Join the global
design collective

Available in print
and online

Cubes Magazine
Cubes Magazine

Alvin Tjitrowirjo: Designing a Message

Indonesian designer Alvin Tjitrowirjo finds comfort in discomfort as he develops a distinct flavour in the brewing cauldron that is Indonesia’s design industry.

  • Alvin Tjitrowirjo: Designing a Message

    Furniture designer Alvin Tjitrowirjo (AlvinT). Photo by Vicky Tanzil

  • Alvin Tjitrowirjo: Designing a Message

    Sketches of Tjitrowirjo's latest chair, the Buana Lounge. Photo by Vicky Tanzil

  • Alvin Tjitrowirjo: Designing a Message

    Tjitrowirjo in his study, which temporarily functioning as his workshop pending the opening of his new studio. Photo by Vicky Tanzil

  • Alvin Tjitrowirjo: Designing a Message

    The welding process of Malya chair in a factory in Solo, Indonesia. Photo by Martin Westlake

  • Alvin Tjitrowirjo: Designing a Message

    Left: Tools for crafting the Lola rattan chair, photo by Martin Westlake. Right: The crafting process of the Petal chair for Yamakawa, photo by Francesca Ferrari

  • Alvin Tjitrowirjo: Designing a Message

    Petal chair designed for Japanese rattan furniture brand Yamakawa Rattan. Photos by Francesca Ferrari

  • Alvin Tjitrowirjo: Designing a Message

    Tjitriwirjo's Linger bench (left) and Petal chair (right) being displayed in Palazzo Lita during Milan Design Week. Photo courtesy Yamakawa Rattan

In formal terms, the design industry in Indonesia is still in its formative years. With all its resources, the country is, both in theory and practice, a hotbed for the creative industries. But it is still a far-from-ideal place in which to sustain a design business. Catching up with Indonesian designers on many occasions in Singapore and abroad, I have observed that there is a distinct way in which they talk about the design industry back home – it is with a strange mix of exasperation and optimism, and the conversation always ends on a hopeful note.

Alvin Tjitrowirjo is one of these designers. Being based in Indonesia, producing in Indonesia and marketing his products and services to the Indonesian market, Tjitrowirjo has his work cut out for him. “You’re constantly being pushed and pulled out of your comfort zone,” he says, adding: “It hasn’t been a smooth journey but it does motivate you.”

Jakarta-born Tjitrowirjo established his design business in 2006 and has become a household name within the Indonesian design scene. He is one of the few Indonesian designers with an international presence. His latest international appearance was in Milan Design Week 2017, for which he designed his country’s debut showcase in Tortona. IDentities: Handmade Indonesian Contemporary Design Pavilion was a massive feat for Indonesia’s design industry. “There is a lot of room for improvement, but it’s a good start,” says Tjitrowirjo.

Read the full article in Cubes 86, out now!


The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed