An UNLIKELY MARRIAGE
Diaz Adisastomo HAD never found the idea of taking part in competitions appealing, but he entered his Common armchair in Singapore’s 2013 Furniture Design Awards programme anyway. To his surprise, his piece received an honourable mention from the judges. “My entry was part of my final project for university,” says 28-year-old Adisastomo. “To gain such recognition was a great boost for me as an aspiring designer. All in all, it was a very rewarding experience.”
For his chair, Adisastomo came up with an unlikely combination of materials: rattan and aluminium. “In spite of their differences, they share many similarities,” he says. “Hence the name of the chair. Both are bendable and easy to be linked. It’s actually a very simple design, just a seat with a backrest. What I wanted to expose through my design was the unusual marriage of these two components.
“During my internship at a manufacturer in Cirebon, West Java, I was most drawn by the extensive use of tubular metal and rattan pole as a constructive material. Apart from their origin, they both share similar properties; lightness,
flexibility, strength. There was something intriguing about their mutual relationship that soon led to the idea of creating logical yet poetic structures, which became the Common chair.
“The chair is conceived as a simple metal construction that formally refers to the typology of dining chairs. A single rattan pole mounted upon the curved metal frame is the key characteristic of the chair. Even though it is only a small part of the chair, the rattan pole plays an important role as a bridge that strengthens the structure as well as providing back support and warmth.”
Adisastomo did not discover his interest in industrial design until he went to college. “Back then, I didn’t even know the concept of design,” he admits. “I had always liked to draw, but I never associated it with anything. I was introduced to it after high school and it made me wonder that there’s actually a world out there that’s dedicated to designing and producing ideas. It all began there.”
He studied Product Design at Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). During his internship, he explored furniture production processes in depth. “The term product designer is broad,” he says. “You could be creating flipflops or automobiles, and still be called a product designer. Choosing to focus on furniture just came naturally to me.”
Adisastomo has been strongly influenced by the work of the Japanese, notably Naoto Fukasawa, an industrial designer whose works include a wall-mounted CD player that is part of the permanent collection at The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. “His designs are mature, never trying to stand out, yet meaningful and timeless,” says Adisastomo. “These are the elements I look for when designing a product.”
From 2013 to last year, Adisastomo worked as a junior designer at furniture company Karsa under the leadership of Joshua Simandjuntak, one of Indonesia’s most renowned product designers. “I learned a lot from him about how he turns his ideas into designs that work,” says Adisastomo of his mentor.
“His credentials are top-notch and he is probably one of the best designers we have right now. Yet he is still very humble. I aspire to be him like in the future.” Adisastomo was involved in the production process when Karsa’s Simandjuntakdesigned Rakata Chair took a Design for Asia Award from Hong Kong Design Centre in 2014.
The next step in Adisastomo’s career is creating his own design studio, Grrrad, in partnership with two friends from his college days: Genta Prakesa and Reza Anwar. “They had first discussed creating a platform for furniture designers and then they asked me to join them. I’ve always dreamed of having my own studio and this opportunity was perfect timing,” says Adisostomo.
Grrrad is partnering with Garisprada, a hotel architecture and interior consultant whose latest projects include Plataran Borobudur and The Menjangan in Bali. The studio has designed barstools for the Langit Menorah Bar & Lounge at Plataran Borobudur.
Meanwhile, the three friends are in the middle of creating their own furniture collection for Grrrad. “The three of us are drawing from our own experiences and observations to create the collection,” says Adisastomo. “I can’t wait to complete this collection and see where it takes us.”
“You could be creating flipflops or automobiles, and still be called a product designer. Choosing to focus on furniture just came naturally to me”
clockwise from left: THE COMMON ARMCHAIR; DIAZ ADISASTOMO