A house that feels like home.
It really is an easy thing to find a good house. But to make your house a home is not only about great looking things you find in home and living stores. A home should be a representation of who you are. It should be filled with stories that have been made by the people who live in it. And this is what we feel when we came to Ayu Larasati and Akbar’s nest. a home that represents the people who live in it.
We’ve been in love with Ayu’s ceramic works for months, and we finally met her for the first time at our Whimsical Garden with Ayang Cempaka on October 2014. Her passion of making ceramics with her two hands amazed us. Ayu and her little family moved to Indonesia last year, after living in Toronto, Canada for more than 10 years.
We finally had a chance to visit her lovely nest and studio last month. Greeted with such a warm welcome. We were surprised that Ayu had already prepared a homemade casserole and Akbar, served us with his grilled chicken and satay. You know…nothing beats a warm welcome and homemade food.
Thank you so much, Akbar, Ayu and Wira. :)
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3 words to describe you and Akbar
We love spending time outdoor and being in nature (avid outdoor people). We love objects with history (curated vintage). We love working with our hands and appreciate craftsmanship (analog/DIY)
3 words to describe your house
Mid-century, Curated Travel-finds, and DIY
What do you guys do?
Akbar is a construction Engineer/ Property Developer, and I’m a potter and Ceramic Artist.
What is important to you in a living space?
Our living space is very important to us. It is a work-in-progress, ever-changing and growing together with us as individuals; be it a functional aspect or decorative elements. When Wira was smaller, 70% of our living room is utilized as his play space so we could keep him close while doing our daily task. As he grows older, he requires a bit more of his own privacy and his play space now concentrated in his room and with only few drawers dedicated for arranging his toys.
Our living space grows with us. When we first moving together, it was the time when we graduated from college, our apartment was filled with IKEA mass-produced items. As we grow and learn, we start valuing the process of making and craftsmanship. We both hone in our craft skills to the process of making with wood, metals, plastic and ceramics. We question the very world of industrial manufactured and mass-production and its effect in our economy, environments and society. I guess it reflects and extends to the way we decor our home. Although we still have pieces of IKEA furniture from the earlier times, we slowly outgrew the IKEA aesthetic as we cultivated more a thoughtful and meaningful one-of-a kind relationship with objects that surround us every day.
On a less functional note, our living space represents our journey and story. The space has to feel like a space that is uniquely us, for example: memoirs captured through photographs, visuals, postcards from travels and friends shown on the wall is central for our decor. For the most part, illustrations and art were trades with my ceramic pieces when we met local illustrators and artists during bazaars.
Who’s in charge of the interior and decor?
We both are very particular when it comes to the decor of the house. We are also very patient in waiting and looking for particular furniture that has a piece of history. With a more artistic background, I would suggest things that can be done to improve our space but when it comes to execution, Akbar who is more realistic and practical, would have to approve upon the idea itself before it’s coming to reality. Also, with our experience working with our hands and tools, we find it very satisfactory creating and making a custom piece that is functional and suits our changing needs.
Thing in the house that you treasure the most?
It has got to be the armchair. The armchair was found near the dumpster at my first working place in Toronto while I was also studying industrial design at my second year. I saw it being dumped and it was in perfect condition other than the leg needs some minor repair. I hauled the chair to her then studio-office and my co-worker helped me repaired the legs. It was such a beautiful armchair and it was being used at the office before finally we brought it home. We treasure the chair very much; it always reminds us of the first job I had in Toronto. :)
When you’re in the house, do you like to play music? What’s your favorite song/band?
We play different genre for different occasions but mostly we like listening to alternative pop/rock our favourite band includes The Lumineers, Vampire Weekend, The Young Giant, Bombay Bicycle Club, Black Keys, and our recent favourite song is Stolen Dance by Milky Chance.
When you’re alone in the house, and you don’t need to do the pottery work. What would you do?
Normally when I don’t do pottery work, I like to reorganize the studio while I have the time. Pottery work can be a really messy, muddy and dusty. I think as a person who likes to see things always neat and clean, running a pottery studio is pretty much impossible job to do. So whenever I have the time not doing any work, I’d like spending it in finding inspirations on how to innovatively and effectively arranging tools and materials around the studio. I also enjoy reading books (lately science fictions) and have a cup of tea using handmade cups that other ceramic artists made or if my son is already coming home from school, my favourite is to spend the late afternoon with him.
Can you share us some tips on decorating a small space living
I think for small space to work it has to be open and airy also utilize some invisible room divider like area rugs or sofa to define spaces (living room, dining room, etc). Utilizing as much as vertical areas for storage is also one of the key. Colours are also important; darker shades ignites heaviness while whites and bright colours create more openness; a balanced combination of both darker colours and brighter ones will brings a great palate of colour play that will compliment small spaces.
You have two DIY shelves. Could you tell us a bit about where you bought the materials and how you built it?
We built the shelves in the studio out of concrete brick and plank of wood. We wanted to be able to move the shelves around when we need to; so the shelve has to be freestanding. The concrete brick we bought from a homebuilding supply store and the wooden plank was from a local wood supply store. It doesn’t need any fasteners to assemble; just by stacking the concrete brick, and the wooden plank, we got ourselves a new shelf.
The same with the pipe shelving, we went to Pasar Kenari to buy the required pipes for the support and went to the closest metal stop to have the pieces assembled. Once those done, all we have to do is mounting the brackets for the pipe shelving to the wall and add the wooden plank. There’s a lot of information online on different design and models of this pipe shelving.
Where did you find your decorative items?
We collect our decorative items through our travels mainly or encounters we experienced. It doesn’t have to be something that we bought; it could be something that we find; like Akbar’s first portaging experience was really unforgettable and was such a huge learning curve for his outdoor skills and he brought home rocks from the lake he encountered. We collect them in my ceramic bowl as mementos of his journey. Our last travels to NYC, we found a copy of 1915 The New York Times Mid-Week Pictorials with all pages still intact, while we were going to a flea market. We were blown away by the quality of the copy; we hang it in our living room and looking at it makes us think how much human has evolved since the time that news paper was published.
Do you have any favorite home living site/magazine/blog?
I love browsing around Design Sponge and Apartment Therapy for inspirations for our living space. I specifically like the home tours and the before and after home projects and renovations; I want to see if we are able to do it ourselves. I also have been finding instagram is a great source of inspiration. Looking of photos that people like you and me, doing around their house and what they are capable of in creating a beautiful space is quite amazing.
What makes you love pottery?
I fell in love with pottery during the second year of my university year the moment I stepped into the studio I really felt I was belonged there. But it was when I had my fulltime job as a product designer that I began to focus on making ceramic objects. It was important for me to spend some hours to make something with clay; I was itching to touch the clay if I didn’t. But as I continue focusing, a lot of aspects of clay required so much of your commitment and attentions. Clay has an acute sensitivity when drying too fast or too slow and when is not being handled appropriately. Clay is very demanding and I think it’s what I like the most when working with clay. You can have a reciprocal relationship with it; it’s like an animate object. Clay will give you feedback: good or bad depending how properly you hand them.
Could you tell us about the interesting mug that you got at a ceramic swap?
My most exciting mug swap was with Helen Levi, a ceramic artist based in Brooklyn New York. It was exciting too to be able to see her working space! I always love pieces that she made and I think mostly because we both the makers of our products, there are some aspects (joy/challenges/satisfactions) that we could relate to one another. I also has been trading pieces during last Christmas market, with talented local designer and makers, Contour Indonesia and a talented illustrator @nengiren. These pieces are shown in our living room.
You do a pottery making birthday party for Wira. That’s so interesting! but actually since what age do kids can try clay making activities?
Yes! We are so looking forward to it! I think when the kids can hold their attention span for about 2 hours and when they can follow a step-by-step instruction that is probably starting the age of 5/6, they can try doing some activities with clay. We’re thinking to do something very easy and simple, like making animal figures. I have never done anything with clay that involved a large group of kids before, so this one will be interesting for sure!
Could you tell us about that painting you hang on the living room?
The painting was done when we move to Indonesia from Toronto, I made many paintings that I left at friends’ apartment in Canada (they were glad we couldn’t bring the paintings). I usually did a painting for a new home/apartment, it was like our tradition. So he brought home a blank canvas for me and I bought some acrylic paints left over from Canada. I was doing some colour blocking techniques, shapes, composition, plus gradation of colours and was really having fun creating it! And glad that it happened to match our sofa.
Please finish this sentence: A home should be…..
Home should feel like a place that represents you and have the character of you. A home should be the place that is central to your life and central to the people you love and the people who love you. In it, they support and promote the wellness of each other, mentally, physically, and spiritually.