Slice of Life
Francine Denise shows us her designs and what lies at the heart of her work and life. Edith Emeralda writes
One late morning with grey skies surrounding the rooftop of ¿Por Qué No? restaurant, Indonesia Tatler sat down with its interior designer, Francine Denise Tjoitang, and took a tour as servers prepped for the day. Outside were clusters of dining areas and a bar surrounding a wooden stage, while inside were red and blue chairs around custom wood-topped tables. Lovely little touches were added, with pencils filling glass containers in stubby sizes alongside Lego blocks to hold placards on each table—all showing her exacting eye for details.
“The colouring pencils here are all defective pieces I have gathered,” she said upon our enquiry about another lead-based, floorto-ceiling 3D installation up front bearing the restaurant’s name in vivid yellow. The centrepiece, however, was rows of pencils set upon a grey wall that undulated in a dancing mosaic along a length of the long room—the opposite wall was a bank of ceiling-high windows. The other half of the wall, where a bar faced an open kitchen, was lined with pencils in a marching mosaic that, perhaps, once came in her nightly dreams of animals and shapes.
Despite the string of restaurants, offices, and other commercial spaces she has designed, Francine prefers to design residences, be they a small vertical living unit or a large detached house. “The timeline is one reason,” Francine said with a laugh. “But the main reason is that it makes me happy to design residences where people will feel like home and spend quality time together.” Her style thus gravitates toward creating that homely ambience with fluidity and functionality at the core with an overall understated glamour. A fine example is the residence in the prestigious Mutiara Kedoya area that rests cool, monochromatic shades of white, beige and grey on textural and oftentimes colourful rugs.
Francine further emboldened the interior by an intermarriage of abstract arts and sculptural pieces with classical Indonesian paintings and some Chinese furniture. On the other side of the spectrum is the bold Pakubuwono View Apartment she clothed in a dark grey interior and decked out in automated lighting, blinds, and air-conditioning systems. She also renovated and designed the three-bedroom unit completely from its ceiling with natural grey-dyed rattan to the floor’s high-quality marble. Such expressions of herself through art are nothing new to Francine who, since she was a little girl, has loved to describe how a place feels.
“I would tell my mum when we arrived at a new place whether it made me feel happy, gave me the creeps, or anything else,” she said. From then on, Francine developed an interest in interior designing and studied it along with landscaping. Family truly lies close to Francine’s heart with her ama and akong, or
“Both of them are great mentors who guide and teach me that this field is so much more than just designing interiors, but is also about how you interact with people.”
grandmother and grandfather, respectively, gluing the extensive family together. “The Pakubowono is the most memorable project for me, a breakthrough moment, really, because it was the first time I worked solo,” Francine said. “All the design and decoration truly feels like mine, and my ama also gave a great idea to incorporate Indonesian touches in the apartment— kecombrang flowers as a centrepiece, for example.”
Her mum and akong have also been role models, especially during her college days, while her paternal cousins are with Francine in the Kowara Eatery Group—counting a fourth eatery in the pipeline following Convivium in 2013, ¿Por Qué No? in 2015, and The Rosemary in 2017. Today, the family-like ties of aunties and uncles extend to senior designers such as Siulina Mega and Jasin Tedjasukmana.
“Both of them are great mentors who guide and teach me that this field is so much more than just designing interiors, but is also about how you interact with people,” Francine said. Although she listens and caters to a client’s needs and wants, honesty and trust are key traits in her relationships with clients to make them happy, which, at the end of the day, give her joy in all she does.