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The one thing the local design industry is always on the look out for is a new trend by a newcomer. Someone offering something fresh that has never been done before, a new colour, a different approach in terms of interior design - and finally here it is: Francine Denise and Mudita Lestari are the main players behind a young interior design consultancy named Francine Lestari, based in Jakarta. Although being high school friends, they only found out that they shared the same passion and vision years later while working together at the same company. This mutual interest has changed their life and career path ever since. Founded in 2011, Francine Lestari applies a different approach on each of their projects to be in touch with the physical and emotional expectation of their clients. While remaining true to their philosophy they also make a bold statement with a few hidden surprises, and manage to leave their own distinct mark on each project.
“I don’t remember us being that close in high school,” says Denise while laughing and joking with her partner, Lestari. Without consciously planning it, both of them decided to study the same subject in college, which was interior design. Denise finished her studies at Nottingham Tren University, England - Mudita completed hers at Swinbourne Universty, Australia.
It wasn’t until they finally returned to Indonesia in 2009, and ended up working at the same company, that they realized it was kismet. Sharing with Indonesia Tatler Homes the story behind their first restaurant project, named Convivium sited in South Jakarta, the two design divas recalls how their similar tastes and work ethics became a flourishing business.
Their contrasting personalities surprisingly become the strength of their design firm, Francine Lestari share their journey with Ria Iskandar
Indonesia Tatler Homes (ITH): Tell us about the moment when both of you decided to became interior designers.
Francine Denise (FD): When I was a teenager, I always loved to flip through design magazine. And the interior section was always appealing to me. At the beginning, I was confused whether or not to choose between graphic design or interior design. I soon realized that my passion lies in residential design. I still get all hyped up every time I’m working on a residential project. Mudita Lestari (ML): It was because my science score in school was not that good (laugh). Actually the more I learn about the interior design industry, the more I’m in love with this job. I started my internship when I was still in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I then decided to come back to Jakarta and was working at Jeffry Budiman consultant with Denise. It was then that I realized that I really love to customize things.
ITH: Most designers want to use their own name to represent their own design, why did you decide to build a company baring both of your names?
ML: In the beginning when we met in high school, we were not that close. It was only after we worked at the same design consultancy that we discovered we had the same taste and work ethic, especially while we worked together on the Convivium restaurant project. So, in 2011, we finally decided to start our own company together and named it after both of us; Francine Lestari.
ITH: How would you describe your business partner?
FD: Clumsy, very technical, but good on communicating. ML: Well she is actually the opposite of me. She is super neat and a more social person than me. I would say we are like the yin & yang in Chinese philosophy.
ITH: What has been the most memorable moment of your union?
FD: A couple of months ago while we attended the launching of a new series of furniture in one of the interior showrooms in Kemang. We actually collaborate with the brand to design the new series. The launching event has been the most memorable moment thus far for both of us.
ITH: How would you define your ‘collaboration’?
ML: We are balancing each other out. What really matters is the process of understanding that helps us to complete each other FD: Collaboration is vital, since every aspect our lives depend on some from collaboration, with various people. But usually it is very difficult to collaborate with a person that has the same profession as you (laugh)
ITH: How do you describe Francine Lestari style?
FD: Timeless ML: Semi-modern
ITH: Whom do you dream to collaborate with?
FD & ML: Kelly Wrestler! (simultaneously)
ITH: What do you imagine yourself doing right now if you were not interior designers?
ML: Maybe I would still be working as a part time waitress in a restaurant FD: I would have started an online shop and would have had many babies by now! (both laugh)
(This Page, left to right) Francine Denise, Mudita Lestari
(Opposite Page, clockwise) Dominated with natural materials, the project reflects timeless yet semi-modern scenery; The apartment project by Francine Lestari feature the master bedroom area; The living room and dining area designed without any partition create a wide impression; The dining area with its natural ambience