Indonesian nature, culture and people are at the heart of the design mission of Project Khatulistiwa, a collective that aims to capture the archipelago’s diverse character in terms of home and living products. With an ambitious mission to bring to life their perceptions of Indonesia, this is a three-person project: independent product designer denny r. Priyatna, eugenio Hendro of nook Living and nadia Pramudita, whose General object is a home décor brand that produces items suitable for compact spaces. the results of their endeavours are relatable design products that bring to mind familiar Indonesian phenomena.
Priyatna was inspired by the orangutans when he created his rattan chair Pono. “Few of them are left,” he points out. “It is a reminder for people to protect our furry friend.” With local culture in mind, Hendro designed the Kandang brass candle holder collection, in which the pieces take the form of bird cages. Kandang’s unique form makes it a good conversation starter at the dining table, just the perfect timing to reveal its equally unique back story. eugenio picks birds as his main inspiration because they symbolise luck and prosperity in the asian culture. alas, the vertical lifestyle that urbanites lead results in the absence of birds as pets in modern homes. the candle holder, as eugenio envisions it, is meant to be a decorative piece that serves as a cultural statement at the same time.
“For me, defining Indonesian culture starts with knowing your own ethnicity. If you know yourself well, it is much easier to know your brothers and sisters,” Hendro, who is of Javanese and Manadonese descent, reasons. this philosophy has led him to explore traditional Javanese techniques of weaving, burning, hammering and colouring through the furniture collections he has focused on since 2010.
one of the things nadia admires most about Indonesians is their collective love of gathering, or “kongkow”, sessions. Hence, the solo Kongkow set is a tea set made of striped teak. “the idea is for people to feel a sense of togetherness in times when work and present day challenges get in the way of family reunions,” nadia explains. “sometimes designers focus only on commercial projects and we forget the very reason why we started designing. Project Khatulistiwa is the platform for us to be practical designers who create things that make everyday life easier.”
the three designers believe that good design is about simplicity. says their mission statement: “Good design has to be invisible, yet impactful. It must be seamless and integrated into everyday setting. Most importantly, design should affect the society, both socially and economically.”
their grassroots approach to design has taken Project Khatulistiwa outside of its homeland. the collective was invited to participate in the asia
Project Khatulistiwa specialises in creating relatable design products that bring to mind familiar Indonesian phenomena
talents exhibition in Bangkok, thailand in 2014. “We met and talked to designers from across the asia Pacific,” says nadia. “We shared our stories and values about Indonesia design, and listened to their points of views on design. We also learned about how design works in different countries. It was truly an eye-opening experience that set our benchmark even higher than before.”
a month later, Project Khatulistiwa launched its debut collection, showcasing it at a weekend exhibition at dia.lo.gue, a contemporary art space in Kemang. the products are available online at Bobobobo, a lifestyle e-commerce site. Project Khatulistiwa’s rather mass approach to its products reflects an inclusive spirit. It is the spirit they aim to bring to the next step they are taking for the initiative, and of course, for Indonesia.
“We are trying to be honest, and get to know more about our roots while learning and preserving Indonesian culture. It is the best we can do as citizens of the world,” says nadia. “any designer who shares the same vision is more than welcome to join us. the three of us each have different ideas on design, three different markets to appeal to and three different ways of doing things. But we share the same vision, and that’s how we make Project Khatulistiwa work.”
KANDANG CANDLE HOLDER; OPPOSITE PAGE: NADIA PRAMUDITA, EUGENIO HENDRO AND DENNY R. PRIYATNA; PONO CHAIR