Satya Putra can’t detach himself from the beauty of the Earth. Having studied biology at a top university in Indonesia and earned a master’s degree from Japan, the self-professed plant geek had a smooth transition into a landscaper. Larch Studio, the firm he cofounded with Sugiharto “Ogi,” whom we interviewed in our “Bandung” edition, has become one of the most sought after landscape design studios in the country.
When did you know you wanted to be a landscaper?
I spent my teenage years living near a field. My father took me there every now and then, so I considered that my playground. In addition, biology was my favourite subject at school. Then it became my major and I even pursued a higher education on this subject. Later, I found myself teaching at the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS). I started as a laboratory assistant and surprisingly ended up doing their garden. Here I found my turning point. Around the same time, I met Ogi at the Singapore Botanic Garden. Ogi, also a plant lover, invited me to get on projects together. Then, we founded Larch Studio five years ago.
How do you feel about working with several famous brands in Indonesia?
It’s fun. It is challenging because overall, in the hospitality world we have to work within a budget and under high pressure. Clients always want something good, and in a good condition, because their day-to-day operation is in progress. And this has to be done using the available budget and time. For instance, for a facility with an 8 AM-11 PM operational hours, we have to work between 2-5 AM. But these limitations hone our skills. It got me thinking, if we can create something good within a limited time and budget, what else can we do with a larger budget and more time?
I still don’t know where our specialty lies, but we will just go with the flow and develop ourselves and keep making new breakthroughs. We will not stop at installations or F&B facilities, but we will develop ourselves organically.
What’s the landscape concept that you presented for the 15th Anniversary of Indonesia Design?
I designed three spots: an arched entrance where I used Bismarckia to provide an architectural sense; the stage where I used Agave, a plant from which tequila is made. This plant has a nice structure, it is easy to maintain and it has a great presence. Finally, for the table décor, I used local moss that we harvested from Puncak, West Java. These plants can create their own landscape to form a 3D look, making an excellent background for the colourful items that are in contrast with the moss. It’s a blank green canvas and the impact is going to create a “boom” effect. Thank God, iD was happy with the design and the guests responded well to it. Our work for the event had a ripple effect; it resulted in an offer to create a décor in Milan.
What is the most challenging aspect of this job?
There are a lot of cases where the plants wither and die. Another problem is being rushed to plant some foliage with the expectation that it would grow lushly that same day. Lastly, there is the people problem. It took me five years to build my solid team.
What plants are trending today?
Monstera, because structurally, it looks great, it is easy to maintain and it doesn’t need too much water. It is very suitable for young professionals who want to grow plants indoor.
Which landscaper do you admire?
Another biologist. He comes from France and his name is Patrick Blanc. He is a horticulturist and biologist who became a landscaper because of his love for plants. Most green walls in Paris were designed by him. You can see the example beside the Eiffel Tower. I have never seen a landscaper with such meticulous work. He takes the time to research. He went to Kalimantan or Thailand to personally take, scrape and culture the plants himself before bringing them to Paris to be installed there.
You prefer to be called a landscaper, and not a landscape designer. Why is that?
Because what we do is more than just designing—we design, build and maintain. In the landscaping industry, merely planting is not enough. We also have to maintain what we plant. We also need to think about the location, whether the plants suit the site, and so on.
What projects is Larch Studio working on at the moment?
We are collaborating with Andra Matin again in a hotel project by Potato Head Group in Seminyak, Bali. There is also Holtekamp Bridge in Papua, which was initiated by President Joko Widodo. We are also doing the refurbishment project of the Graha XL tower in Kuningan, Jakarta, which is handled by CoHive. In addition, there are several residential projects in Pantai Indah Kapuk, Mega Kuningan, Menteng and Pondok Indah in Jaka