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The Man Behind Kris Jänssen

Putting together vintage radios and speaker cabinets has been a hobby that has not only turned into a business, but has also allowed Christian Jänssen 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.

The Man Behind Kris Jänssen-Christian with signature art deco radio console

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 Taiwan, and then moved to Jakarta with his Indonesian wife in 2001. He was a hard and passionate worker wherever he was posted.

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 from Central and East Java. These 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.

The Man Behind Kris Jänssen4

Over the years, Christian has put together a team of professionals to make the magic happen. In 2018, he started collaborating with a furniture designer from Spain based in Jakarta. They design custom pieces in export quality, using German tube radios retrofitted into newly built consoles. They make sure they create products with visually appealing designs involving multiple functions and guaranteed durability. He believes that 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 most of Kris Jänssen’s customers are Jakarta residents.

The Man Behind Kris Jänssen-Philips Philetta produced from 1953-1961 was one of the top sellers worldwide

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 in your ears,” he explained. That’s why he does not want 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.

The Man Behind Kris Jänssen-Philips Adagio, a hybrid tube radio from 1965-1966 made in Austria

The Man Behind Kris Jänssen-Early 1960s Normende Phono Super

The Man Behind Kris Jänssen-1962 Philips Desiree

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