Curating and putting together vintage radios and speaker cabinets has been a hobby that has allowed Christian Clerc to find contentment. Indonesia Design talked to him about how it came to be, including the challenges he faced and the creativity involved in the process.
Born and raised in Lyon, France, Christian has always been interested in Asia. He learned Mandarin, which later became useful when he started a career in Asia in 1995. He was the import manager for a French chain supermarket in several Asian countries, where he was working passionately. He then moved to Jakarta with his Indonesian wife in 2001 to pursue a career in private labels.
In 2013, his father passed away. “I was very close to my father, so I felt a huge void and lost interest in the rat race. I needed something that could fulfill my heart,” he said. And that something was found when he started collecting vintage cabinets and consoles mostly from Central Java and East Java. These vintage pieces were then restored and turned into active speakers embedded with Bluetooth. What started as a hobby later became the brand Kris Jänssen in 2015. “Kris” derived from his name written in an Indonesian way of spelling, whilst “Jänssen” is based on a Scandinavian name used to project the minimalist feel as portrayed in Scandinavian design.
Over the years Christian established a network of professionals and technicians that assisted him in making the magic happen. In 2018 he started collaborating with a furniture designer from Barcelona, who is based in Jakarta. They design custom pieces in export quality, where German tube radios are retrofitted in newly built consoles. They make sure that they create products with visually appealing designs involving multiple functions and guaranteed durability. He believes these aspects are what make designs good.
The cabinets, which are made of teak wood, and the radios, were initially found from Facebook groups filled with vintage furniture and electronics collectors. After a while, people started offering their collections to Christian. “But after the restoration, I’m not very keen to ship the audio furniture because there is a fragile part of the tube radios, and it’s difficult to find a technician to fix them in the destination,” says Christian. However, he is able to fix radios in the Greater Jakarta area. This may have to do with the fact that 80 percent of people who have fallen for Kris Jänssen’s pieces are Jakarta residents.
Inspired by the 1960s design, he has launched SKANDI Audio Living by K|J. They are best suited for easy listening music, delivering a round bass as well as a balanced and clear sound. Made from quality solid old teakwood, these handmade consoles reflect the four pillars of the Kris Jänssen brand: vintage feel, simplicity, functionality and trusted quality.
As a perfectionist with an eye for detail, Christian expects his “babies” to be of satisfaction to savvy audio furniture lovers. “For you to truly appreciate the restoration and the sound quality, you have to experience it directly. It’s not just a product. It’s an experience. It’s the touch, the feel, the sound,” he explained. That’s why he is not keen to sell the products online.
As for the development of the Kris Jänssen collection, Christian is looking to be more relevant with the digital age. He is planning to develop the active version of the SKANDI Audio Line in 2019.