With a 4,500 square-metre production facility located in Solo in Central Java, furniture company, Tabu Design, has been specializing in crisp, contemporary furniture creations for a decade. Over that time they have been developed a reputation for reliable customer service and export-quality products with eye-catching designs. Having recently completed the interiors for a high-end villa complex in upmarket Umalas, Bali, we caught up with Tabu Design’s Spanish director Fernando Heras Varela for a chat.
Bali Style: What makes TABU design different from all the other furniture design companies in Indonesia?
Tabu Design: Before starting production in 2004, we had many years of experience in the Sourcing and Quality Control Business. The experience instilled a sense of strict specifications and compliance with standards that we have implemented in factory from day one. This has helped a lot in focusing on production in versatility, and being able to produce for shop installations, restaurants and hospitality projets, where design production and project management merge with accuracy and precision. Design wise, we dare, as a rule, to push our own interpretations of current trends; based always on our specific finishes and using the available traditional materials we always try to bring something new.
Bali Style: How would you describe your style of furniture design?
Tabu Design: Contemporary. We stick to the good raw materials present in Indonesia and the huge design culture we find here. From the point, we continuously design based on the current trends and customer requirements. You always have a backbone styles and the tendencies that evolve from them. You can do classic, modern or electric- the key is the right interpretation and the evolution of your style to catch the trend line.
Bali Style: What types of wood and other materials do you use in furniture production?
Tabu Design: We love using a range of Indonesian timbers-each type of wood must be applied to the right piece. We also use imported timber, for example, in our latest project in Umalas-a high end villa complex-it was all done with maple wood.
Bali Style: Where does the wood come from? Is it an environmentally sustainable source?
Tabu Design: We always source from certified companies. There is no other option for this.
Bali Style: How important are environmentally friendly practices in your company philosophy?
Tabu Design: We not only try to comply with environmental regulations but, also social practices, going beyond the existing requirements in light of our own European standards.
Bali Style: How much of your production is export and how much for domestic buyer?
Tabu Design: Export is still the biggest volume.
Bali Style: Which countries are the biggest buyers of your furniture?
Tabu Design: It is quite diversified. We sometimes have single orders from various regions, but we also have a very significant number of faithful clients with a smaller but steady volume. Europe is still our main market, but some Asian countries are coming to strong.
Bali Style: Are demands for furniture exports increasing or decreasing?
Tabu Design: Changing. If you keep doing the same things, they decrease, but if you tune in with the market needs, there are still important opportunities to explore.
Bali Style: Do you consider that your designs have a special ‘Indonesian’ character?
Tabu Design: Somehow, yes, there is always something uniquely Indonesian. We love this country and what it brings to us in every aspect. I think that shows in the final product.
Bali Style: How does Indonesia compete in the global furniture market against countries like China and Vietnam?
Tabu Design: We are having a hard time. The problem is the lack of supporting industries. High import duties make it very difficult to explore using new materials because they are not available or are too expensive. In China, you have a huge network of related metal, plastic, glass industries supplying the furniture industry. Here in Indonesia, that doesn’t exist so we have to keep playing with the same cards all the time.
Bali Style: Do you market your furniture at international trade shows? Which one?
Tabu Design: IFEX ( Indonesia International Furniture Expo 11-14 March www.ifexindonesia.com). For the first time this year we joined IFEX. It seems that there has been an issue between the organizers. We have chosen that one that keeps the ususal location for the fair at Kemayoran. (IFFINA the International Furniture and Craft Fair Indonesia 14-17 March this year will be held in Senayan-ed www.iffinaindonesia.com).
Bali Style: Are these trade shows helpful in your marketing?
Tabu Design: Very helpful-not in direct sales, but it is a very efficient way to get the pulse of the market and the ideas of our clients.
Bali Style: What is your personal furniture piece of furniture?(Not necessarily one of your own designs)
Tabu Design: I love chairs, the most difficult piece to make. In general I am moved by Gio Ponti and his simple solutions, very much in vogue now.
Bali Style: Who is the most influential furniture designer for you, in the world?
Tabu Design: Influence is a question of exposure and that is given, normally the support of big corporations. I personally love what I see going on with Spanish designers for their uncompromised lines and the highly technical approach they take towards beauty.