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Enshi Sin: Advancing Design in Surabaya

Enshi Sin and his team at Enshi Sin Design Works combine a tasteful sense of aesthetics with spatial knowledge to evoke a comfortable and luxurious vibe within the projects they design. Not many know, however, that he was also involved in the design of a ship. Sin tells Indonesia Design how he did it all.

Photo by Enshi Sin Doc.

Why pursue architecture?

Ever since I was young, I’ve been interested in spaces, shapes, materials and techniques. I made for myself all of the toys and games that I played with as a child. Naturally, when I got older and went to school, I was attracted to architecture and product design. After graduating from high school, I only had one thing in mind: To study architecture. So I entered Parahyangan Catholic University to get my degree. Then I continued to learn about product design at UCLA in the US.

What was your first project?

My first project after I finished university was actually quite complex: The Puri Matahari Condominium. I represented the local partner from the owner’s side who had already commissioned the services of New York’s Brennan Beer Gorman. My experience in finishing the project gave me a strong foundation

in design quality, project/design management, ethics and professionalism, as we had to work with professionals from America, Australia and Japan.

Which project is most memorable for you?

In addition to my first project, another that I remember is the interior design project of an inter-island ferry. We did a complete overhaul of the boat’s interior and part of its exterior. What was interesting for me was that we had to plan the design at the same time as the physical construction because of time constraints. Everything had to be decided on the spot: The process had to be accelerated but still accurate. Some of the work was even done while the ferry was underway. Adding to the unique experience, I found out that, as opposed to designing a static, conventional object; it turned out that being inside a moving ship could make us come up with unusual design decisions. Take the chandelier that we designed conventionally, for instance. Although it was installed using a pipe structure; after the first voyage, it was literally changed to a “deconstruction” style.

What do you think about the development of design in Surabaya?

In terms of architecture, Surabaya is very much behind compared to other cities in the country and abroad. However, in the past few years, changes have been apparent in the architecture of private residences. We have seen more homes featuring interesting designs. Meanwhile, better designs have seen in mass residential projects, apart from the high number of high-rise buildings, which are marginal–where form is created as a result of minimal appreciation of the value of design. Gradually, though, we have seen evidence that people are starting to realise that good design sells.

In the public sector, however, design is still limited. In this city, we can only work and eat—there are not enough options to enjoy life on the scale of a city. People can certainly live here, but there are not too many options to enjoy life.

 Why choose to open your firm in Surabaya?

After returning to Indonesia, I worked for a while in the property and factory department of a cigarette company. After a few years, I resigned. I found that my clientele list had grown, because of the network that I nurtured over the years. So I set up an office in Surabaya. In the beginning I was doubtful that people here would pay for my fee. After a few years, I found out that not only were they willing to pay, but I had also managed to instil in them the fundamental differences between the roles of architects, interior designers and landscape designers. Lately the distinctions have extended to lighting designers and MEP [mechanical, electrical and plumbing] planners.

What’s interesting about Surabaya?

Surabaya is an emerging city in terms of design and architecture. We can take more part in shaping its development, including design appreciation, building design and creating a sound environment.

What are your hopes for Surabaya?

Surabaya is the face of eastern Indonesia, in economics, in lifestyles and in design development. The younger generation is the energy and motivator behind the changes in the city’s façade. The city will grow to be beautiful and attractive in the future. Now is only the beginning.

If we want to push Surabaya to be a more beautiful and a more sustainable city to live in, the municipal government needs to adopt a bigger role in guiding and generating growth. Like most things in life, the first thing to fulfil is the basic necessities–but we also need to continue with the next step: Making a liveable, lovable city.

Enshi Sin

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