Contemporary Until The Cows Come Home


Indonesians in general have no inkling just how beautiful their specific Madura breed of local cattle, that originated from the 'Bos Javanicus' , are compared to other species found around the globe. These cows or sapi have a certain grace, serenity and beauty that captures the attention of many foreign visitors. In light of this endearing inspiration it is rather self-explanatory how it came that a contemporary luxury villa in Lombok got christened with the imprudent yet mooving name "Villa Sapi" .

PHOTOS BY: Villa Sapi Doc

Villa Sapi in Lombok with its unusual name also features an uncharacteristically contemporary architecture compared with the rest of the vicinity. The design is inspired by the idea of building an “architect house”. The Canadian principal designer, David Lombardi, has completed many invigorating projects around Indonesia as well as in Japan and Canada. David listens to his clients ideas and needs prior to designing any project. In the case of Villa Sapi the owners believed in the concept of “maison d’architecte”, that stipulates the client may guide, but the designer is the master. A mutual understanding between the client and the designer resulted in this masterpiece on a rather undeveloped and idyllic island.

The location itself is captivating and inviting with its tall towering coconut trees in front of a pristine white sand beach lying along the mesmerizing and calm Azur blue ocean. As if in a haven of natural beauty, phenomenal snorkeling and diving can also be enjoyed during a stay at Villa Sapi. Sipping sundowners after treasurable tropic days in the sun, with a front seat view of Mount Rinjani, is the ultimate high-lifestyle retreat activity. Being centrally located, a walk to the Oberoi Hotel or Tugu takes a mere five minutes, if a change of scenery is required, or if the mood allows for a night out!

Luxury is both a visible and tangible experience provided through the design, choice of materials and service. Villa Sapi‘s staff, that has been with the management since it opened in 2010, serve in an un-intrusive manner allowing guests to feel completely at home without constant interruption with just the right amount of attentiveness. The Villa is also closed for three months each year due to maintenance and upkeep. The wind, sand and salt may be what visitors seek, but unfortunately it can take its toll on any structure exposed to it, and contemporary architecture in particular needs more care and attention in order to maintain the illusion of perfection.

David Lombardi believes in the expression ‘Less is more’ inspired by Mies Van Der Rohe’s canon of thought regarding design and architecture - in that hiding a structure in unnecessarily details is insulting. On the other hand the response by Frank L Wright to Mies saying “Mies, you often say less is more, but what if less is nothing at all” - brings a balance to his thought process as to how much detail to actually implement to make sure there is something to the design.

The urban morphology of a very small village inspired the landscape of Villa Sapi: Many small villages have a church, temple or shrine centrally located in which people tend to build their homes and shops around. It was the idea of a cluster of buildings around an important structure that lead to the final design ethos. Instead of various buildings being clustered ‘around’ something, at Villa Sapi a series of small buildings developed that formed a cluster sitting ‘under’ something! And so a massive, yet un-obtrusive, roof was designed to allow all the rooms to form a small village beneath it. All of these individual rooms are structurally independent of the main roof and seem to create a journey through a small town. Having this small town feel makes Villa Sapi very family friendly, there is also an in-house chef that gives cooking classes to the neighbouring villagers - supporting this small town philosophy of the design.

It is very clear that good design always speaks for itself, and good service generates the necessary ‘word of mouth’. In the right company enjoying passions such as music, art and food a moo-nificant experience awaits all guests at Villa Sapi in Lombok.

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Dewald Haynes
Born in South Africa, cultural diversity is something Dewald Haynes embrace on a daily basis through his travels. Based in Jakarta he is currently the Editor at Large of Indonesia Design and writing about his findings around the archipelago and beyond is a passion.