The Wunderkind of Wearable Art


The world of decorative arts is one that constantly excites human civilisation from the prehistoric time up to the current time. The design aesthetics and manufacture of beautiful objects that are functional, from illuminated manuscripts to monumental sculptures, and even accessories, continue to evolve. One of the world’s most talented designers in this field is actually an Indonesian. His name is Rinaldy A. Yunardi.

As the maestro in creating accessories, Rinaldy has been in the industry for almost 22 years. He is known for the abstract and contemporary approach that is done in an elegant and aesthetic manner. Some of his designs have become one of the best avant-garde pieces that the world has ever seen and have been awarded by the World of WearableArt (WOW).

Known as an autodidact designer, Rinaldy started developing an interest towards acrylic material when he was working for his brother. This interest eventually led him to his first creation in 1996 in the form of a beautiful tiara.

His work intrigued both the market as well as Indonesia’s fashion industry. Prominent Indonesian fashion designers such as Didi Budiardjo and Sebastian Gunawan immediately asked for a collaboration at their fashion shows.

Rinaldy hunts his raw materials spontaneously and with an open mind. He goes to traditional markets in Indonesia and travels to international destinations. Back in his workshop, all of these materials are processed handmade in order to keep the Indonesian tradition. Because of this, every piece of his design is unique; a one-of-a-kind couture accessory. No two pieces are the same, unless by request.

Over his 20-year career, Rinaldy’s popularity has amplified to the international world and even to Hollywood. His work has started to attract various international celebrities from Aaron Kwok, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, and most recently Madonna, who wore a crown and rosary necklace made specially for her for the opening of the 2018 Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (Met Gala) in New York in May.

This super talented designer has also proven that there is no limit to his creativity. Earlier this year, Indonesia Design invited him to collaborate for our luxury edition magazine cover. He presented various ideas that carried his signature as a maestro of wearable art. The result is this magnificent city of heart that sits on a gigantic diamond in the classic black-and-white look, intensified with metallic accents. He named this piece “Diamond is Forever, Art is Forever”.

The philosophy behind this cover design is that light has the ability to transcend and so does our imagination. However, there are borderlines, similar to life itself. There is no ultimate freedom. For those who are familiar with his work will immediately recognise the intricacy of his design. Rinaldy A. Yunardi is without a doubt the wunderkind of wearable art.

Below is our conversation with him during the collaboration process:

Indonesia Design (iD): You are known for your contemporary yet versatile approach, which makes your creation unique. Can you share your thinking process? What does it take to create and design each piece into a memorable work?

Rinaldy A. Yunardi (RAY): I think my line is very unique, sophisticated and very into delicate details. I am taking this approach in order to avoid my work from becoming a mass product. I always create something that is me and doesn’t exist in others. This is how I give exclusivity to all my clients, to know that what they have is specially made only for them and comes directly from my heart. The exclusivity is the mindset that I have kept since the beginning of my career, and therefore every piece that I create is a couture piece.


iD: Metal elements seem to play an important role in many of your works. What’s so special about them?

RAY: When I look into myself, I see both strong and soft elements. In the past, I have tried to create something sweet and romantic with feminine colours. However, this did not give me the satisfaction as it doesn’t reflect my soul. But then when I work with metals such as copper or brass, I can really bring out the balance of strong and soft elements. I can transform or melt the metal and shape it into something new with my hands.

I like to create all my pieces with hand to keep the handmade tradition. This is one tradition that’s very Indonesian and valuable to the nation. To me, technology is good and beautiful but it is not good if it erases a tradition. So I choose to keep this tradition and become the guardian of it.

iD: What is your idea of luxury in design?

RAY: To me, luxury in design is to work with materials that are rare to find such as antique pieces. This is something that I like to work with actually.


iD: Can you share about your pieces for WOW? What are the key ingredients to creating winning pieces like these? What are the challenges?

RAY: I sent two pieces of work for the World of WearableArt in New Zealand and both won, plus I also received the 2017 Supreme WOW Award. The concept that I bring is about the life of the universe and the world. The first piece, called Encapsulate, is in a form of a capsule. In the life that we are in, we feel and experience. I created this Encapsulate as a capsule of healing to life, that hope still exists. When the capsule is opened, there is a glowing LED light to show that there is still hope in the world that we live into survive.

I used eco-friendly materials for this piece, including a recycled plastic rope. This is an important message that I carry through the piece. I feel that this piece really shows my characteristics. I like my pieces to give understanding and meaning. This is also the piece that received the Supreme Award.

The second piece is called Cosmos, because I believe that we have to preserve the world. Though nature is sometimes damaged, reforestation is possible to be done and to me, this is hope. The pieces come in form of guardians who are in charge of keeping the balance of nature in the earth and also in the universe. I also used recycled plastic rope for this piece.

Note: Encapsulate won Supreme WOW Award and Open Winner, while Cosmos won the Avant-Garde Award at the World of WearableArt 2017


iD: How do you portray Indonesia in your designs?

RAY: Indonesia is so rich and has various cultures. I love it very much. It is precious to me and I have been studying it for a long time for my line. My style is to mix traditional and modern. For example, I like to find a middle ground between Victorian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco. In my work, I continue to use the richness of Indonesian tradition and I will add the modern twist to give a contemporary feel. Having said that, I will always keep it within the ethics.

iD: We are excited about this cover. Can you tell us about the design concept?

RAY: I chose diamond as it is an element that I always work with. I love how it shines and the fact that it is really precious. I set a tiara on top of the diamond as it marks my signature in this industry. I designed the tiara in the form of buildings to create that connection to Indonesia Design. I also bring the heart element as the main accent. You can have all the talents in the world, but it won’t mean a thing if your heart is not in the right place. Like I have said before, I create from the heart.


iD: What can you tell us about the headpiece that was worn by Madonna in the last Met Gala?

RAY: Every year Met Gala has a different theme. This year’s theme was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and Catholic Imagination” and I was contacted by The Clique Talent Management (his international manager) that Madonna wants my pieces for the Met Gala. However, I wasn’t informed exactly on what she wanted. I didn’t even know what she was about to wear. So I just followed my feelings and created a crown and a necklace. Thank God, it was well received and can be matched with the dress from one of my favourite fashion designers, Jean Paul Gaultier.

I’ve loved Madonna for a very long time and noticed that she likes to wear long chains. She is a trendsetter with full totality and she’s a perfectionist too. I also know that her image is the cross, as she likes to wear it. So I was focusing on making plenty of crosses for this headpiece. I completed the piece in four days while praying hard. I really tried to get my best game on and I was relieved to know that it was not only well received but also paired with Jean Paul Gaultier’s dress. I received confirmation from my management at 6 a.m. on that day that she was going to wear it. When I saw her wearing it, I had tears of joy. She is a legend and I am still speechless. It is truly an honour to have my pieces worn by Madonna.


iD: What is the future project or dream of Rinaldy A. Yunardi?

RAY: My dream… I actually have never dreamt to be a designer. I am only a senior high school graduate and back then, I wasn’t thinking of work in an industry like this. It was all thanks to the late Kim Tong (aka Tong Jin Kim), one of Indonesia’s most renowned bridal designers who introduced me to a tiara. Though it got my attention, I didn’t immediately learn or understand how the process works. It was not until I worked with my brother that I found something to work with my hands.

It is indeed the way and will of God, as I started to get curious and make experiments. Because of these experiments, I can grow and explore more of all ideas and imaginations. Experimenting becomes a training that I do to find inspiration and to see what I like, or what I will use in for later. All my work is experiment-based and I have been doing it for 21 years now. I love it, though at the beginning I didn’t know whether it would be a success or not. I do know now that this is my life.


iD: What advice do you have for an aspiring designer who is trying to establish their own work?

RAY: Just be yourself. Understand yourself and learn about yourself. Bring the best out of yourself. Learn to explore, hear, and accept critiques. You won’t be able to move forward and have confidence without understanding yourself.

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Erza S.T.
Erza has pursued his great passion for opera and classical music for over a decade. His brainchild, the Indonesia Opera Society, has produced many classical music concerts and operas, and recently marked its 10th anniversary with a gala production. He is also a journalism lover focusing on luxury, lifestyle and travel stories, which he files from datelines around the globe.

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