Evolution in Shape
Furniture designer Aloysius Baskoro Junianto presents a contemporary version of Betawi chair. More than a product design, it is a culmination of his exploration and research on the history of design, particularly in Indonesia.
In the wake of the Industrial Revolution, a large production of furniture took place. However, it was only towards the 19th century, when the competition between manufacturers started to emerge, that furniture makers began to realise the importance of the products’ aesthetical appearances. It soon became clear that designers do play a major role in the industry, and furniture design as a field, started to become widely known around the globe, including in Indonesia.
Aloysius Baskoro Junianto believes that to speak of the history of Indonesian design, is to look at several cross-cultural influences. The country has been familiar with the phenomenon of cultural hybridity since a very long time ago. One of its most appreciated designs, that is also a result of cultural hybridity, is the Betawi chair. There are several propositions regarding the history of this chair; some believe that it was originally redeveloped based on the chair designs introduced by a group of Austrian architects, whilst some others trust that the inspiration came from USA’s well-known Frank Lloyd Wright.
However, it is very likely that this European or American design was introduced by the Dutch to the Indonesian local furniture makers, who have came up with the idea of combining it with influences that derived from Chinese traditional chairs. Thus, Betawi chair could be considered as witness of history, of the early East-West encounter, which somehow constructed the identity of Jakarta.