Incorporating Indonesian Aesthetics into Modern Office Design
Okky Wardhana has designed numerous offices all over the Indonesian capital, and is known for ingeniously incorporating elements of Indonesian culture into his designs. One of his latest projects is the Mercedes and Daimler offices, featured in this issue. Indonesia Design spoke to him to discuss his background, his vision of design, and lots more.
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
My name is Okky Wardhana, I’m from PT Morphosa Indonesia. We are an interior design office in Jakarta, and we have been here since 2012. So far we are focusing on office interior design which is very interesting for us because in Indonesia, design has not been explored fully yet. We want to focus on office design and make office design in Indonesia more interesting and be able to compete with other countries.
Who is your idol in terms of design? Who did you aspire to be when you first started in the industry?
There are so many actually, but Zaha Hadid is one of my favourite since I study architecture. She has no boundaries in design. For me there are a lot of rules when I design but I try to be more flexible and more creative. Again the challenges are efficiency and costs, all designers will encounter this problem but if you ask me, Zaha Hadid is one of my favourite.
What is your design aesthetic?
Again, I always incorporate Indonesian culture in my design. There are still a lot of aspects that I haven’t explored and want to explore in the future. Design has to have a soul, not just modern, not just simple or minimalist, but it has to have soul. Indonesia has that aspect of soul, and it has different meanings that I would like to explore. My designs always have that connection to the culture of Indonesia.
What kind of projects do you usually handle and what is your proudest achievement?
So far I am focusing on office projects, Mercedes and Daimler are one of my favourites because we were able to do a lot. Our clients are also simple and easy to discuss with. They allowed us to use any kind of ideas in the design. Another favourite is the Indonesia Stock Exchange, they were one of my biggest clients. I also incorporated Indonesian elements in every angle for that project. I actually love all of my designs, but these are just the biggest clients I’ve had.
What do you think makes a good office design?
A good office design first of all has to be functional. The price of renting an office space is so expensive that we have to find a way to make every inch of the space efficient. We have to be careful when creating a layout and always remind the client if some their requests don’t make sense in terms of effectively using the space. For example, we tell our clients to remove some storage spaces because we are now in the digital and paperless era. It’s important to promote sustainability in design. Also, a good office has to be meaningful. These days we work long, stressful days with a lot of targets and deadlines, so it’s important to have a comfortable space to work in. Offices nowadays are a part of our lives, it’s a place to socialise and develop relationships, it’s also a place to grow as a person as you get older. These are a part of our basic needs and we can’t ignore it, therefore it is important to have an office that is as comfortable as possible and also feels like home.
In your opinion, what is the future of office design?
The future of office design is promising, because right now we have a country that is more stable in terms of the economy, we are getting more investments. We are focusing a lot on property investments as well and are getting more investors to come into Indonesia and rent offices in buildings. Currently there aren’t a lot of designers that focus solely on office design because it is quite complicated. We have to deal with the needs of 100- 200 people, deal with efficiency, ratios, and keeping costs low. But in terms of it’s future, it is definitely promising.
What do you think are the biggest mistakes designers make and what is your advice for future Indonesian designers?
I think one of the mistakes designers make is that sometimes we can be… too selfish. We always have to remember and put ourselves in our client’s shoes. Sometimes we need to have a lot of discussions and explorations in order to create a design that accomplishes all of their needs and our vision. Sometimes clients need to be guided, it’s true, but there’s nothing wrong with exploring their vision and elaborate their design ideas. Designers often have such strong opinions and ideas and want to push their own aesthetic forward, but they have to learn to accept criticism.
My advice for future Indonesian designers is that, they have to educate themselves and study a lot. They have to understand that Indonesian design is still growing up and evolving. It is also important to learn from every project they do, that’s very important.