Ar­ti­san

Us­ing cut­ting-edge tech­niques and an in­no­va­tive ap­proach, MM Gal­leri gives new mean­ing to the art and craft of stonework

Singapore Tatler Homes - - OCT/NOV 2018 -

MM Gal­leri gives new mean­ing to the art and craft of stonework with its cut­ting-edge tech­niques

Stone­ma­sonry may be one of the ear­li­est trades in the his­tory of hu­man civil­i­sa­tion but en­tre­pre­neur Peter Tjioe sees no rea­son why it can’t progress be­yond the time­worn tech­niques of old, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to its dec­o­ra­tive ap­pli­ca­tions. The pres­i­dent of MM Gal­leri Group, an In­done­sia-based stone spe­cial­ist and fab­ri­ca­tor, has been work­ing to­wards cre­at­ing more pre­cise and more eco­log­i­cal ma­chine-as­sisted means of work­ing with the ma­te­rial. Es­tab­lished in 1992, the com­pany has over two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try. Its most re­cent in­no­va­tion: the abil­ity and tech­nique to bend mar­ble and other types of nat­u­ral stone. It’s just the tip of the ice­berg when it comes to the com­pany’s tech­ni­cal achieve­ments and am­bi­tions. “Our com­pet­i­tive edge lies in the fab­ri­ca­tion—we do ev­ery­thing from pack­ing, cut­ting to pol­ish­ing the stone,” shares Tjioe.

“We be­lieve in hav­ing the right com­bi­na­tion of skilled staff, tech­ni­cal abil­ity and the right fa­cil­i­ties.” To­day, the com­pany works with var­i­ous nat­u­ral stone im­ported from over 50 coun­tries, col­lab­o­rat­ing with ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers on projects world­wide through its three of­fices in Surabaya, Jakarta and Sin­ga­pore. The lat­ter, which opened ear­lier this year, is a par­tic­u­larly awe-in­spir­ing sight, ap­pear­ing like a subter­ranean cave dec­o­rated with mar­ble-clad walls.

SET IN STONE

Si­t­u­ated in east Java near Surabaya, In­done­sia, the MM Gal­leri head­quar­ters is housed in a mod­ern build­ing dis­tin­guished by its or­ange cladding and boxy sil­hou­ette. Step in­side and its grand in­te­rior in­stantly makes a state­ment. The show­room is decked from floor to wall in var­i­ous types of nat­u­ral stone, rang­ing from an el­e­gant ar­ray of mar­ble to in­tri­cate lat­tice screens and back­lit fea­ture walls cut from onyx. The build­ing also houses a seafood restau­rant, one of Tjioe’s many en­trepreneurial ven­tures and the main venue where he en­ter­tains his guests. An ad­ja­cent air hangar-like space houses pol­ished slabs of mar­ble and other nat­u­ral stone, with sev­eral slabs run­ning the length of up to four-me­tres. A mar­ble stair­way leads up to a tran­quil lounge area on the sec­ond floor, sim­i­larly de­signed to im­press and ex­em­plify the com­pany’s fit­nesse with stonework. An aero­plane model made of bended mar­ble is one of its con­ver­sa­tion pieces, along with an im­pres­sive swivel door made from a block of Nero Por­toro mar­ble, its dis­tinc­tive gold veins adding a glam­orous touch to the space. The door con­nects to Tjioe’s per­sonal of­fice, which fea­tures an im­mac­u­late mix of mod­ern fur­ni­ture on top of the book­matched Stat­u­ario mar­ble floor­ing. Elab­o­rate, el­e­gant and well put to­gether, it speaks of the essence of lux­ury that the firm aims to achieve with its cre­ative and myr­iad ap­pli­ca­tions of nat­u­ral stone.

“OUR COM­PET­I­TIVE EDGE LIES IN THE FAB­RI­CA­TION... WE BE­LIEVE IN HAV­ING THE RIGHT COM­BI­NA­TION OF SKILLED STAFF, TECH­NI­CAL ABIL­ITY AND THE RIGHT FA­CIL­I­TIES”

LEAD­ING EDGE

Tjioe’s foray into the in­dus­try be­gun al­most by ac­ci­dent, after an ac­quain­tance had roped him into the mar­ble im­port­ing busi­ness. “We started as a small mar­ble ven­dor and we have since ex­panded the com­pany by keep­ing up with the trends, in­no­vat­ing along the way,” he shares. “We have con­structed build­ings, churches, stat­ues, as well as many other out­door and in­door ap­pli­ca­tions of nat­u­ral stone.” The busi­ness­man—he also runs a wicker and rat­tan fur­ni­ture com­pany (which re­mains a part of the MM Gal­leri Group)—had no prior knowl­edge of stone­ma­sonry. Dur­ing the com­pany’s early years, Tjioe worked as its chief engi­neer and mar­keter, while run­ning the firm. Us­ing his back­ground in com­puter science, the eru­dite en­tre­pre­neur cus­tomised ma­chin­ery to suit the trop­i­cal cli­mate and other prac­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tions. In fact, the re­cent bended mar­ble tech­nique arose from one of such ex­per­i­ments. While nat­u­ral stone such as mar­ble may be known for its rigid­ity and strength, Tjioe wanted to put these qual­i­ties to the test. He turned to re­search data fo­cused on the stone’s bend­ing strength—the ex­tent and lim­its to which the stone can be bent. In the process, his team dis­cov­ered that var­i­ous types of stone can be made pli­able and bent into curved forms, by cut­ting it into ex­tremely thin lay­ers to be used as cladding for dec­o­ra­tive pur­poses on fur­ni­ture and in­te­ri­ors. As­tounded by the amount of wastage he had seen at the stone quar­ries, Tjioe also wanted to find eco-con­scious ways to max­imise the use of each slab of stone.

“WE TREAT STONE AS MORE THAN A COM­MOD­ITY, AND WE KEEP LEARN­ING AND CHAL­LENG­ING OUR­SELVES TO DO BET­TER”

“With this bended mar­ble tech­nol­ogy, we use only 2 to 3mm of stone, which can be less than 10 per cent of the ma­te­rial,” he says. “We can also use the of­f­cuts from the quar­ried blocks that would oth­er­wise be thrown away, for out­door sur­faces or even in­te­ri­ors.” An­other key in­no­va­tion is the pre­ci­sion of their au­to­mated stone fab­ri­ca­tion pro­cesses, ac­com­plished through con­stantly up­grad­ing and im­prov­ing their Europe-im­ported ma­chin­ery. “It’s not just about buy­ing the ma­chine, it’s about how you put it into prac­tice in the ac­tual pro­duc­tion line,” shares Tjioe. Take for in­stance its new­est ma­chine, which is equipped with a sev­e­naxis spin­dle and cam­era in­put. Based on the spec­i­fi­ca­tions pro­vided, it is able to cut a sculp­tural side ta­ble from a slab of stone within an hour; the same piece may need up to 58 hours if cut by hand. Be­yond the com­plex ma­chin­ery, what’s as strik­ing about the fac­tory is its lush sur­round­ings, which in­clude a path lined with bam­boo groves and ponds. The eco­con­scious en­tre­pre­neur hopes to keep it that way, grad­u­ally adding more green­ery to the site while min­imis­ing the use of chem­i­cals in its fab­ri­ca­tion pro­cesses; the goal is to do with­out these clean­ing chem­i­cals com­pletely.

NEW VEN­TURES

Even now, Tjioe is not about to rest on his lau­rels, stay­ing true to his per­sonal motto: work hard and be cre­ative. “My busiest time of the day is at night, think­ing about my next project,” quips the Re­nais­sance man. The firm re­cently pro­duced a func­tional gui­tar carved from onyx and de­buted a bath­room con­cept at a fur­ni­ture fair in In­done­sia; the lat­ter fea­tures a shower area with free-form walls clad in bended mar­ble. His next goal: to find more ways to utilise the tech­nique, through dec­o­ra­tive pieces that fea­ture a trompe l’oeil ef­fect and other mind-bend­ing op­ti­cal il­lu­sions. Ul­ti­mately, he feels the for­mula for his com­pany’s suc­cess is as sim­ple. “We treat stone as more than a com­mod­ity—and we keep learn­ing and chal­leng­ing our­selves to do bet­ter,” he says.

THIS PAGE MM Gal­leri Group pres­i­dent Peter Tjioe; the floor­ing of his per­sonal of­fice in Surabaya is clad in book-matched Stat­u­ario Car­rara mar­ble; the bended mar­ble tech­nique can be ap­plied onto var­i­ous fur­ni­ture pieces such as bath tubs and side ta­bles

OP­PO­SITE PAGE The MM Gal­leri head­quar­ters in In­done­sia show­cases myr­iad ap­pli­ca­tions of nat­u­ral stone on its walls, floors and fur­ni­ture

LEFT TO RIGHT A gui­tar crafted with the firm’s bended mar­ble tech­nol­ogy; a ve­hi­cle fea­tures bended mar­ble cladding on the car hood; the MM Gal­leri Sin­ga­pore show­room; Ital­ian sin­tered stone pur­veyor Lapitec is one of MM Gal­leri’s key part­ners, and its sur­faces are used for in­door and out­door ar­eas

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