Slice of Life

Francine Denise shows us her de­signs and what lies at the heart of her work and life. Edith Emer­alda writes

Indonesia Tatler - - Faces -

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.

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