Photos by Ferry Ridwan
During the three decades of working as an architect, Ferry Ridwan has completed numerous projects, overcoming various obstacles and achieving remarkable successes. Five years ago, after gaining experience at several architecture studios, he took the leap and established his own studio, FRA. Indonesia Design was intrigued by this new venture and eager to learn more about Ferry’s perspective as an architect. Here is an excerpt from our interview with the humble man who hails from Bandung.
What sparked your interest in architecture?
First, I have always been enchanted with by aesthetic things. Second, during my youth, I travelled a lot with my family, which allowed me to experience the diverse offerings of various locations, from musical instruments to the wonders of nature. Even though we only travelled within the country, that was enough to make me awed with what I encountered, especially buildings and interior design.
I was a city boy from Bandung, but I loved being in nature and gaining new experiences. I believed that architecture would provide me with more opportunities to indulge in this passion whilst liberating me from the burden of excessive academic memorisation. One aspect that particularly appealed to me was how architecture allows for diverse solutions to a single problem because everybody has unique self-expression.
Which architects do you find most influential in your design style, and why do you appreciate their designs?
There are a few architects who have greatly influenced my design style, particularly Le Corbusier and Tadao Ando. Le Corbusier’s buildings amazed me with their organised geometric shapes, clean aesthetics, and occasional modularity. They possess a timeless quality, and there is always something new I can learn from his work. Meanwhile, I’ve had the opportunity to see some of Tadao Ando’s architectural works in Japan. One that particularly stands out is The Oval at the Benesse Art Museum on Naoshima Island. What impressed me about this structure was its simplicity, beauty, and its ability to harmonise effortlessly with the surrounding nature, despite its massive size. It taught me the valuable lesson that we can still enjoy nature whilst we’re inside a building.
How would you define your design style?
Ideally, my design style leans towards simplicity, basics, and harmony with its surroundings. But I don’t think I have perfectly reached that point just yet.
What is the most challenging thing in your field of work?
Everyone possesses an ego, let alone architects. The challenge is how to balance it with other aspects, especially in a project for commercial buildings. I must consider the needs of clients and users, uphold my idealism, and simultaneously strive to minimise environmental impact.
What is the most interesting aspect of being an architect
I find the entire process fascinating. It starts with drawing a floor plan and the shape of building’s design. Then, I present the idea to the client, and from there, it progresses through various stages until the construction begins. There are always some changes in each phase for many reasons, which consume a lot of energy. But I enjoy the process. And these changes can indeed make the result even better than the initial design. So, how we respond to problems will affect the result. I try to go about them positively, rethink and redesign. Usually, I come up with better end results.
You founded FRA in 2018. How do you plan to develop it?
As FRA is still in its early stages, our primary focus is on improving teamwork, which will impact the quality of our performances. Currently, our company consists of nine architects who function as a cohesive team rather than individuals. We also provide interior design services for projects that include architectural works.
Do you mind telling us about your current or upcoming projects?
We have quite a few ongoing projects including a hotel, a club house, a sports club, a restaurant, villas, houses and cafes. That’s all I can say for now because most of them are still confidential.
Amidst your busy schedule, how do you find time to relax and seek new inspirations?
I normally work from 9 or 10 in the morning. Sometimes I finish late at night, whilst other times concluding my day in the late afternoon. When time permits, I visit my family in Bandung at weekends or embark on road trips during my extended breaks. I particularly enjoy driving to unfamiliar destinations, such as the tranquil small towns in Java.
Since I became an architect, I pay more attention to buildings when I travel. Even the simple places can be inspiring. For example, diners in a small town are very basic yet they possess a remarkable charm due to natural and unpretentious designs. This kind of place encourages me to incorporate a touch of unruly and fearlessness into my designs.