Before I decided to move to Jakarta, my husband snapped a photo of a brightly decorated shop with ‘hot pink wooden rabbits’ in its front window. Aware of my penchant for all things ‘home’, he sent me the photo one cold winter’s day in Sydney; in the hope it would be the perfect ‘carrot’ that would entice me to move with the family to Jakarta at the end of that year.
I had always been optimistic about the potential to move to Jakarta, but there was something about the picture he sent, that enticed me to investigate Jakarta further. My curiosity was piqued and my interest in Jakarta took a new turn.
Mira Noordhoek Hegt is the founder of Le Souq; the very special home decor and design store whose ‘shop window’ and ‘hot pink rabbits’ were stored on my mobile phone for months prior to us arriving here. Unbeknownst to Mira, her window display would contribute to my decision to move from Sydney to Jakarta in the December of 2012.
Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to come to know Mira; the face behind the shop window. I’ve spent many hours in her three levelled, Le souq, both browsing and sourcing that ‘something special’ to make my new Jakarta house a home.
The atmosphere in Le Souq is very relaxed. I’m sure it is because of the
‘bright pops of colour’ and the spirit of ‘fun decorating’ that I’ve come to know as Mira’s signature style. A style, that for me, is synonymous with optimism for change and adventure!
Mira the face behind her window, is warm, generous of spirit, full of enthusiasm for Jakarta life and fun; not unlike her ‘pink rabbits’ that enticed me here!
Settle in, as Mira reveals the story behind her love of interiors, and her Jakarta Le Souq.
* Since writing, Mira has moved to the Netherlands. But since Indonesia is her second home she travels back and forth between the two countries. If you go to KOI Kemang you will see her there regularly updating the collections and decorations.
What brought you to Jakarta?
I came to Jakarta because of my husband’s posting, and I have already been here for 6 years!
What did you want to be when you were a child?
One of the things that seemed particularly appealing when I was a teenager was becoming a dancer after seeing the Musical Cats. I was so fascinated by the costumes, music and moves, but I am afraid that never happened haha!
Have you always worked in the homeware and design industries?
No I haven’t, I am actually a lawyer originally! In The Netherlands I also worked in recruitment and since I love networking, that was already a much better way of making a living. I started working in design when I lived in South Africa from 2005-2009, and when we moved to Indonesia in 2009, it was meant to be; with so much amazing craftsmanship around, it was clear that I could pursue this work here.
Where did the idea to open a shop in Kemang, South Jakarta come from?
I really missed a shop like this in Jakarta, a shop where you can get ideas for decorating your home, but also get fun accessories not costing the world. I enjoyed such shops so much in South Africa; we used to go for lunch there and visit fun decorating shops, sometimes with friends and family from abroad, having a fun and inspiring morning. So after a year I decided I should be the one to set up such a shop! It took me a year to prepare.
How did you choose the name Le Souq?
A friend from Amsterdam came up with this name; a Souq is an arabic market where you can buy a great variety of items and with my father being Egyptian I thought it was a good name for my new shop!
How would you describe the Le Souq design style?
It really is an eclectic mix of styles, with influences from all parts of the world where I have lived; Europe, the US, Africa and Asia. There are four other elements that are very important for me to like a product; it has to be comfortable, the product should be of good quality and made from natural materials and there must be fun touches. Don’t make life too serious!
How has Le Souq developed since it opened?
I think it has gone more towards interior decorating than just selling accessories; I learned a lot the last years about what works and what doesn’t in interior decorating.
Who shops at Le Souq?
Actually a very wide range of people and I am very proud of that. Japanese and Australian people are among the biggest groups of clients, but I am also very happy to see the group of Indonesian clients grow.
We love that you design in a range of materials. Why did you choose these materials?
There are such fantastic materials in Indonesia! I choose the (natural) ones that I like most, which are porcelain, recycled teak and mahogany wood, cow skins, ikat and cotton fabrics. I also love to up-cycle, so give old items a new purpose, like turning wooden doors into mirrors. I choose those because they are strong and beautiful.
We think it’s great that Le Souq products are locally made and designed. Can you tell us about the designers and craftspeople?
In the last four years we have established an amazing network of highly skilful suppliers. There is a wide variety, which makes it really interesting to meet with them; some Dutch ones, French, and a lot of Indonesians. Some became good friends. I just love to travel around Central Java to meet with all of them and design the new products, which I do at least twice or three times a year. Some of the products were already designed by them, but most of the products are designed by us at the moment.
Favourite ‘newly designed’ pieces?
I love my ceramic items with Jakarta cartoons. A bigger project I have, is expanding the range to other countries, and the whole range will be named the World Traveler Porcelains. We already designed the Netherlands, Japan and Bali. Bali is already for sale in Indonesia now. The whole idea is that every traveler wants to bring something home that captures the soul of the country he or she is visiting and the people that live there. The World Traveler series do that. Each cartoon represents a typical and important item for the country and its people.
Then I am also very proud of the products (cards, fabrics, wrapping papers) with our “Indonesian Range” designs, which have been drawn by Aras Ratri Kara. Aras is an Indonesian graduate from Tokyo Design Academy and works with me full time now, I am very proud of her.
Any new projects you are working on at the moment?
The ceramics mentioned previously, and I am expanding selling the products at other locations: Tugu Kunstkring Gallery, Menteng, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Gift Shop Mega Kuningan, and now Plaza Bali at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Terminal 2 (next to Starbucks).
Home or fashion trends you are following this year?
Not really, I usually just buy or make what I like, regardless of trends. However, we are building our own home in Holland, and this will be a bit fashionable, with black iron window frames and concrete floors.
Can you list 3 resources that you turn to regularly for creative inspiration?
Travelling is always inspiring! South Africa specifically, there are so many creative people there and beautiful inspiring places.
Art, I love art and it is something we love spending our money on.
Magazines; my favourites being House & Leisure – South Africa and Vogue Living – Australia and all Elle Decorations.
What does a typical day involve for you?
Contacting suppliers to check orders, contact with media (magazines, tv and blogs 🙂
spend some time at the shop and decorate if necessary, and if I have time, have coffee with a friend or go to the gym.
3 words to describe your Jakarta?
Vibey, Exotic and Hot
Book you are reading at the moment?
Bonita Avenue, a Dutch book. Such a good book, I wonder whether it has been translated into English already.
Music you are listening to?
All kinds of music, but I LOVE Goldfish, Alicia Keys and John Legend! Also, the KUDETA CD’s always a favourite.
Magazines you are reading?
I just bought Belle, the Australian magazine, and the other ones I described above. Oh, and actually all Elle Decorations are always good as well. I love the Indonesian, French, South African and Dutch ones.
Any tips for new expats wishing to decorate their new home in Jakarta?
Come to me haha! No I always say; start with the big furniture, tables, beds, sofas. When you have those, you can start buying the smaller accessories. Also, I always say, keep the big sofa’s and chairs simple, with plain fabrics, and then you can play around with the accessories in patterned fabrics.
Favourite place to take kids in Jakarta to eat or to play?
They love Koi! and me too, so there is a win win.
Favourite homeware store in Jakarta? After Le Souq of course.
I love Zara Home! Very good collection in Plaza Indonesia.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
I love to be at home when the kids come back from school in the afternoon. I love the movies and I have to admit, I love to go shopping and watch people at Plaza Indonesia 🙂
Where do you go to relax in this busy city?
The Dharmawangsa Hotel, at the pool.
KOI Kemang Gallery (2nd floor)
Jl. Kemang Raya no. 72B
Jakarta Selatan, 12730
Le Souq products can also be found at:
International Terminal Soekarno-Hatta Airport (Plaza Bali, next to Starbucks in T2 and in T3) ; Domestic Terminal Bali Airport (The Airport Shop)
Amankila Manggis Hotel
Intercontinental Hotel Jimbaran
Lucy’s Batik in Ubud
Alun Alun in Nusa Dua
The World Traveler Series ceramics : www.the-world-traveler.com
*Kenalkan: let me introduce
Words: Liz McClean and Mira Noordhoek Hegt Photography: Le Souq