College friends, Sukendro Sukendra and Jeffry Sandy, founded Nataneka despite uncertainties;
they share their story with Ria Iskandar
(This Page, left to right) Jeffry Sandy; Sukendro Sukendar
While studying architecture together at the University of Trisakti, Sukendro Sukendar and Jeffry Sandy, became best of friends. At the time, Sandy was Sukendar’s junior and he learned a lot from his partner. They started to work together on a numbers of small projects. They also frequently hanged out with their architect friends who joined the Indonesian young architects community called AMI. Their participation in the community has played an important role in their careers.
They graduated from college in the early 90’s, and Sukendar started his career as an architect at Para Maloka Consultants. Those years coincided with the monetary crisis in Indonesia. It was a tough time for everybody, including the local architects. Many architecture firms closed down during those dark days in our history. In midst of the struggle, Sukendar and Sandy did not loose their hope. They loved architecture and they were architects, nothing could change that.
In 1999, they decided to build a design company together after they won the first place for the mosque design competition that was held by their university. Nataneka has won a list of prestigious awards, such as the first place winner of the IAI Awards in 2006, 2009 and 2011 for the compact or smart design category.
Discover how their different ways of thinking became their strength in this interview with the two founding fathers of Nataneka Architect.
Indonesia Tatler Homes (ITH): What is the meaning of Nataneka, it sounds very Japanese?
Sukendro Sukendar (SS): To the contrary it is actually very Javanese. It is an adaptation from Javanese language. ‘Nata’ meaning to arrange or decorate and ‘Neka’ meaning a lot of variations. Jeffry Sandy (JS): We also like the fact that its sounds Japanese. Since we are big fans of Japanese design, especially their architecture. They always think out of the box. They are able to transform simplicity into great design.
ITH: Most people say that Japan already has everything, since they are categorized as a developed country. They seem to have the time to pay attention to details. How do you feel?
SS: Well if we have a look around us, it is not only happening in Japan. These days there are many Indonesian designers that also give a lot of attention to details. The same thing for us as architects, we always try not only to think big, but also to pay more attention to the details. For example we can argue for days about the small details of our residential designs.
ITH: How would you describe Nataneka’s style in four words between the two of you?
JS: Smart, natural SS: Thin, floating
ITH: How did you unite your idealism as architects?
SS: Our personalities are totally different. Sandy is a more silent, well-organized kind of person. I am the opposite. JS: Maybe that is why we completed each other
ITH: Do you partake in other activities that do not involve architecture?
JS: Yes, in several activities SS: We each have our own group of friends outside of the realm of architecture. For example, Jeffry has his own cycling community that he enjoys meeting.
ITH: Tell us about an unforgettable moment while working together.
SS: Maybe when we finally opened our own office in Kuningan, after many years of being nomadic. (laugh) JS: It felt like we having your own home. We bought the office in 2010 and in 2011 we moved in.
ITH: Which project gave you most satisfaction?
JS: Just like every architect, I would say that every project is my favourite. Each one has its different challenges and triumphs, a different story that makes them all special to us. SS: As an architect, it does not mean that we should be an inventor all the time, yet we should try to make a better version of our previous designs. Until we reach perfection.
ITH: What is your dream project?
SS: We came close to working on dream projects a couple times. One of them was in West Sulawesi. We always dreamt of working on a project with a challenging landscape, such as the edge of the cliff. There has been a few offers, but none has materialized yet. JS: We travel a lot and have seen a lot of projects like that. We’re really hoping to work on a magnificent project like that someday.
ITH: Has it always been your dream to become an architect?
SS: I always won the drawing competitions when I was in school. In fact, there is no one in my family that has an architecture background. At first, I really loved sketching and playing lego. Then I decided to study architecture in college and graduated as the best student in my class. JS: Just like Sukendar drawing was a hobby. I remember that I was always very excited when my parents took me to the construction site of our house. My uncle, a contractor, would also take me with him to his projects ever so often. Those moments always made me excited. I then decided to play make believe and started building in our street using my toy cars and cement!
ITH: If you were not an architect, what would you be?
SS: I would be a watchmaker or a furniture designer, still in the creative industry for sure. JS: Maybe I would have become a tennis player. When I was a kid I had a dream to be a tennis player. I almost joined the Bollettieri Tennis program in Singapore when I was a teenager. But I did not make it since I was not able to attend the final game, because of personal matters.
(This Page, clockwise from top) One of the office design by Nataneka; The hotel’s architecture located in Bandung; A residential project in Intercon area
(Opposite Page, left to right) One of the outdoor area of a residential located in Kedoya; The design for villa units in Bali