Interior design Shirley Gouw talks about her involvement with the family business and the happiest dining experience in her life.
Elite Graha Cipta has enjoyed much success selling furniture, lighting and accessories since its establishment in 1997. The success, according to Shirley, lies in the company’s always being at the forefront of the latest trends in the world of interior design.
“We always try to be different by observing the trend and bringing in new collections to Elite that reflect these trends,” she says.
The demand from clients is vary. So, it is important to provide the best selections across every range of style; modern, semi classic and classic. She explains that global trends increasingly play an important role in influencing lifestyles in Indonesia. “Regardless of client preference, be it modern or classic furnishing, your home really reflects your style. And interior design is really a lifestyle now!”
Shirley sees the world of interior design and furniture as the ultimate trendsetter. Even the world of fashion, she says, has branched out to encompass furniture. “Prestigious brands such as Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren and Armani are among fashion designer houses that have branched out with furniture collections,” she remarks.
Shirley had spent considerable years of living in London and New York, the cities of which she studied and worked in the field of interior design. After graduated from Chelsea College of Art & Design in 1998 and Inchbald School of Design in 2000, both in London, Shirley furthered her education at Parsons School of Design in New York from 2000 to 2003.
Upon her return to Jakarta in 2003, she joined Elite Graha Cipta as the head of interior designers. She is also responsibility for buyer and media relations. She shares the work with her mother, L. Shinta, who with her husband, Jimmy Gouw, started the company from the scratch.
From humble beginnings, Elite has become a leader in the industry, in no small part thanks to the mother-daughter power couple at the top. “The word impossible is not in our dictionary and we are always ambitious to grow the business at best,” Shirley avers.
Having inherited both her passion for entrepreneurial and interior design from her parents, Shirley grew up surrounded by objects of interior design while taking her mother as the paragon.
Despite her busy workload, Shirley always finds time for her two-year-old daughter, Dauphine Alix (Princess). Every morning she sets aside an hour to play with her daughter before diving into the hectic world of business.
When the time comes for a holiday, Bali is Shirley’s best destination. “It’s not too far, so I can take Princess along with me. She enjoys the sea breeze in Bali. But I don’t take her when I travel to Europe and North America, particularly when I travel on business. It’s hard for me to divide my attention,” Shirley admits.
For overseas travel destination, Shirley favours New York best. “It is like a big playground where I can find inspiration for my work as an interior designer.” Indeed, her passion for semi classic style is inspired by interiors of Park Avenue Apartments in New York.
“As Jakarta is my home, where all my families are, I consider London as my second home owing to its friendly folks and pleasant atmosphere,” she says. “I also like to stroll along the shore in Nice – Paris when I go to Europe.”
But when it comes to food, any dishes from Central Park Boat House restaurant in New York can make up the glorious and happiest dining experience in her life. “Summer is the best season to dine in at this exquisite eatery. The food and the view of Central Park overlooking the lake offer a perfect harmony that will charm many diners.
“Pasta or fettuccini carbonara with garlic bread and mushroom soup served in this restaurant really tickle my palate,” she asserts.
Whenever Shirley travels – be it business or pleasure – food is something she looks forward to. “Appreciating local cuisine is where you learn more about a culture.”
She is also keen on Japanese cuisine. “New York has many specialty Japanese restaurants. Yakitori places in New York, for instance, serve the best yakitori in the world. Here, in Jakarta, I like to spoil my palate for Japanese main courses at Gourmet Garage.”
Many of her favourite foods in Jakarta are not served in a fancy restaurant, but at small kiosk in Chinatown. She is particularly fond of the fish head curry at Medan Baru Restaurant in Krekot, near Pasar Baru. “While Bakmi Orpa and Bakmi Aheng are where I go for the city’s most delectable noodle,” she says.
By Aulia Rachmat Sungkar. published in Maximillian, October-November 2009.