Santai Furniture Layered with tradition

07, Oct 2015 | Author: Embassy of Indonesia

Source  :  Jakarta Post

The simple traditional lifestyle of Java caught the attention of German native Dennis Pluemer. Having a fascination with Southeast Asian culture, Pluemer, 31, visited Indonesia and was subsequently enthralled by the country’s rich heritage during his time in Java.

After working on a regional economic development project, he wanted to branch out to other sectors, so he chose to focus on furniture. After seeing that not many Indonesia-based furniture companies embodied the Javanese heritage he had grown to love, he decided to create his own collection with a mix of contemporary and traditional designs enriched with local craftsmanship.

“Upon returning to Germany, I was missing Java and I didn’t bring anything that reminded me of all that [culture and beauty], and I feared that these styles and elements would be lost so I wanted to undertake my own project to show what is possible,” said Pluemer.

As a result, he traveled for months around Java to assemble a team of established local designers. “I’m not a designer myself, and I don’t understand the culture and the possibilities as deeply as the locals, so it occurred to me that I needed to build a team of Javanese designers.”

So, along with award-winning designers like Singgih S. Kartono and Eko Prawoto, alongside Bagus Prabowo, Ruby Sofyan and Dyah Soemarno, Pluemer successfully developed a collection of modern contemporary furniture pieces enriched with the culture and heritage of Java.

The people behind the brand Santai, an Indonesian word for “relax”, insist they create Javanese furniture instead of Indonesian because they find it difficult to combine the cultures into one collection.

The legends: Renowned product designer Singgih S. Kartono (left) and renowned architect Andra Matin attend the “Talk” event held by Santai Furniture.(Courtesy of Dennis Pluemer)

Pluemer explained that, “There are many rich cultures and forms of heritage in Indonesia, you can’t really put them under one design umbrella, so we mainly focus on making Javanese, instead of Indonesian, furniture.”

He said that if they were to create new designs from a different Indonesian culture, it would not be under the Santai brand, it would have to have a separate marketing and branding campaign.

The team first launched its brand in January in Cologne, Germany. Since then, it has received multiple invitations from various established events like the Indonesian International Furniture Expo and a future exhibition at the National Gallery of Singapore. It has also had a chance to work with established Indonesian architects such as Andra Matin.

Santai Furniture has also entered international markets including the US, the UK and the United Arab Emirates.

Its success on international markets opened a window for it to finally launch the brand in its home country by holding its first solo exhibition in Jakarta.

Held at Dia.Lo.Gue artspace in Kemang, the exhibition displayed the full collection of the young furniture brand. The cozy ambience of the space profoundly complemented the relaxed and cozy feeling that embodied the collection itself. From Aug. 5 to 16, the public was able to get a glimpse of Santai Furniture’s pieces including the famous meeting chair set and the “Hono” wardrobe that contained hidden messages like “ojo dumeh” (don’t be arrogant) and “jalan-jalan” (explore).

The exhibition featured two main events that were held on Aug. 8 and 9. The first one was the “Talk” event where founder Pluemer, alongside designers Singgih, Eko and Bagus explained their vision for their brand and how it has become the success that it is today. In an event that was attended by architects, interior designers and product designers, they also clarified details such as the challenges they faced while working with certain materials like bamboo and rattan.

In particular, they expressed the importance of bamboo in creating their products, which was described by Eko as, “Bamboo is us, and we are bamboo.” The use of bamboo focuses on the authenticity and simplicity of basic traditional homes, with the majority of these homes made out of pure bamboo.

The second event was held in a more relaxed setting compared to the previous event, where Pluemer and the three designers held a workshop open to the public to demonstrate the art of weaving with simple materials such as kreneng(sliced bamboo) and janur (young coconut leaf).

The creation of Santai Furniture has now altered the image of Indonesian-made furniture. Since it is also a German brand, many expected the collection would be produced in Germany, only to find out the opposite. When asked about international responses, Pluemer says: “In fairs, they are surprised to know that the furniture is produced in Indonesia because they hadn’t realized that Indonesia has reached such a high level of quality in local craftsmanship.”

In this venture, the designers of Santai Furniture have offered architects, designers, visitors and potential buyers alike a collection of contemporary styled furniture imbued with a deep layer of knowledge and respect for the heritage and rich traditions of Javanese culture.

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