Biyan Wanaatmadja is a renowned Indonesian designer whose chic, elegant clothes have graced the shoulders of high-profile socialites in the region. Biyan Living includes home interior items, accessories and imported rare perfumes.
WHY DO YOU LIKE TO LIVE IN JAKARTA?
Three words describe the city: energy, diversity, opportunity. The vibrant metropolis has made the city an increasingly “happening” place. I favour Jakarta above other cities nationwide for the opportunities it provides to grow, as the city has paved the way for many professional careers and businesses. At least to me, the city has left a reminiscence of my 26-year career journey in fashion.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST FRUSTRATION OF JAKARTA LIFE?
In spite of all the amenities and facilities the city has to offer, I often get frustrated at the lack of properly integrated infrastructure. This includes both public transportation and the organizational structure of many state and private institutions and businesses. Even though it has made many advances, Jakarta is still considered a disorganized city.
HAVE YOU LIVED IN OTHER CITIES BEFORE?
I spent 10 years studying in Düsseldorf, Germany, and in London, where I earned my degrees in fashion at Müller & Sohn Privat Mode Schule and the London College of Fashion in 1977 and 1982, respectively. To learn more about cultural diversity in addition to gaining more experience within the fashion realm, I spent a year in Florence from 1982 to 1983. The proper infrastructure in the three cities and how the people appreciate the art of living amazed me. I really miss the culture of concert- and theatre-going.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BUILDING IN JAKARTA?
The landmark buildings of the old city of Jakarta are both charming and aesthetically inspiring. I especially like the three museums in Fatahillah Square; Wayang Museum, Jakarta History Museum and Museum of Ceramics and Fine Arts. Their architectural style preserves Indonesia’s history and is part of our rich culture and heritage.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE EATERY?
I don’t have any particular favourite, but one attractive thing about living in Jakarta is that you can easily find a good variety of traditional home-cooked dishes everywhere. They are simply irresistible.
WHAT LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS CAN YOU SHARE?
Jakarta has been experiencing significant progress in its arts scene. Exhibitions of great paintings and artworks have been taking place much more often, raising hopes that the city will one day have a great museum of Indonesian modern art, just like MoMA in New York. With all the artistic treasures that we have, there’s no reason why we can’t go in that direction.
WHERE DO YOU SHOP?
I travel a lot, so I don’t have any specific local preference, except for great books and magazines at Aksara, Kemang (South Jakarta).
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE WEEKEND LIKE?
A great weekend for me is being home; laid back in front of the TV screen, reading books and magazines while listening to classical music or catching up on things that I have missed during the week. Above all, I always make time while at home to play with my three dogs.
By Aulia Rachmat, published in The Peak Magazine Indonesia, March-April 2009.
Photo: collection of Biyan Wanaatmadja