crowd control

February, 2011
surface asia, by choo ai ling

A crew of creative minds is the recipe for Malaysian design collective Tridi’s elegantly modern furniture and homewares.

Large-group collaboration can be a fraught process; while two heads are undoubtedly better than one, too many cooks are very likely to spoil the broth. In the case of Tridi Sdn Bhd, however, participants have had the good fortune of finding creative alchemy. A multi-displinary design partnership made up of Juteras, a design and build company; Living Space, a Thai home accessories concern; Trinity, a brand identity outfit; and award winning photographers, Studio DL, Tridi is the furniture, a lighting and product arm that designs for Juteras projects while working on small but exquisite collections for the retail sector.

The team’s first offering, Cloud 9 and Spring, debuted last year. The pieces draw upon the richness of Southeast Asia cultures, arts and crafts. In this instance, the designers were inspired by ancient Cirebon batik patterns of North Java, initially developed by a mystic guild of artisans for use in the Sultan’s palaces. Mega Mendung, a famous Cirebon batik motif of wispy geometric clouds, features largely throughout the range, which run the gamut from pillows to “bird cage” lamps. Of particular note are the trays, boxes and stools that feature the Mega Mendung motif in glossy “lacquerwrap”, a term the designers coined to describe the painstaking process of applying traditional Asian lacquer on wood as a finish. Spring features batik Chinese motifs against a striking base of attention-grabbing fuchsia, using “lacquerwrap” applied to ice buckets and tray tables.

Following the release of that range, Tridi was selected to exhibit at Asia Now, an exhibition curated by Design Boom at the Dwell on Design Fair in Los Angeles last June. More recently, they developed a range of paper Russian dolls for the Kaoshiong Design Festival 2010. A whimsical departure from their maiden collection, these decorative items used Russian Matryoshka dolls as a starting concept but adorned the shrinking components with Southeast Asian iconography like opera masks and diagrams lifeted from traditional Chinese medicine textbooks. According to Joseph Foo, one of the founders of Tridi, another series is slated for the second quarter of this year. If Tridi’s initial efforts are anything to go by, having the benefit of hugely talented pool of designer and the backing of their established founders will result in a beautifully balanced broth of ideas.