Most home owners in Jakarta who want to create a high-end space with a clean, contemporary aesthetic know just the right person to call: the hugely talented Yuni Jie. the highly acclaimed interior designer and author is known for her ability to transform any space into something chic and sophisticated, yet warm and inviting at the same time.
Perhaps what’s a little less known about Yuni is that she is also a furniture designer. through a collaboration with Vivere, a high-end home furniture retailer, Yuni has created two separate home furniture collections: Maha and raya. the latter was launched in August 2014. “Maha, my first collection in 2007, was really successful,” Yuni says. “that’s why they wanted to collaborate with me again, as an outside designer working within their company.”
when Vivere approached Yuni for a second furniture collaboration, she used her creative freedom to do something she has never done before. “this collection, raya, is inspired by the richness of Indonesian culture,” says the Pratt Institute, new York alumna with a Master’s Degree in Industrial Design. “I feel like for as long as I’ve been a designer, I haven’t really drawn on Indonesia for inspiration. But this is where I live. why not take inspiration from Indonesia, which is so plentiful in culture?”
After months of designing, what resulted is a casual yet elegant collection of contemporary furniture with just the right touch of traditional Indonesian charm. “the raya collection is made up of 33 pieces, from furniture like armoires to accessories like table runners,” says Yuni. “each piece was inspired by Indonesian culture. For example, I took my inspiration from a motif in batik Kawung, but I simplified it and made it a little geometrical. there was a book case inspired by ikat. I wanted to take the richness of Indonesian culture and steer it towards a more international look.”
with years of maturation between her first and second furniture collections, Yuni certainly benefitted from a new-found furniture savvy. “From the aesthetic, Maha is more masculine, heavier, thicker,” Yuni says of her first furniture collection. “raya is much more slim, sophisticated. I designed Maha in 2007, and my mind has certainly matured since then.
“For raya, I was braver with the materials I chose. As a designer, I want to protect the manufacturer. Furniture is actually really easy to replicate. to avoid people making copies of our furniture, I tried my best to make the manufacturing of a single product happen across three different locations. Vivere itself has its strength in wood, so all of the wood came from them. But the handle and other elements of the pieces were made by other manufacturers.”
Yuni discloses that working in interior design and furniture design has its differences. “when I design an interior, I typically do projects for high-end residences, which is very personal. the challenge in doing this furniture collection is it has to be universal. It has to be able to reach into almost everyone’s aesthetic. that’s one of the biggest challenges in terms of design. on top of that, you have to design something that is timeless. I don’t want to look at my design in five years and think that it looks dated. Another thing is designing something that is durable. so there are a lot of aspects to consider when designing something: universal, timeless, durable and another thing, which is very important, is it’s ergonomic. It’s very hard to design something that is very ergonomic, especially a chair.
“I really love the challenge though. I like that through interior design. I can work with clients to create something more personal. I also like that, with furniture design, I get to create something while being publicminded. one of my goals is to collaborate with international brands. so I’ve started with local brands here, but hopefully in the future I can do a furniture collection for the global market. I’d really love to bring Indonesian aesthetics to a more international market, but I’d want to do it in a way that takes the lines of Indonesian traditional design to be reinterpreted in a way that works with modern design - something more subtle. that way it has a more universal appeal.”
With her furniture designs, the acclaimed interior designer takes the richness of Indonesian culture and gives it an international look
PIECES FROM YUNI JIE’S RAYA COLLECTION. OPPOSITE PAGE: YUNI JIE POSES WITH A RAY CHAIR