SPECIAL REPORT

Hermès and an Indonesian Art Duo Create A Traffic-Stopping Window Display

by Li Haohan
09 Jul 2018

A fun, layered mash-up of art, design and commerce results from the collaboration between leading Indonesian artists-designers indiguerillas and French luxury purveyor Hermès

When we were invited to do the Hermès artist window, we were briefed that the annual theme would be ‘play’,” says Ms. Santi Ariestyowanti, one-half of the design duo indieguerilla. “We were excited as our work method was playful, so it fit well with our spirit.” When the Yogyakarta-based artists-designers finally saw the products, they realized they were headed towards the same aesthetic direction as the French luxury brand. The result of the collaboration is ‘The Joybringer’, currently on display at Hermes Liat Tower.

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Hermès windows are long-running traffic-stoppers not only for the products they endorse, but also for their elaborately, meticulously crafted sets – the result of carefully thought out collaborations with artists and designers. In them the displays tell a story, sometimes alluding to familiar narratives, beloved fairytales or collective memories that amplify the meaningfulness of the merchandize.   

This is not lost on indieguerillas. “It is a great honor to us to be invited to (participate) in this project,” Mr. Dyatmiko ‘Miko’ Bawono, the other half of the duo, admits. “We were very thrilled, and at the same time challenged to ‘up our game’.” For one, Hermès’ renowned craftsmanship set a very high standard for the artists to apply to their own production.

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But it was the playful aspect of the products that excited them even more: case in point, a clutch bag with a barrel bolt lock for closure. “This is akin to picking something we are familiar with, changing the function, and turning it into something unexpected and unique,” Mr. Bawono points out. He also delights in how the Hermès Chaîne d’Ancre Punk jewelry collection plays up the safety pin motif.

When we use safety pins, we try to hide them, making sure they are not visible. But in this jewelry line, they are highlighted, he emphasizes. “This spirit of play is very important to us, and we carry it in our everyday life. It helps our work, too, as it allows us to explore new ideas and find new possibilities.”

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  • IN GUERRILLA MODE
  • EXTRAVAGANT TRADITION
  • BEYOND CHILD’S PLAY

In Guerrilla Mode

Founded in 1999 by Mr. Bawono and Ms. Ariestyowanti as a graphic design firm, indieguerillas sought to be “constantly in guerrilla (mode) to find new possibilities” from the get-go. Ms. Ariestyowanti studied visual communication design in school, while Mr. Bawono did a degree in interior design, and by 2007, the couple had become full-time artists who also provided design services. 

“Design still plays a very important role (in our work) as it allows us to explore the use of unconventional media and techniques as part of our artistic statement. In addition to our background in visual effects and inter-media experimentation, our works are often recognized for using folkloric influences,” Mr. Bawono elaborates.

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“The unique intertwine between traditional values and contemporary culture has taken us to numerous important exhibitions around the globe,” Ms. Ariestyowanti adds. “We pursue the themes of identity and related social issues in our work, particularly as Javanese living in the era of globalism.” She adds that they are also interested in consumerism as a theme, although their position is towards better self-awareness of one’s desires and actions.

  • IN GUERRILLA MODE
  • EXTRAVAGANT TRADITION
  • BEYOND CHILD’S PLAY

Extravagant Tradition

For ‘The Joybringer’ collaboration with Hermès, indieguerillas began with the brief. They then started to research and develop concepts, proceeded with brainstorming and sketching until they arrived at the final sketch. They then broke it down into a series of technical processes.

“The production was done in Jogja,” Mr. Bawono explains. “We made an elaborate choice of materials to use, as well as the process of (execution). For example, the brass pieces used in the installation were custom-made by craftsmen in Jogja.” A master craftsman trained in jewelry-making hand-tooled the delicate brass flowers in the same way as the elaborate pieces worn by traditional Javanese dancers. 

Other pieces, such as the antlers, were cast in sand molds; some wooden items were crafted out of Indonesian teak wood, while others in local coconut timber. Maple wood from the US was sourced from their local supplier to provide contrasting qualities. “Somehow, this combination of different materials and different textures works together within the space.” 

  • IN GUERRILLA MODE
  • EXTRAVAGANT TRADITION
  • BEYOND CHILD’S PLAY

Beyond Child’s Play

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“Our childhood played a huge role in influencing the window installation,” Mr. Bawono reveals. “One of the things I recall from my childhood was my experience learning to ride the bicycle. It was the beginning of my interest in various vehicles – bicycles, cars, and all kind of toys related to transportation. The brightly colors of all those toys influenced the cloros we used.”

For her part, Ms. Ariestyowanti turned to her grandmother’s inventiveness and creativity. “I remember my grandmother as very creative and hands-on. She used to fix things in the house to improve them. For example, we had an old rattan chair that was not very comfortable, and one day, she stitched a cushion on it.

 

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“Later on, she also added wheels to the legs of the chair. Not only did it become more comfortable, it could also swivel and move around easily. So, the spirit of ‘play’ is not only about kids’ play, but it can also manifest in using old materials, injecting new purposes in them, and making them into something else, something better.”

“We certainly learned a lot from collaborating on ‘The Joybringer’; it put us in situations where we had to explore techniques and possibilities in order to achieve the best results.” Whenever they entered a hardware shop to source for materials, they had to look beyond what was before them. “We had to see possibilities.”