Paving the Way for the Indonesian Design Industry

Photography By Roni Bachroni

Roommates is a collective of seven prominent designers from different backgrounds who all share a passion for the advancement of the design industry in Indonesia. Together, they want to allow Indonesian creatives from different backgrounds to understand the importance of design in our daily lives. Indonesia Design spent some time with these talented founders and talked to them about their vision behind this movement.

What is the story behind the creation of Roommates?
Nowadays, almost all aspects of our daily life intersect with design and creativity, and design is no longer an exclusive thing; it’s a part of our lifestyle. Seeing this phenomenon is why Roommates was formed. We are an association of creative people whose aim is to educate and introduce design to the community, and we want to focus on talking about design in all forms such as in buildings, interiors, furniture, products, food, fashion and also within our daily lives.

The idea came about when all seven of us met in Milan and stayed in an apartment together for a few days. Spending time together was a very pleasant experience, and we felt like a big family with the same passion for the advancement of Indonesian Design. It was a surprise for us just how well we got along, considering that we are seven designers with different backgrounds, each of us having a fairly large ego and influence in the design industry, yet are still able to respect each other. The good relationship created between the seven of us is what makes us comfortable to discuss and develop ideas related to the development of the design world in Indonesia. This was the main reason behind the creation of Roommates.

What is Roommates Social Media?
Roommates Social Media is actually one part of the Roommates program, where it is not only limited to Education, Exhibition, Competition and Social Work but also as a platform for communicating our vision and mission with the public and other creative people.

Who came up with the idea of creating this?
This idea was agreed on by all of us. First we wanted to make a documentary about all of our lives, and specifically the story of the seven of us in Milan for Milan Design Week 2018. We wanted to share our advice to young designers and give some input about how to live abroad, how to make deals and negotiate, how to carry themselves and socialise, and lots more. We must realise that as creative people in this era of globalisation we must be open to international relations. But not all designers can get opportunities like this.

It began with just the seven of us and this documentation, but soon we realised that it should also contain different programs with other creative people. One of them is Roommates Media, but there are also programs in the fields of Education, Exhibition, Competition and Social Work where design can also provide benefits to disadvantaged people. The first step is to enter the media and allow input from other creative people available to the public, so that the existence of Roommates will become greater and become a reference for design trends to the public.

Who are the members and what are their roles?

Roommates itself has seven founders who are all designers. Each of the seven designers has expertise that complement each other, along with qualified experience both locally and internationally.

  1. Lea Aziz is an interior designer who served as the chair of the Indonesian Society of Interior Designers (HDII) from 2015 to 2018 and now serves as vice president of the Asia Pacific Space Designer Association (APSDA) in the Foreign Affairs section, and as the Council of the Indonesian Interior Designers Assembly Board. She is also often a jury of Design both inside and outside the country. 80 per cent of the projects she handles are BUMN and Government Projects. In Roommates she is responsible for managing the company, and gaining sponsorship.
  2. Cosmas Gozali is an architect who has a lot of experience participating in exhibitions both in Indonesia and abroad, and he is now a member of HDII and is also active in the IAI organisation (Indonesian Architects Association) as chair of the Organisation on Institutional and International Relations.cIn Roommates he has a role in the events and exhibitions section.
  3. Alvin T is a product and interior designer who has often participated in prominent exhibitions in the country and abroad. He designs many local cafes and restaurants with a particular sense of style, and often uses rattan as a signature material in his projects. His role in Roommates is in media, publications and international relations.
  4. Lutfi Hasan is an interior decorator, product designer and public relations practitioner. He has often participated in prominent exhibitions abroad. In Roommates he is in charge of communication with the government.
  5. Francis Surjaseputra is a product and interior designer who was formerly the chair of HDII and chair of APSDA. He has a lot of relationships with international organisations that will help Roommates.
  6. Kenzo is an architect and interior designer who served as chairman of HDII Semarang branch from 2014-2018. He handles a lot of private and government projects. He is also involved in the preservation of the Javanese batik tradition by turning it into modern fashion pieces and interior products with the brand “Galeri Batik Jawa”, that specialises in natural indigo colour dye. He also often holds large exhibitions both domestic and abroad. In Roommates he has a role in establishing relationships outside Jakarta and Internationally.
  7. Eugenio Hendro is a product and interior designer who has often participated in prominent exhibitions abroad. He caters to high end funiture brands such as Bika and Bramble from the US, with the goal to elevate Indonesian furniture craftsmanship to the world stage. He is in charge of University relations in Roommates.

What is your vision and mission?
The aim is to educate and promote design to the public. It is not just limited to us seven designers, it is now more broad and open to other creative people, such as film players, book writers, etc.

Through Roommates we want to get opinions from other creative people and give input to the public about the world of design and creativity itself, with different perspectives and expertise.

What are the types of projects you do?
The first step of the Roommates project is social media and education. Through social media we can introduce our vision and mission as a means of discussion with the public and other creative people. What we share doesn’t just come from us, but it also comes from collaborations with different designers and other creatives.

What are Roommates’ plans for the future?
In the future, we hope Roommates can become a part of the design industry and be used as a reference on design for many people. In the end we want to show the Indonesian and international community that design and creativity are a part of our daily lives.

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Roni Bachroni