“When designing A product, it should solve a problem. If it doesn’t solve a problem, then you shouldn’t design it,” declares Alvin Tjitrowirjo, founder of design firm Alvint Studio and furniture brand Alvint. “That’s what we want to do with this brand, because our aim is to modernise the furniture industry of Indonesia. We want people to perceive us as one of the few brands that offers modern Indonesian design. Part of our mission is to preserve our local heritage through our choices of materials. Besides rattan, I have experimented with bamboo, marble, stone and teak.”
An early fascination with automotive design led Tjitrowirjo to pursue Industrial Design at RMIT University in Melbourne. After graduating, he joined the Melbourne Movement of young designers. His Bell Chair was exhibited at Salone Satellite in Milan in 2005. He returned to Indonesia the following year and became involved in successful collaborations with various brands. He then pursued a master’s degree in product design at Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Madrid, where he did an assignment with Dutch designer Marcel Wanders.
Soon after completing his studies in Spain, Tjitrowirjo started his own furniture brand in Indonesia. “When I came back to Indonesia, I
“When designing a product, it should solve a problem. If it doesn’t solve a problem, then you shouldn’t design it”
made a point of studying, Indonesian craftsmen at work, and marvelled at their ability and dedication,” he recalls. “Yet 10 years ago, no one was doing much of anything to promote Indonesian culture through design. That was so frustrating for me. That was what drove me to create my own brand.”
Last year, Alvin was invited to participate in the XXI Triennale exhibition “Alamak!” in Milan. He showcased two pieces made with rattan: Angan and Lumping. Angan (Daydream) is a suspended shelf made of rattan poles that form a cage-like silhouette bound to uncoated brass shelves fixed with leather. Lumping is a rocking horse with a graphical woven-textured body made of rattan.
Last February, Tjitrowirjo participated in one of Europe’s most prestigious home décor exhibitions: Ambiente 2017 in Frankfurt. He was one of six designers representing Indonesia, and he also created the country’s booth. In April, he took part in Salone del Mobile in Milan. At both events, the designers were supported by the Indonesian Creative Economy Association (Bekraf).
“We received a positive response at both exhibitions,” says Tjitrowirjo. “A lot of the visitors were impressed that Indonesians can produce such high-quality furniture. This was heartening because one of our most important objectives was to promote Indonesia’s creativity in the West. Now, they know that we’re not just a country that exports raw materials. Indonesian can also offer creativity and craftsmanship.”
Tjitrowirjo has launched his latest collection, New Age Luxury, in collaboration with furniture brand Saniharto. The designs come in a calm colour palate and they includes dining chairs, lounge chairs, credenzas and beds.
“We want to redefine contemporary luxury in Indonesia with this collection,” asserts Tjitrowirjo. “Consumers today are more aware of what makes good design than they were in the past. They pay attention to smaller details and also to the quality of products. Our designs are understated and simple because we believe that luxury products should be subtle. They need to be relevant for a long time. You can’t call something luxurious if you can only use it for two years and then it’s out of fashion. It should be able to last much longer than that.”
What has Tjitrowirjo learned over the past decade? “The most valuable lessons have come from travelling, both in Indonesia and outside,” he replies. “I have said that design is a tool to solve problems. We want to keep doing so by respecting tradition and our culture, and without destroying the planet.
“At Alvint Studio, we are currently focusing on our design services, and on expanding and strengthening our capabilities. We want clients to see our work as a tool to create business solutions, while having a positive impact on society. We are keen to work with people who want to invest in creativity, whether it’s restaurants, hotels or retailers. In the future, we hope to become a leader in the contemporary design world - not just in Indonesia, but in Asia.”
NEW AGE LUXURY COLLECTION BY ALVIN TJITROWIRJO AND SANIHARTO
clockwise from above: ONE OF TJITROWIRJO’S HOME INTERIOR PROJECT (POOL AREA THAT CONNECTS THE DINING AREA, BEDROOM AND KITCHEN); MALYA HIGHBACK CHAIRS BY ALVINT; STATUA ROOM DIVIDER AND RUU LOUNGE CHAIR FROM NEW AGE LUXURY COLLECTION
clockwise from above: ALVIN TJITROWIRJO; LUMPING ROCKING HORSE IN THE COLOUR AMARETTO BY ALVINT