Raffles Jakarta pays homage to famous Indonesian artist

Dubai-based design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates unveils its designs for Raffles Hotel in Jakarta and pays a tribute to Hendra Gunawan, one of Indonesia’s greatest painters.

Hospitality interior design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates has completed the new 173-room Raffles – the first in Indonesia – creating an “Ode to Hendra Gunawan”. Combining the colorful spirit of the beloved Indonesian artist, poet and sculptor, with the nostalgic elegance of classic design, Raffles Jakarta explores different ways of creative reinterpretation.

“Believed to be one of Indonesia’s greatest painters, Hendra’s personal style and innovative approach to his art became an iconic thread throughout the hotel’s interior design,” says David T’Kint, lead designer and partner at HBA, currently heading the Dubai office. “Explosions of immense colour amidst a backdrop of golden tones transform the everyday hotel experience into an exploration of art.”

David T’Kint, lead designer and partner at HBA

According to T’Kint, the client’s brief was simple – the hotel shouldn’t be just another 5 star property and it should pay a tribute to one of Indonesia’s greatest artists.

“The owner of Ciputra World, the complex in which Raffles Jakarta is located, is Pak Ciputra, an Indonesian entrepreneur who is also the biggest private art collector of Gunawan’s works. We spent a lot of time analyzing his artwork to understand its DNA. Multiple characteristics stood out, such as the bold use of colours, the very recognisable pencil stroke, the body outlines, the subjects, and the background landscape amongst others. All these elements were reinterpreted and diffused throughout the hotel. The design team also paid homage to the original Raffles Singapore, dating back to 1887, which showcased a distinct colonial architecture. Elements of this style were also translated into features of several areas within the property,” explains T’Kint.

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Large artwork on the walls and ceilings are creative replicas of Hendra’s paintings

Upon entry, the lobby and reception greets guests with a sense of grandeur and elegance. Warm golden toned marble is contrasted with rich veins of onyx from floor to ceiling, creating a canvas within the space, and is a recurring detail throughout the hotel. Guests are invited to sit upon the elongated, 4m chaise lounge to admire the colourful collection of hand-blown glass that transforms the ceiling into a sculptured piece of art.

The vividness of colour and expressive use of line in Hendra’s paintings are captured in furnishings and lighting fixtures in the lobby. Large installations of artwork on the walls and ceilings are creative replicas of Hendra’s paintings hand selected by the owner Pak Ciputra from his private collection.

“All colours used within the property were inspired by Hendra’s artworks. To highlight the boldness of such tones, the background tones selected were neutral – in either warm beiges or crisp greys -with the exception of carpets which are vividly colorful, this applies to the floors, walls and ceilings. The rooms and suites have been toned down with less usage of colours, as its function is to provide a relaxed residential atmosphere.”

Writer’s Bar

Adjacent to the lobby is the Writer’s Bar, where the playful and bespoke design tells the story of Hendra’s early childhood experiences and his love of colour and nature. The ceiling is sculpted with showering crystals while vibrant fish swim through the custom made carpet below.

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“All pieces of furniture installed were selected to express a design language in line with Gunawan’s. As per his art, quite a few pieces are bold and stand out. Examples include the very long banquette in the lobby, the tall back chairs in the Writer’s Bar and the red and rust tones of the seating in the Arts Café, which is an all-day dining restaurant. All spaces have their own flair and atmosphere.


“One of my favorites, not because of the style, but because it is so successfully different, is the Writers’ Bar lounge area. This lobby lounge is truly one-of-a-kind, based on a legend, which says that in the beginning of his career Gunawan would find inspiration sitting around a pond in the countryside of his native Java. The carpet is a reinterpretation of the pond and its Koi fish, while the ceiling pays homage to the original Raffles in Singapore from which two very tall crystal chandelier cascade into the water, representing the downpours during the monsoon season in Indonesia. The walls are a blow-up of one of Gunawan’s artworks set behind a series of partially opened windows which express the creation of a piece of art.”

Guests are invited to sit on the elongated, 4m chaise lounge

Touches of Raffles’ romantic and classical architectural details are felt throughout the hotel and are especially evident in the lobby, ballroom, meeting room and guestrooms. These details are reintroduced with a touch of modern refinement and elegance, combining the lush nature of Indonesia with the timeless design of Raffles.

Superior guestroom offers spectacular views

The guestrooms represent the artist’s retreat, whereby the subtle collaboration of art and luxury meet, fusing an air of superior relaxation. The bedroom is kept separate from the lounge making each room feel like a suite. Warm beige stone and wood are combined within the millwork and flooring creating a complimenting backdrop to the colourful tones of the furniture and accessories.

With the exception of the chandeliers, which were produced by Preciosa, big name in the lighting industry from the Czech Republic, all items were produced locally. This includes furniture, carpets and light fittings amongst others and one of the key suppliers was Saniharto.

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