Yuni Jie: Doing Good Through Design

By vira

Story by Vira Tanka | Photos by Jie Design

Looking stylish, Yuni Jie’s presence steals the attention, even with calm and often monochromatic colours she likes to wear. Subtle and understated, just like how she likes her design to be. Yuni is a product and interior designer with 21 years of experience under her belt, who recently rediscovered her love for painting. The mother of two has published five design books, collaborated with furniture brands, and established Jie Design, an interior design company, since 2004. On top of that, the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and Pratt Institute New York graduate dedicates part of her busy time to One Fine Sky, a charity organisation that she founded. With all those things going on, Indonesia Design found Yuni amazing to get to know closer.

Yuni Jie

What made you interested in art & design in the first place?
My interest in three-dimensional space started from very early age, since the first time I explored Lego.

Why do you go for Casual Elegance style with Jie Design?
I try my best to create something so subtle and understated so that it speaks for itself. I am also big on functional and practical design. My aim is to achieve end results that are classic and timeless.

Watercolour paintings by Yuni Jie

You’ve established a career in interior design for more than a decade. What urged you to diversify into painting?
During the pandemic, I spent a lot of time staying at home and had to accompany my youngest daughter, 5 years old at that time, to study online. I killed some time painting with watercolour and got addicted to it. I actually dream of being a painter when I retire one day. But because of the lockdown, I’ve started painting earlier.

I did more than one hundred paintings in my free time in the pandemic and I utilised it for a good cause. I had my paintings reproduced and turned into products like bags and scarfs, and sold them in a limited number along with certificates of authenticity. A lot of them were collaborative works too, such as with LAFLO, Iwan Tirta Batik, architect Yori Antar for Rumah Asuh, and fashion designer Adrian Gan. The profit from the sales went to a number of charities including one Fine Sky, YWCAN and Natha Satwa Nusantara.

What are your sources of inspiration when designing and sketching?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, that’s for sure. It can come from traveling, architecture, fashion, paintings, other forms of art, even the simplest thing that happens and I see every day. My motto is to stay inspired and my definition of success is when you can inspire other people.

Donating uniforms as a One Fine Sky activity

You have published five books on interior design. Are you planning to publish more? And why do you think it’s important for a designer to publish books?
Yes, five books so far and hopefully some more in the future. I think it is very important for an interior designer to share their work to the public so that it can be a source of inspiration and a channel to share the essence of what the designer thinks good design is. Being a designer is like a problem solver. We have to be able to give good solutions and at the end hopefully using design as a vehicle to improve human’s quality of life.

One of Yuni’s published books, “The Art of Casual Elegance”

You have had so much on your plate and you still find the time to establish One Fine Sky. Please tell us why it’s important to you to help provide uniforms for students through this charity organisation.

To me, giving back to the society is very important, especially through education sector because I believe education plays a very important role in shaping a strong nation. Every purchase of one Fine Sky item will be converted into a set of uniforms for underprivileged students across Indonesia. Up until December 2022, we have distributed 15,000 fresh school uniforms. our motto is to do good and look good.

What does your average day look like?

It is a mix of taking care of my daughters and family with working as an interior/product designer and balance it with social work. I also paint and bake when I have an extra free time. It is quite a challenge, but with excellent time management, all is possible. Hopefully.

Furniture designed by Yuni in a collaboration project

Do you mind telling us about your exciting current or upcoming projects?
There are some very interesting interior design projects that we are working on, where the clients share the same vision and aesthetic taste. I am also eager to develop more product designs with a cause. Previously, I’ve done some Indonesia-inspired collaborations with young local manufacturers: Anyam collection with Sekata Living, Tikar collection with Moire Rugs, Tata collection with DuAnyam and Every. In total, I worked with nine collaborators during pandemic. Right now, I am developing some more of that with other collaborators.

I want to explore Indonesian crafts some more. Along with that, my goal is to bring good cause as part of the design program. I believe that through good and powerful design I can do and contribute so much more to the society.

Informal dining at a penthouse, designed by Yuni

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