Learn­ing by Do­ing

Indonesia Tatler Homes - - HOMES FOCUS -

As the cre­ative di­rec­tor and founder of pre­mium fur­ni­ture brand Arbor & Troy, Meilinda Su­tanto be­lieves that great de­sign should not only re­flect lux­ury, but also the iden­tity of the user

home to In­done­sia. There were many op­por­tu­ni­ties in de­sign in New York, but I wanted to live in In­done­sia—for me, In­done­sia is the land of op­por­tu­nity, and in terms of de­sign, I’m learn­ing by do­ing ev­ery­thing.

ITH: Tell us about the be­gin­ning of Arbor & Troy.


While work­ing on my first town­house project, it was chal­leng­ing to re­alise the Amer­i­can mod­ern con­cept I was af­ter. I couldn’t find what I wanted in Jakarta un­til my friend in­tro­duced me to some lo­cal fur­ni­ture crafts­men. So most of the fur­ni­ture in the town­house was cus­tomised. Then many clients who vis­ited the town­house asked about the fur­ni­ture and whether or not it was for sale. They also asked where the show­room was lo­cated. Arbor & Troy was born from that cu­rios­ity in the lo­cal mar­ket.

ITH: How would you de­scribe Arbor & Troy’s phi­los­o­phy?


Time­less clas­sic. Arbor & Troy ac­tu­ally started as a fur­ni­ture rental busi­ness for for­eign­ers who were stay­ing in In­done­sia on a tem­po­rary ba­sis for busi­ness. But in the end, we were an­swer­ing a de­mand from the lo­cal mar­ket to build the re­tail part of the op­er­a­tion.

From the out­set, I wanted to speak hon­estly to our cus­tomers and ex­plain that Arbor & Troy is a lo­cal brand. Sur­pris­ingly, the re­sponse has been good—most of our clients are also proud of that such good-qual­ity prod­ucts are lo­cally made. So I re­alised that we did the right thing by be­ing hon­est.

ITH: What is the ac­tual mean­ing of ‘Arbor & Troy’?


Me and the three other co-founders of Arbor & Troy were friends at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan. The univer­sity was lo­cated in the city of Ann Arbor and Troy is the city we al­ways vis­ited at week­ends. So Arbor & Troy means work and play.

ITH: As a lo­cal interiors brand that has mostly adopted an Amer­i­can mod­ern style, has In­done­sian her­itage con­trib­uted to the de­signs?


De­sign is all about knowl­edge with a hint of trend­set­ting. We al­ways re­mem­ber our roots, where we came from, and we only work with lo­cal crafts­men. They have a lot of po­ten­tial and we only give them di­rec­tion.

ITH: From where do you usu­ally got your in­spi­ra­tion?


In­spi­ra­tion never hits me when I try to push it—it al­ways comes ac­ci­den­tally. When trav­el­ing, for ex­am­ple, maybe I see a unique pat­tern on a shirt. It’s every­where. Good de­sign re­flects the per­son who has used it or lived in it.

ITH: What has been your most chal­leng­ing project so far?


I would like to say the “most re­ward­ing” project in­stead of chal­leng­ing. That would mean the three town­house units that have adapted the rich­ness of the Amer­i­can style with­out los­ing the time­less feel of Arbor & Troy. For those huge projects, I was in­spired by classy Ralph Lau­ren, mas­cu­line New York City and the fem­i­nine yet clean lines of Martha Ste­wart.

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