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The British Ambassador’s Paddington Bear

We spent an afternoon with the couple to find out about their view on designs, including the latest trends from the UK.

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What kind of interior design approach did you have for the residence?

Moazzam Malik (MM): As an ambassador you inherit a residence for the duration of your mission, which is normally three or four years. The furniture, government art and china are all provided by the British government. It is then up to the individual ambassador and family to add their own personality to the residence. It was important to us that the residence should reflect an old well-respected institution, as well as us, as a modern British family. The formal entertaining space is full of our textiles, pictures and ornaments. We have added to the government art work with our own pictures, ceramic bowls that we have collected over many years and are, of course, finding many new and beautiful design pieces in Indonesia. We like an eclectic style–a combination of modern furniture, quirky ornaments and classic British furniture. We are very impressed with Indonesian furniture and have already bought a few pieces–but we have to be careful not to buy furniture that is too big, as our rooms are much smaller in the UK.

Our private living room is full of echoes of our London home–pictures that were previously displayed in our kitchen and dining room, hundreds of books from our front lounge, ornaments from South Asia and Africa and photographs of our family and friends.

Returning to your question about “our approach”, I think it’s not so much about an approach but rather the residence has evolved with us, and will evolve differently with different personalities and families. Our biggest challenge was to make a space that initially felt like an office–and indeed is located above the embassy–feel like an inviting and friendly home.

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What is the most important design element that you are looking for in a residence?

MM: It is important that the residence feels welcoming and warm. It is important that the residence reflects the personalities of the ambassador living there, but also reflects British design within an Indonesian context. Hence, we have books, ornaments and china that are very British, but also incorporate colours, textures and textiles that are Indonesian. Our tastes reflects the places we have lived and travelled in–London, Oxfordshire, Scotland, East Africa, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan and now, of course, Indonesia. We also want to bring the outdoors into our living space–it is so important for us to have an outdoor space that is green and warm, where we can eat and socialize, laugh and relax.

What are your favourite design products in this residence?

Rachel Malik (RM): We had lived in London for the last twenty years before coming to Jakarta, and so packed up and cleared out a house full of memories and possessions. Our furniture is nearly all stored in London, but we did bring two chairs with us to Jakarta. I think these two chairs epitomize good design. The first chair is a Philippe Starck Louis Ghost chair. This chair is made out of a polycarbonate material and is transparent. Its form and design are testament to simplicity and elegance.

The second chair is an Edwardian armchair from about 1904 that I bought in an antique shop in the Cotswolds about 20 years ago. This chair was always in our London kitchen and is incredibly comfortable. The shape is boxy and simple, with no wasted space. We call this chair our “homesick” chair because it was everyone’s favourite place to sit and drink a mug of tea in London–so we brought it with us to remind us of cold and grey days in London!

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What are some of the current trends in British design?

RM: British art and design has great depth and quality and the UK continues to nurture artistic talent and is a world leader in creativity and design. British design is still at the forefront of change. The mood in 2017 is all about fun, glamorous escapism, exotic prints, woven basketware, colour, pattern and plants. There are vintage and Art Deco influences, bright geometrics and cobalt blue. In fact, anything goes!

What does design mean to you?

RM: We both like well-designed furniture, beautiful textiles, ceramics and interesting artwork. Design does not mean spending lots of money. If you love the pieces you buy, they breathe life into your home. Some of the least expensive design pieces can be the most effective.

There is so much great design in Indonesia. Our basket collection is growing (naturally) along with a keen interest in different textiles from around Indonesia. We love checking out the furniture shops in Kemang, always stop for a coffee at Dia.lo.gue (great for Indonesian design gifts) and mooching around in Alun Alun and The Goods Dept. Many of my favourite finds have been from Paisley Things, a foundation that works with artisans in rural areas to help them maintain their skills and create new designs. Many of the products are made from recycled products, and the artisans are able to earn a living and support their families without having to move to the big cities.

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