The Luxury Lifestyle Awards team were thrilled to have the opportunity to discuss the critical drives and impressive portfolio of design with Hawawinata & Associates design duo Erwin Hawawinata (Principal) and Aji Warpani (Partner).
Recognised by this years’ Luxury Lifestyle Awards panel for their outstanding design on Toeffi House, the Hawawinata & Associates team have long been considered the go-to design team for visualising luxury and high-end residential projects. Located in Jakarta, Indonesia, the studio has undertaken a wealth of projects and continue to carve an impressive representation with their understanding of materials, design processes and the latest in luxury living trends.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: Firstly, it would be great to hear how you both found yourselves working within the design industry. Can you give us some background into you and your careers?
EH: My background was always in architecture, and I started learning more about interior design when I worked in one of the best furniture company in Asia. When I was there, I developed my intuition on how to combine and create impeccable architectural and interior design skills to support the needs of high-end customers who expect their houses to be elegant and unique while still homely in every room.
AW: I studied architecture and graduated in 1999. After that, I worked in several architectural consultants in Bandung and Jakarta until I decided to work as an independent architect in 2006 and collaborate with Erwin in 2008 to develop Hawawinata & Associates together.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: With such a competitive market, how do Hawawinata & Associates differentiate their offering from other studios?
EH: One of our differences is that we handle every project we have with a personal touch; I always sketch by hand, in every drawing that I create myself. And we are very peculiar in monitoring every detail on the project site directly. So, clients know that we are involved 100% in their projects. Also, we are always creative by continually offering different style every year, so in every project that we deliver, clients will always find their projects are unique and exclusive.
AW: We always put ourselves as a partner with each client. Our job is to guide the clients during the project implementation, not dictate them or take this advantage to fulfil our ego and idealism as an architect and interior designer. Our approach to each project will always be specific to each client’s characteristic.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: You successfully secured the title of The Best Luxury Residential Interior Design in Indonesia in this years’ Luxury Lifestyle Awards. Tell us more about how the project on Toeffi House came about?
EH: Toeffi House was our second project with the same owner. They had been delighted with the result that we delivered in their first home several years ago.
Our success can be attributed to excellent teamwork and understanding the customer’s needs and how to solve problems together on the site. And, the client’s trust and support in us made everything progress smoothly.
We surveyed the site and the surrounding areas first so that we could make an informed choice and start proposing the design that would best suit the client and the surrounding neighborhood. Toeffi Houses’ architecture and interior design became a focal point in the area and eye-catching addition to the local vicinity.
AW: This was our second project with the customer, and as I mentioned earlier, the key is a productive partnership with our client. We’d developed great harmony in communication and collaboration working with them on the first project, which made them confident to trust us again with Toeffi House.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: Where do you find your inspiration, and how do you integrate local tradition styles with modern luxury living in your designs?
EH: The key is to communicate well and to understand customer’s need. What do they have in mind for their dream house? I usually do a rough hand-drawn sketch, sometimes on the site during our initial meeting with clients which allows me to offer my ideas to match their needs. In Toeffi house, the area is mostly classic architecture, but I tried to propose something different to make their home eye-catching and unique. From there, we expanded the plans to develop a blend of modern and classical styles. We also played with more modern and innovative materials to give a fresh look that would appeal to our customer as they were a young couple.
AW: The challenges are not where to find the inspiration, but how to actuate those inspirations by using our experience and training as architects. We have to keep an open mind and accept there may be a difference between an idea and the reality while understanding values from various design styles. How we integrate local and modern traditions is not a significant issue as long as we can give function and an aesthetic balance between those two.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: Your projects use some beautiful materials, how do you source these and what has been your piece de resistance in recent projects?
EH: It is quite tricky to choose materials in tropical countries, such as Indonesia as it is very humid here, so we need materials that are resilient to our weather but also easy to maintain. So, we did a lot of research in trying to find suitable suppliers that can deliver our ideas, along with patterned materials that can be seen from a distance.
Also, we already have our current suppliers that we always use in our projects, so we just needed them to change the design look, texture, colour so we can maintain the uniqueness in every project that we are doing.
AW: We are fortunate with social media and internet exposure nowadays as it makes it easy for us to learn and monitor new material technology and developments. We also keep in touch with suppliers to discuss, learn and understand their product offering. This is important because the same material can bring different outcomes when used in different settings and contexts.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: Tell us more about the Hawawinata & Associates team and how the company started?
EH: We started our design consultant firm back in 2008. Aji Warpani is my college friend, and at that time we felt that we needed to move on from our “comfort area” in our office. I decided to become a professional architecture and interior designer at the same time as Aji, who also have the same vision for his career. After that, we met and discussed how to form a design firm together.
AW: Erwin Hawawinata and I started this firm back in 2008. At that time, both of us had resigned from our previous company and had the same vision to become an independent architect and interior design. So, we decided to collaborate together.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: How do you both work together, and what are your key strengths?
EH: We respect each other, and there is no “you are right, or you are completely wrong”. With that, we learnt to respect each other’s ideas and decisions because, in the end, we are working towards the same goal. We are not trying to prove that one of us is better, but we always work together to find a fast and best solution for our projects and our clients.
AW: We have set our boundaries, and stipulated our roles and responsibilities within the company. This was decided based on our characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. One of our mutual strengths is that we manage to understand and appreciate each other’s viewpoints so that we can always create a positive work balance in harmony.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: What do you see are the most challenging aspects of the design world?
EH: My biggest challenge is how to provide and explain the design and educate our clients. Because as an architect and interior designer, we not only deliver great design but also have a responsibility to educate our clients. This, in turn, allows them to embrace and understand the architectural plans and convey these to their family and friends.
AW: The interesting and challenging fact is there’s no right or wrong when it comes to design. All are pure perceptions and beliefs. That is why we need to understand and develop good chemistry between ourselves and clients to enable us to translate their wishes to reality.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: With sustainability and biophilia currently playing a role in design, how easy are these concepts to incorporate in luxury architecture and interiors?
EH: The most crucial thing in design is fresh ideas. So, there will always be something different and unique in every design outcome that we deliver. Side by side with luxury, the house must always be homely. Great design is hard to forget and should always be a topic for discussion. A timeless design is one where people are still in awe by it, and people keep talking about it all the time.
AW: Honestly speaking, it is not easy. Sustainability and biophilic concepts need to be implemented in daily life first before we can embrace it further within architecture and design. But, we are going in that direction while trying to implement the basic principles step by step.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: What are you finding are the ‘must-haves’ within luxury residential design and which of these did you use in Toeffi House?
EH: In every design, we need to have balance in profile and its proposition. If it is not balanced, we will have a problematic design, which is never good. “Surprise elements” in each room are essential as well. How we mix the colour, even clashing colours can be an indispensable element on how design can play and evoke people’s emotions when they are entering the room.
AW: Luxury elements are conveyed throughout our projects, even down to the smallest of details. Each object we use can become a luxury item when incorporated in an eye-catching and innovative way. In theory, everything must become ‘a must-have’ when we specialize in luxury residential design.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: If you could choose your next project, what would it be and why?
EH: Maybe a home located inside the forest or farm, so that we can use our design skills to combine the natural environment into our design, as this would be a rewarding challenge. Such as the pyramid IM Pei at the Louvre.
AW: A house in a smaller land area. So far, we are blessed to have undertaken projects with significant land areas. It will become a challenging part for us to create a luxury house with customize, compact, flexible and functional furniture.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: Looking to the future, what is planned over the coming months and years for the Hawawinata & Associates team and do you have any projects in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
EH: We’re now focusing on designing each home to have a storyline that is translated into the facade and throughout the interiors. One of the most challenging projects that we have right now is how to combine a strong Fengshui influence that works with great design. This is an interesting project because there are so many limitations in terms of layout, room proposition and location. On the other hand, it pushes us out of our comfort zone to think of ways on how to balance everything without sacrificing flow, design and function between each room and areas.
AW: Right now, we are utilizing more integrated and effective working systems during the design process while helping us to develop ideas, for example, construction drawings with the support of digital applications. Since we started the company, we had already established a remote working environment which helps to minimize operational costs associated with conventional design studios.
An exciting and challenging project we are currently working on, is a one storey house within an extensive plot, and how we can develop an ideal and proportional layout based on Fengshui practices.
About Luxury Lifestyle Awards
Luxury Lifestyle Awards is a global award selecting, recognizing, celebrating, and promoting the best luxury goods and services all over the world. The goal of the company is to connect people with the best of luxury. LLA has evaluated more than 10 000 various goods and services in 400 categories from 60 countries and analyzed the results to give you a TOP list of the best of the best in the world. Such world-renowned brands as Chanel, Dom Perignon, and Ferrari were proudly named winners. The victory brings companies status and recognition, global promotion, and exposure to an entirely new market of customers.
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