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Design Proximity

08 Jun 2022 by AlvinT

Nearly every area of our lives are affected by interior design and several other type of design. From the moment we wake until we rest on our deathbed, design and its output are intertwined with our life. Some of those designs are useful for a longtime whether we are aware or not, and some others are utterly dispensable.

The ability for a design to be embedded in one’s life is what we consider as design proximity. The more attuned the design is to the needs of human--socially, culturally, physiologically, and so on-- the more intimate its relationship to human overtime and make permanent residency in human’s life.

We need design proximity to be infinitesimal to humans due to the climate doom we are facing,

To do so, we believe it started with design language because the amalgamation of creative approach towards problem-solving can be seen as design language. Where the more rich its vocabulary, the more used and exercised, the more it will be able to proliferate solutions.

Design language may be known as an overarching style that guides design or a set of one, but it’s more profound than what it looks. Design language is not equal only to a visual style but it also carries content that suggests, provokes, or leads users to various ideas such as brand ownership, usage familiarity, sense of urgency or nostalgia, new behavior triggers, and more.

It is important to craft a design language to have a design that carries meaningful suggestions to make it meaningful to people. Including designs for furniture products where it contributes 30% of greenhouse emissions. As we’ve mentioned in the beginning, the more meaningful it is the more a product is indispensable.

So how do we create a design language to increase design-human proximity?


It began with the ability to ask the “right” question. Because design language at its core contains the designer’s answers to a myriad of questions such as: how can my design be valued in people’s life? How can my design trigger conversation? What kind of conversation? Will my design be able to speak for an ideology? Create a movement perhaps? Send people to the future or reimagining the past?

It’s philosophy is quite similar to the commonly used How Might We method which was first introduced by Basadur at Procter & Gamble, and now is the rather compulsory process of innovation in prominent companies such as Google and IDEO. By asking, we trigger imagination and possibilities to answer the questions.

The answers to the questions will become the designer’s design language which will govern outputs like visual style, branding, production techniques, material use, shape in parts and whole, even marketing efforts.

In AlvinT, specifically in creating the Linger bench, we question how might a bench trigger curiosity and become more than just a sitting tool? How can we bring people together, converse, linger and question, or perhaps relook, of how Indonesian-made products might be? Yet the bigger importance lies on the questioning part, it has to be good in order to have good results. Like E. E. Cummings has said, “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.”

So how do we create these questions? Where does it come from?

It comes from the curiosity of someone who wears the shoes of an explorer. Curiosity bound to breed questions.

As we grow into a profession, let’s say as a furniture designer, we can become hyper focused on our own field. Thinking it’s our ultimate responsibility as a professional to truly understand what furniture is and how we can create it. Often, we cease to explore. But actually the good questions usually come from those who made the effort to reflect and doubt on what’s known upon the unknown.


Then, when we have explored the world, we have the capital to raise our questions, but for what cause? To which direction should we raise our questions? This should come from our intention. The cumulative of our experience in explorations, observations, craft, and even our childhood may build up our intention. Biased at its best, yet when used well will give our creation the “content” it needs and make your craft yours.

The intention makes a whole difference between one craft to the other. One furniture may be newly designed for the sake of novelty, the other strives to speak for a specific ideology.

Take example with Fuse Projects’ furniture. Yves Behar, as the founder of Fuse Projects, perhaps in part, has the intention to create products that emphasize sustainability and commercialism. It is his design language which is directed with intention. In the case of AlvinT’s Linger bench, we intend to create products that will add to the vocabulary of Indonesian design. Hence we highlight rattan materials and its lightness, along with its sizes as a statement of our view that Indonesian design is capable of ingenuity yet still feels authentic. Our intention was directed as a rally to form the said vocabulary of Indonesian design.

Design Proximity

Opus SoundBed by fuseproject

Design Proximity

Linger Bench in small size by alvinT


To the designer, including us, the culmination of questioning and seeking for intent, help us know who we are. Ideology that defines each of us however impermanent it is. It is a critical process towards growth. Because when we have found our ideology or belief, we’ll be more efficient and effective the next time problems knock on our door.

If we relook the case with Yves Behar, we know that his ideology in sustainability and commercialism governs his creation. In the end, the more he uses his design language, the more fluent he will be in solving problems in that particular area.

For AlvinT, we believe the quest to find ideology when done collectively by designers, say, Indonesian designers, can direct us to a wave of spirits that, if we zoom out our view, can help us define what Indonesian design is. Which in part expresses our hope for Indonesian design to have close proximity to the global audience and make an impact.

In conclusion, these processes, where we explore, inquire, direct our intention and form our ideology will craft a well-rounded design language that is rich with “substance”. It allows our design to be able to communicate to the users, society, and the world. Increasing proximity the more it is used, and making the value higher every time it’s encountered and responsible for its own existence.

Founded in 2006, alvinT is a Jakarta-based furniture brand started by Alvin Tjitrowirjo that amalgamates Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage and artisanal approach with contemporary sensibilities. Authenticity remains the driving force behind our innovation.While we revere tradition, we would like our products to stand as a testament of character in an increasingly homogenized world. As much as design should be seen, it should also be felt. All of our products are hand-made by skilled local artisans because we believe in delivering honest products that inspire genuine engagement, transcending the tethers of trend and time.alvinT furniture collections have been exhibited in various international exhibitions such as Milan Design Week, Stockholm Furniture Fair, Paris’s Maison et Objet, Tokyo’s Designart, and NYC Design week.


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