The Jakarta Post
Visitors explore Maison&Objet in Paris, France on Jan. 20. (JP/Keshie Hernitaningtyas)
Participating in international trade shows is perhaps the easiest way to expand your market and network, according to two young interior designers exhibiting at the biannual Maison&Objet, which runs until Tuesday.
“If you’re looking to start your own brand and company, it’s important to make people see your products, interact with them and buy them,” said founder of Amsterdam-based Pikaplant, Daniel Sutjahjo, whose parents hail from Surabaya, East Java.
Daniel, who has been living in Netherlands for 25 years, said that since he started the business in 2015, he had participated in Maison&Objet five times.
“I’m really happy with this trade show; I’m planning to exhibit here again in September. For us it’s a good fair; every time we come here we meet the right people, make good sales. There’s no reason to stop doing it,” he told The Jakarta Post at his booth on Saturday, adding that he had begun with smaller fairs prior to participating in big trade shows. “It’s important to show your products to people. At our first local fair, we sold maybe only 30 of these, two of other products. When you can do that, then you feel validation.”
Anne de Jongh poses with her rattan products at her brand Jonghlabel's booth at Maison&Objet on Jan. 20. (JP/Keshie Hernitaningtyas)
Meanwhile, for Amsterdam native Anne de Jongh, whose brand Jonghlabel plays with rattan material manufactured in Cirebon, West Java, being an exhibitor allows her to focus more on her work.
“Being a participant in fairs is important because people have to know me and the brand. It’s also good connecting. Since I run the business by myself, I don’t have time to write many emails,” she said, adding that this was her second time participating at the Maison&Objet.
Working on things you believe in is also important for aspiring designers seeking to go global, said Daniel, who previously worked with many different companies to do different projects.
“At a certain point, I wanted to do something I really believe in. I then talked to my business partner about what we can make that we really love. We chose Pikaplant [automatic plant watering products that seek to make plant-keeping an easy-peasy] because we want to combine green and sustainable living with something that can improve people’s lives, well-being and health; and of course make beautiful things as well.”
Anne, who studied industrial design engineering, shares similar passion on what she does, which started when she helped repair her grandfather’s old chair.
“I’m really passionate about crafts, ceramics and glass. When I was working on the chair, I wonder whether I can modernize it by putting new patterns and new perspectives? I find it pity that this knowledge is disappearing and seen as old-fashioned. By modernizing it, I hope people will be interested again in this old technique,” she said.
“Some of my customers find it difficult to believe that the product is rattan; they think it’s wood, but it’s so light. They have no idea the material can be used this way; they like the innovation.”
Pikaplant products, automatic plant watering products that seeks to make plant-keeping an easy-peasy, are seen on display at the brand's booth at Maison&Objet on Jan. 20. (JP/Keshie Hernitaningtyas)
Stay focus and be bold
“Going global is difficult because [the market] is so big, hence focus is important,” advised Daniel, whose company currently has a distribution network of 350 resellers across 21 countries. “Remember that as a designer, you are not really trained to face certain challenges like logistics, setting up production and the financial side. Common sense is important.”
Meanwhile Anne suggested aspiring designers to just be impulsive. “Just do it. After I decided to set up production in Indonesia, I immediately started contacting people. Sometimes it’s a success, sometimes it isn’t; but it’s a learning experience. Just go for it if it’s your goal.” (asw)
Paragraph two, four and eight in this article have been edited.