeb couple JaMill and actress Ivana Alawi, I tried to reach out to Llyan. But maybe, my request for an interview was probably buried in thousands of messages to him, mostly content suggestions from netizens asking him to do reaction videos on the houses of this-and-that celebrity.  

DESIGN TALK Llyan notes the wood accents for the rustic feeling of JaMill’s house
STAIRS STARE Reacting to the viral stairs at Lloyd Cadena’s house, which garnered five million views

I would like to ask him several questions, even give him the chance to address some rumors circulating online that he is a wannabe-architect. This, however, can easily be debunked as he ranked fifth in the 2016 Architect Licensure exam with a grade of 81.5 percent. He is also the only student from Saint Louis University in Baguio to enter the top 10 that year. For more info on him, he even has uploaded a video about his architecture portfolio.

I would also like to ask him how he found his “voice”―that barkada tone, which is sometimes jokey, yet is the one who would give you the best sound advice. What’s also commendable is the way Llyan (or maybe his video team) has pushed the boundaries of creativity, using graphics, effects, and visual cues to produce sleek and polished videos. This is the future, I said, and I’m imagining him to be endorsing some home products and brands soon.      

SPEAK EASY Explaining visually the room partitions of Ivana Alawi’s house

Now, here’s the “beef.” Writing about real estate and homes for years allowed me to be in constant communication with established architects and interior designs. During one of my online interviews with a veteran architect, the conversation veered toward Llyan. This veteran architect has some juicy things (or in showbiz parlance, pasabog) to say. He explained how these kinds of videos are “watering down” all the work behind architecture, that architecture is “more than that,” that years of TV guestings and media mileage didn’t get them that kind of audience, blah blah.  

I suddenly smell a perfume called Envy. 

“Can I use your statement for an article? I asked. 

“No! It’s off the record!” He was vehement, even asking me to promise him not to tell anyone (sorry!). He feared the online backlash. He, a veteran of the industry, is afraid of the repercussions of criticizing architecture’s newest “(online) boy wonder.” 

After the conversation, I reviewed the videos of Llyan and added to its views. One thing that the veteran architect didn’t realize is how Llyan respected the works of other architects. That veteran architect, I presume, was accustomed with architecture’s “formality” (with some of them even hiring PR practitioners to enhance their public image), that a person like Llyan can suddenly burst into the scene and create a clout―and influence―that they can only dream of. In short, they are “shookt” to their core! 

This is not surprising. The world of architecture, for many years, is like fine dining. And Llyan barges in, bringing his brand of fastfood comfort. Now, tell me honestly, who doesn’t love those greasy burgers and fries?

They think what Llyan is doing is easy. But it is not. One may have the knowledge, the experience, the pedigree, and the international degrees, but only Llyan can connect, explain, and even draw that way to his audience. And that audience has rewarded him well, with stratospheric views one can only aspire for. Llyan has that accessible vibe Pinoys love, even his quips and side comments are what you hear during an inuman with your best buds. 

FAMILY LIVING Llyan reacting to the house of Team Kramer

Should you listen to him? Of course, yes. You can learn a lot of things and be entertained at the same time. But should you just listen to him for issues about your own house, or when you are about to build one? Of course not. He has advised that you better hire your own architect or interior designer. I’m sure he is as busy as ever as there is now the pressure with so many homes to review, videos to edit and upload, and online fans to entertain.