Director of Design at Paramita Abirama Istasadhya (PAI)
BACKGROUND. PAI was established in 1985 and ever since has built its reputation as one of the respected design firms in the country. In 1992, the Jakarta-based company welcomed Thomas Elliott as its director of Design. With more than 30 years of experience, he is best known for his tasteful design and rich ambiance that tailor the clients’ best needs. Under his direction, the company has developed into a successful architecture and interior design firm. With a design team that consists of 90 people, he and PAI team focus on luxury residential and hospitality designs.
Please define the meaning of ‘luxury’ for you
Luxury for my projects usually means sort amounts of comfort for the clients and a wealth of visual enjoyments. Luxury means that I’m comfortable with my space, while I also see things of real beauty that can be achieved with natural lights, wealth of experience, different spaces, and beautiful material that matches the building.
What are your criteria in making luxurious design?
It is space but also about the finishes – marbles, fixtures, furniture, lighting, etc. Not only that it has many expensive finishes, but also how we put them together – how we combine contrast and finishes as well make it luxurious. Especially in residential, it includes the way we walk through a project, or what we call as the sequence.
In visiting places, we expect things. Making luxurious design is to ensure that we make something that goes beyond they could ever thought, more experience than you would imagine. But when you live in the house, it’s different from when you are the guest who is coming to the house. You would aim for something calmer.
Hotels can be more extreme, because people are only there for a short time, so we ensure that the design elements give experience and memories that last long.
Is there any trend in luxury developments?
I rarely see a trend because I see each project different. Everybody has a different sense of what beautiful is. I have clients who are Balinese, Milanese, Chinese, and those in coffee culture, or classic. I see all of that and I can’t say that everybody is going towards a certain direction. As I worked in very high-end projects, everybody is rooted with their own thoughts, so they don’t follow too much.
I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years and it’s always the same kind of things. Twenty-five years ago, somebody wanted bricks and steels, classic and minimalist design, and the demands are still there today.
Are there certain areas in Indonesia that are favoured for luxury developments?
Particularly in Jakarta, there are always certain areas: Menteng, Pantai Indah Kapuk and Kebayoran because the property value is high, so they go for equal luxurious designs.
What are your current luxury projects?
I have a lot of private residences here and abroad – some in America, China, Malaysia. There are also a few commercial projects, such as hotels and apartments.
What will change in the luxury design industry?
I think residences will get smaller. It is difficult now to find people to maintain the house (maids, gardener, etc.), so there is a bit of social aspect that will affect how people build houses. Plus traffic in Jakarta; you don’t want to travel too much so its either stay in the office or home. With the advancement of technology, we could work anywhere. We could stay a little bit more at home and work from there. This makes people need work space at home so they can do their work, separated from the family zone.