Wednesday, October 1, 2008

WEEKEND TOURS WITH CLIFFORD PEARSON, Visiting Places and Capturing Cultural Souls for a Book about Indonesia.

The event is begun in 1997 when a friend contacted me and mentioned that somebody from U.S. needs a visit list for several places in Indonesia. She also mentioned that this person is an Author and have intention to write a book about Indonesia.
Spontaneously, I proposed list of places might be suitable for the purpose, mostly in Java. For West Java, I proposed Bandung local artist houses such as Sunaryo (Sculptor), Srihadi (Painter) and A.D. Pirous (Calligraphic Painter). For Central Java, I proposed Arief Budiman house and Kali Code Compound beside well-known ancient temples such as Borobudur and Prambanan and also Sultan Palaces in Jogjakarta and Surakarta. I was immediately contacted my good friend of mind, Ndaru (Hendro Prabowo) at Jogjakarta and asked another additional list of places could be added into visiting list. Ndaru, as I remember added Jogja local artist houses such as Amri Yahya, Andrianto, local bird market and Sendang Sono, the awesome built-environment designed by the Architect Romo Mangun Wijaya.

I was not involving in every trip, because I could only free from my office in Jakarta during weekend only. Mostly, I met with Clifford Pearson and Ndaru two times on Saturday till Sunday at Jogjakarta. In this town I was recognizing Clifford Pearson as Associate Editor of Architectural Record when he gave me his name card during dining session around Malioboro.

Fortunately, a friend who lived in Jogjakarta could arrange Saturday-Sunday Trip to Borobudur, Prambanan, Mendut, Sendang Sono Sites,'Kali Code' riverbank compound, Jogja Bird Market and Sultan Palace in Solo.

He was driving the rental car with Bon Jovi songs were playing along the way. He was also find-out a nice small motel at Prawirotaman in Jogja where we stayed during the trip.What I never forget from this trip was the event when on Sunday I called directly Romo Mangun from my hand phone and introduced Clifford Pearson for personal interview. He was very pleased and available for interview on Monday. Unfortunately, I missed this valuable event because on Sunday evening I must got the last train to Jakarta from Semarang, of course because I must get back to work. This is valuable session, because no longer from this event Romo Mangun Wijaya, who is well known as an Architect, writer, spiritual leader and cultural observer passed away.This last Trip session with Clifford Pearson, Bryan Whitney (the photographer) and my other friends was so memorable for me. I will always keep in my mind we were climbing the hill to find-out Sendang Sono site that we have never seen before or when we were having coffee time at a small coffee shop owned by Danarto nearby Pasar Klewer Solo. Also when Clifford closed his eyes and took a walks in the center of ‘Alun-alun’ Jogja, tried to find straight way in between two ancient Banyan Trees. And he made it!My friend was continuing this journey with Clifford to Sumatera. Actually, Clifford also have his own list of places should be visited including Bali and Sulawesi. Not all these visited places are recorded and published in his book.

Long time after those memorable trips, we have got the final published book from Clifford Pearson. The book title is “Indonesia Design and Culture”, 272 pages of book published by Monacelli Press on 1998. It was great found my name is mentioned among the other names by Clifford Pearson in the foreword page. Not all of visited places are published in the book. Clifford Pearson also sent to my office sheets of photographs from Manhattan-New York that capture me and my friend were sitting together on entry stair of Prambanan Temple and standing in the middle of hanging bridge of Sendang Sono.

Truly and again, this was a memorable trip for me and become one of unforgettable weekend in my life time.

Photo references:

CIBOGO SERAI HOTEL, Memoir of a Dutch Boy in Java Plantation House as Basic Concept for Hotel Interior Design.

This was my first assignment when I joined with PT. Parama Loka Consultant in 1994, a Jakarta based Architecture and Interior Design Consulting Firm. Firstly, it was difficult since there was no definitive appointment to the Interior Design Team from the “General Hotel Management (GHM)” as the Hotel Operator. GHM required the Interior Design Team to demonstrate potential ability to propose and deliver acceptable design concept as excellent as design concept have delivered by the appointed Architect Design Team.

During first two weeks, we tried to do design researches to find-out specific theme that relevant could be proposed as design concept, something that reflects local characters. We came to the first presentation day and unfortunately the concept we proposed is directly rejected by GHM. The Hotel Operator gave the team another one week to find-out again the concept that properly proposed for the hotel.

After did for another design and research efforts, finally we came into final presentation session. And, the concept was accepted this time. Basically, the design was reflecting simplicity and natural details as always shown as signature in every Serai Hotel everywhere in the world.

Actually, GHM was asking one another requirement, it was a specific theme could be incorporated into the Hotel Design Concept. To responded this, we did a one day visit to bookstores in Jakarta, and what a big lucky, finally we found a literature book that I believe will be matched and could be properly proposed for the Hotel Concept. Yes, I still remember, I have found this literature book in Kinokuniya Bookstore in Jakarta. The book is a memoir of a Dutch Boy who lived in Java Plantation House during Dutch Colonialism Era in Java Indonesia. Very unfortunately, I lost the book and could not remember what the exact title of the book.If not mistaken the book should be Ernest Hillen's "The Way of a Boy".

I only remember that when I was opening the first page, there was wording mentioned when Dutch boy waked-up in the morning he heard somebody’s foot step on wood floor. And when he opened the door in the morning he saw banana tree are found everywhere in the house courtyard. Roughly, this very suitable with hotel venue where situated in concealed tropical mountain area in West Java within tea plantation surround, about two hours from Jakarta.GHM was very pleased when we shown the bookand GHM immediately accepted that Java Plantation House will become main theme for the Hotel Design. Simply, there will be wood plank flooring and also banana tree pots are placed everywhere in the Hotel Interiors.

Of course, after this session we could enter into the design development process smoothly. It was becoming more interesting when we interfaced together with the Lighting Designer, Nathan Thompson from Australia. Many details of ideas are generated which are actually enriched the design concept.

Our latest interaction with Architect, Project Manager and Lighting designer is happened onsite that is already prepared into “cut and filled” stage. We were imagining together, where the hotel 'porte cochere', coffee lounge, bungalow and other facilities are will be situated. But, this was our latest site meeting, because the Hotel is never built and remaining as a set of idea on drawing papers.