Floral veneer design wins Indonesian woman furniture award

Ibu Ria - prize-winning table design

Tony Bartlett is Forestry Research Program Manager with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). A version of this story was originally posted on the ACIAR website. ACIAR will host a session titled Equitable development: Improving livelihood benefits for smallholders in the forestry value chain  at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta on May 5 and 6. Follow @ACIARAustralia on Twitter

A table featuring an inlaid veneer floral design and crafted from walnut, maple and zebrano wood has led to international recognition for a woman furniture manufacturing student in a male-dominated sector.

Geraldine Oei Ria Oktavillia — in her final year at the PIKA College of Woodworking in Semarang, a coastal city in the Indonesian province of Central Java — won a week-long, study-abroad trip to Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology to refine her skills in furniture design.

She is one of four young Indonesians awarded — among 33 contestants for innovative furniture design — earlier this year as part of an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project on adding value in timber processing.

Students were asked to produce coffee table designs that could be created from plantation wood, mass produced and reflect furniture characteristics found in Jepara, a city about 80 km (50 miles) from Semarang.

Jepara is Indonesia’s historic center for furniture making and teakwood carving where 120,000 craftspeople work in the industry, with the value of furniture exports in Jepara reaching $120 million annually.

Oktavillia was honored for the flower blossom table in part due to its departure from Jepara tradition where veneer timbers are not used, unlike in China and Vietnam.

The Melbourne training opportunity, which was sponsored by both ACIAR and the Crawford Fund, gave her insight into furniture design industry in Australia and the importance of considering the practicality of the design of every component in a piece of furniture.

It must not only look good, but it should be structurally sound.

“Good quality furniture should be treated as a masterpiece, including the packaging and presentation of the furniture to the potential customers,” Oktavillia said.

At a recent annual meeting of ACIAR project partners Oktavillia and her three fellow prizewinners presented their furniture.

After explaining the basis for their particular designs and the benefits they received from the training in Australia, they answered questions from some of the Jepara furniture industry partners.

The hope is that this exciting initiative will open up new prospects for young furniture designers to play a greater role in enhancing the Jepara furniture industry.

The competition was aimed at building the ability of young professionals and fostering innovation in furniture design as part of ACIAR’s goal of enhancing livelihoods from agricultural research.

Farmers can get higher prices for the timber they grow if it can be used to produce such high-value products as exquisite furniture.

By Tony Bartlett, ACIAR’s Forestry research program manager

More information:

ACIAR project FST/2006/117 Improving added value and small medium enterprises capacity in the utilisation of plantation timber for furniture production in Jepara region, is led by theUniversity of Melbourne

YouTube video: Company profile of SMK PIKA Indonesia


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