ALVIN TJITROWIRJO

An In­done­sian iden­tity

Prestige Indonesia - Lifestyle - - CONTENTS -

Rat­tan, a plant that grows in abun­dance in In­done­sia, is of­ten seen as a cheap and sea­sonal ma­te­rial. How­ever, In­done­sian-born prod­uct de­signer Alvin Tjitrowirjo, founder of de­sign firm Alvin-t Studio and fur­ni­ture brand Alvin-t, sees it as an un­der­val­ued ma­te­rial that is worth a fiveyear pro­mo­tional cam­paign.

“We con­tin­u­ously rein­ter­pret the In­done­sian iden­tity through a con­tem­po­rary ap­proach,” he says of his firm’s mis­sion. “Part of our lat­est five-year cam­paign is to pro­mote rat­tan as a beau­ti­ful but un­der-val­ued ma­te­rial. In 2015, we’re ex­plor­ing the ma­te­rial’s po­ten­tial and work­ing on de­sign ideas to make pieces that are more prac­ti­cal and do­mes­tic com­pared to our pre­vi­ous col­lec­tions, which could be seen more as stand­alone sculp­tural pieces.”

Tjitrowirjo is a grad­u­ate of RMIT Univer­sity in Aus­tralia who has al­ways had a pen­chant for art and de­sign. Upon grad­u­at­ing, he joined the Mel­bourne Move­ment, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that pro­motes young Aus­tralian de­sign­ers. It was dur­ing this pe­riod that his Bell Chair was se­lected and ex­hib­ited at Salone Satel­lite in Mi­lan in 2005. Af­ter re­turn­ing to In­done­sia in 2006, Tjitrowirjo caused a buzz by stag­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions with lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional brands, as well as lead­ing In­done­sian de­sign fig­ures. He then con­tin­ued his stud­ies at the IED In­sti­tuto Eu­ropeo di De­sign in Madrid, Spain, gain­ing a Mas­ter’s de­gree in Prod­uct De­sign. Soon af­ter his time in Europe, which in­cluded a stint with the cel­e­brated Dutch de­signer Mar­cel Wan­ders in Am­s­ter­dam, Tjitrowirjo set up Alvin-t in Jakarta. In 2010 and 2011, with sup­port from the In­done­sian Min­istry of Trade, his de­signs were ex­hib­ited at Har­rods in Lon­don.

Look­ing back on 2014, Tjitrowirjo says: “In­ter­na­tion­ally, we’ve had a great year with a suc­cess­ful ex­hi­bi­tion in Bangkok.” His Linger Bench was se­lected to be­come part of the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of the Dong­dae­mun De­sign Plaza in Seoul, Korea, along with works by de­sign le­gends such as Philippe Starck, Ron Arad and Al­var Aalto. “Apart from that, our de­sign firm started work­ing on the in­te­ri­ors of a ho­tel in Bali and a num­ber of ex­cit­ing F&B out­let in­te­ri­ors for Is­maya Group, such as Mag­num Cafe in Pon­dok In­dah Mall 2 and Co­lette Lola cake shop in Mall Ke­lapa Gad­ing,” says the de­signer. Be­sides Alvin-t’s cap­sule col­lec­tion of home wares and table­ware, Alvin-t has three prod­uct lines: Alvin-t Edi­tions, which fea­tures pre­mium hand-made fur­ni­ture; Alvin-t, which con­veys a con­tem­po­rary at­ti­tude to­wards prac­ti­cal do­mes­tic fur­nish­ing, or­ganic sil­hou­ettes and neu­tral tones; and Every­day by Alvin-t, a col­lec­tion of sim­ple and prac­ti­cal de­signs. Alvin-t’s 2014/2015 col­lec­tion is in­spired by In­done­sia’s trop­i­cal am­bi­ence and a cool Nordic out­look on de­sign.

It’s ironic that Tjitrowirjo, who has distin­guished him­self by re­main­ing truth­ful to his In­done­sian her­itage, is more pop­u­lar over­seas than he is at home. “We are some­how more ap­pre­ci­ated over­seas than lo­cally,” he notes. “I would like to see wider ac­cep­tance and higher ap­pre­ci­a­tion for our prod­ucts in the lo­cal mar­ket. We opened a show­room in Ke­bay­oran Baru in 2014, and we want to start show­cas­ing new prod­ucts as well as some ex­cit­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions that will hope­fully feed the de­sign-hun­gry mar­ket seg­ment here. We are ex­pand­ing our brand cov­er­age through sev­eral depart­ment stores lo­cally, as well as po­ten­tially open­ing an out­let in Bali.”

Tjitrowirjo’s choices of ma­te­ri­als and his in­volve­ment in the preser­va­tion of the lo­cal her­itage re­flect his love and re­spect for the In­done­sian tra­di­tion. Be­yond that, his breadth of work shows that “de­sign is more than mere or­na­men­ta­tion - that it can be an in­te­gral, in­ter­ac­tive part of peo­ple’s lives.” Plac­ing a strong em­pha­sis on creat­ing a dis­tinct brand of de­sign that draws from the coun­try’s cen­turies-old love of art and by em­ploy­ing In­done­sian ar­ti­sans and crafts­men, the de­signer has con­tin­ued to spread his in­flu­ence across the lo­cal de­sign scene.

“As a brand we have had a healthy, steady growth rate, as there’s a grow­ing mar­ket that’s start­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate the value of own­ing lo­cally made de­signer fur­ni­ture,” says the de­signer. “This gives me faith to­wards what I do.

Tjitrowirjo’s choices of ma­te­ri­als and his in­volve­ment in pre­serv­ing the lo­cal her­itage re­flect his love of In­done­sian tra­di­tion

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