Genius Loci: In Search of the Spirit of A Place


Interior architecture firm Genius Loci has been creating diverse spacial experiences in residential, commercial and hospitality settings for around 12 years. As its name implies, Genius Loci makes designs that help people define “the spirit of place”. We visited their new office in Jakarta.

PHOTOS BY Fernando Gomulya

The Genius Loci office sits in a residential area in West Jakarta. The street view shows a dark grey boundary wall with an automated gate, which gives a first clue about principal designer Alex Bayusaputro’s interest in high-tech devices.

The dramatic entrance has light grey granite stairs and a bold wall made of stone slabs which provides a contrasting background for Nyoman Nuarta’s Borobudur statue. The playful lines of the wooden panels overhead create a dynamic feeling as well as adding colour to the area.

The entrance hallway, next to the white koi pond, feels spacious and airy, thanks to the large open space above the pond. The calming setting makes this area the heart of the office. It can be seen from all the rooms on its three sides and from here we can see that the office is made of several masses – each serving a different function.

The workspace area sits in the biggest mass and is the largest room in the entire office. Genius Loci adopted an open office concept which allows the team to communicate and interact freely. The air-conditioned room has openings on two sides that allow cross ventilation from the backyard to the hallway and koi pond. Through the openings, people can also relax their mind with the tranquil sound of the waterfall and the calming view of the manicured landscape.

On one side of the room there is a library, while on the opposite side there are two large contemporary paintings and a blackboard on which they plan their schedules. The working ambiance is tasteful yet fun with a display of contemporary works including artwork by Yayoi Kusama and the timeless Fritz Hansen chair.

The work desks are divided with two island tables which also provide easy access storage for materials, catalogues and other frequently used documents.

The meeting room is located opposite the workspace area. Its door is located next to the main entrance to provide easy access for clients and guests. The meeting room has a large table surrounded by 14 Iconic Model 3130 chairs by Arne Jacobsen. One side of this room has a floor-to-ceiling window looking out over the pond. Another side is used as a panel where Alex has hung some of his artwork collection alongside sculptures depicting characters from the Chinese classical novel Journey to the West. The valued pieces on display in this room are not only the artworks. As well as the many awards that Alex and the team have accumulated over the years, he has found room for his old laptop and printer. “As a reminder of where I began,” shares Alex.

Another meeting room sits like an island in the middle of the koi pond – accessed from the hallway via a large ‘floating’ stepping stone. The meeting room has glass walls on all sides, giving the effect of sitting right on top of the koi pond.

Alex’s own work space is in the middle of the office. Here, Alex sits at a corner in front of two contemporary paintings depicting Japanese robot comics. Spotlights focus light onto his desk and to his artwork collection. Alex has a one-of-a-kind wooden Gundam in one corner of his office and a collection of sketches, paintings and memorable photographs on the walls. A round table sits in the middle of his office for private meetings and there is a reading corner with a very inviting Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair in brown leather.

All of the rooms in the office have an industrial feel with exposed ceilings, bare steel and unpainted walls. Contemporary artwork and the gallery-like lighting add splashes of colour and provide a rich twist against the concrete background. Surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass walls, the office enjoys views on all sides of the tropical garden and specimen plants which add to the general feeling of openness and transparency in the working environment.

The eclectic approach to the office design reflects the ethos of Genius Loci. As a firm they don’t stick to any single style - they like to experiment with different design themes and this is what they wanted to express in their office.

Alex started out with just a laptop and a printer. His company now has clients from across Asia and, inspired by this stunning new office, his reputation and client base is sure to grow even further.

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Barbara Hahijary
Barbara earned her bachelor's degree in architecture from the Interior Architecture Program of the University of Indonesia in 2013. Historical or heritage buildings, as well as utilitarian design, fascinates her as it is the interaction between people and architecture that remains her favourite topic to explore. Besides architecture, her interests include design, handcrafts, literature and social issues.

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