A couple of weeks back we posted the story, A Visual Guide to Jakarta’s Shopping Bazaars. We featured a beautiful copper tray in this post made by talented local craftsman, Pak Denny of The Iron Workshop.
Today’s ajb post is all about Pak Denny; the man responsible for beautiful homewares that have made their way into the homes of many across Jakarta (and beyond). Pak Denny has been a regular stall holder at the bazaars of Jakarta since their inception in the early 2000’s. As a result Pak Denny has built a reputation amongst local and expat clients alike as an affable, reliable and talented craftsman.
Curiously, there appears to be an unofficial list of Indonesian-made items that (many) expat women take with them when they leave Jakarta. On this list you are likely to find a wooden durian by Le Souq, a piece of porcelain tableware by Sepiring Indonesia, a length of batik tulis fabric, a leather piece by Gitte Baker, a timber furniture piece made by a craftsperson from Jl. Kemang Timur and at least one piece of work by Pak Denny.
In the true spirit of celebrating local, we invite you to meet the maker. So, make yourself a cuppa, get comfy in your chair and let us introduce you to Pak Denny of The Iron Workshop.
*Kenalkan Pak Ade Yuyun Rahayu (‘Pak Denny’)
Firstly Pak, where did your ‘nickname’ Pak Denny come from?
When I first started selling to expats in Jakarta no-one could say my name properly. So one day, a client of mine, a lady from the USA, decided that she would call me ‘Pak Denny’. This name has stayed with me ever since. Only my family calls me by my proper name, Ade Yuyun.
Where are you originally from?
I grew up in a town in West Java province called Garut. It is located about 75km south east of Bandung. I lived there until I was 15 years old.
How did you learn your skill of metalwork?
At the age of 15 years, I moved to Tangerang (a city approx. 25 km west of Jakarta) and remained there until I was 28 years of age. During this time my Uncle, Paman Pudin, taught me about ironwork. At the same time I worked in a gallery called Galleri Rumah Bagus (1990 – 1991). I made candleholders, room accessories and standard lamps. My passion for my craft really developed during this time.
After Tangerang I moved to Yogyakarta in Central Java for 3 years. Yogyakarta is a city known for its skilled craftspeople so it was there that I really nurtured my techniques at making handicrafts, mostly out of iron but sometimes timber.
How did you start your business?
In 2000 I returned to Jakarta. At this stage I could not afford a shop so I sold ‘door to door’ and by ‘word of mouth’. Then I came up with an idea. With my (almost) broken-down car I would drive to the affluent area of Pondok Indah, in South Jakarta. There, I would park on the side of a busy road and set up my ‘shop’. I would use the roof and bonnet of my car to display my merchandise to passersby. On the roof I would put different plates, candleholders and lanterns. On the bonnet I would put other items that I had made. Over time I gained regular customers, but often I would be sent away by the security guards in the area. Without a fuss, I would pack up my things and then drive to another location close by. I would then set up again and my customers would find me.
With time, customers (mostly expatriates) would ask for bespoke pieces to be made. I would listen closely to what they wanted. I learnt that you must do a good job, listen to the client, be reliable and produce what was ordered because without doing this my business would not succeed.
I began to look through magazines for design ideas too so that I always had something interesting for people to buy. In approximately 2004, the first bazaars of Jakarta began. This gave me a chance to show my products to the wider expat audience.
When did you set up your shop space in Cilandak Selatan?
Four years ago I established my shop in the area of Cilandak in Jakarta’s south. I picked this area because many expats live in South Jakarta. I really enjoy where my shop is located and it is my long-term plan to stay in the same spot.
Do you have any plans for more shop spaces?
I would also like to set up a shop in BSD Serpong, an area located south west of Jakarta. In BSD there is a growing middle class who like my work.
What inspires you?
Through my uncle and by working with many people throughout my life, I am learning all the time.
Are there other craftspersons in your family?
Although my father was a policeman, he also organised the delivery of handicrafts to shops. I guess you could say he was a ‘distributor’.
My maternal uncle, Paman Pudin, was a metal craftsperson and he is the one who taught me my craft. My older brother Pak Harry, is a craftsperson in timber. He has a shop nearby on Jl. Kemang Timur and he learnt his skill in a place called Katen in Central Java.
What are your favourite things to make?
I really like making iron chairs, beds and tables. Designing and making bigger items is most enjoyable as this means maximum work is required. This gives me a lot of time to learn about the processes whilst working on the project. I like the feeling of always learning – I am always learning by doing.
Where do your source your materials?
Most of my iron is from Tangerang and Bogor. I have to buy my copper new and I normally get it from the Glodok area of Kota Tua (North Jakarta). I source my aluminium from East Jakarta. Many of my smaller lanterns are made at my shop in Cilandak Selatan, but most of the larger items are made in my workshop in Tangerang.
What proportion of the iron metal that you use comes from recycled materials?
As an estimate, about 60% of the iron I use is new and the rest is from recycled materials.
Who works with you?
Although I still make many things, I now have 6 members in my team. This means that I can stay at my shop to meet clients and discuss their needs.
What is your favourite piece?
My favourite piece is made from a ventilation ceramic brick that was salvaged from an old Dutch house in Kota Tua. I’ve used the brick as the centrepiece of a candelabra.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of my work ethic and the fact that I make things that people want to keep and appreciate.
3 words to describe Your Jakarta
Sibuk (busy), ramai (crowded) and menyenankan (very entertaining)
Tell us about your own family
I am married to Iby Upay and we have a daughter called Cantika (‘Cika’) who is 15 years old. Slowly, step by step Cantika is learning the skill of metalwork from me. Although she isn’t very patient, I know she will be good at this craft. It just takes time.
The Iron Workshop
Jl. Madrasah No. 31
Phone: 0813 2320 7711
*Kenalkan: Let me introduce..
Interested in reading about other Creatives based in greater Jakarta? Check out the following posts:
Words: Jo Photography: a journey bespoke