Sun, 23 Mar 2003

Composer seeks tranquility in home studio

Maria Endah Hulupi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A high, exposed brick wall and tall bamboo plants almost completely shield the small studio of composer Tony Prabowo from outside view.

Located on narrow Jl. Tridarma in Cilandak, South Jakarta, the two-story studio has the typical ambience of a Javanese-style home, in which tranquility reigns. Designed by architect Suwarmo Supeno of PT Paramaloka Consultant, the atmosphere inside belies the forbidding outlook created by the brick wall and the bamboo plants, set up to seclude the studio from the high-density neighborhood.

A minimalist front garden, covered by loose natural stones and embellished with leafy plants in terracota pots, greets guests on their way to the terrace. Once there, visitors can catch a glimpse of a relaxing view from a rear garden that is packed with tropical plants like philodendron, syngonium, heliconia, and epipremnum.

The artistic terrace has wooden furniture such as gebyog (Javanese partition), a Chinese table at one corner, a round table in the center with a bale-bale (traditional long chair) and woven rattan chairs. Several posters hang on the wall.

In this very terrace, the composer keeps some of his favorite collections: clay pots, traditional masks, ethnic statues and old, antique dishes.

All of these items radiate palpable Javanese nuances, which Tony firmly denied. "I'm a Javanese but it's not my aim to create a Javanese atmosphere. I'm very modern," said the composer, who uses his studio as his home as well.

The studio's ground floor has a small living room furnished with interesting antique items like a huge cistern made of timber and a set of antique woven rattan chairs with a round table at the center. There is also a neatly cluttered table in the corner and a whiteboard on the wall, recording his busy schedule.

Tony also displays some posters and paintings by Tisna Sanjaya and young painter Shawnee Puti, as well as hundreds of items from his beautiful ethnic cloth collection, hung loosely along the railing of the second floor.

"I love (traditional) cloth -- I have hundreds; some are antique and the rest are just beautiful cloth from Sumba, Cirebon and other parts of Java. I also want to collect Madura cloth. What does cloth have to do with music? I don't know," he said, while showing some of the antique ones.

"I love to collect leather objects and carpets, but carpets are too expensive. I also have dozens of uniquely shaped kemoceng (dusters)," he laughed, adding that he couldn't stand dust.

The extensive ground floor of his studio is used for practicing and recording. "I need a multipurpose area to accommodate all my activities," the composer said.

On the second floor is a multifunction area where he works, unwinds and sleeps. The small area is divided into a study and work section. There is a bed on one side and a set of furniture with a marble coffee table and a water dispenser on the other.

The room is packed (yet still organized) with books, compact discs and papers. "I find the smaller the room, the more I can concentrate on my job," he explained.

As for his love of musical instruments, pots, cloth and leather goods that adorn the interior of his studio, Tony just said, "I love hunting for those items, I forget everything else when buying those things. It's crazy and dangerous. Fortunately, I'm single, otherwise ... ," he did not finish his sentence.

As if trying to apologize for the overcrowded space, the designer said, "This is the home of a single man. I practically living in this studio now. I sleep on that bed. When I wake up, a cup of coffee, bread and newspaper are ready on this table. After that, I play with my dogs (Bowie and Ciaro) and go to the garden to remove dead leaves. Then I go upstairs to work and make some phone calls, but later return to the garden to join my servant to take care of the plants," he said.

Just a house away from his studio is his home, built under the same roof as that of his neighbor Desy Harahap. The small, yet artistic house has a beautiful old carved, wooden door.

Inside is an extensive room divided into a living area, pantry, bathroom and garden. The living room is furnished with furniture he bought mainly from Yogyakarta and two shelves to display some of his musical instruments, mostly tambourines from different countries.

Just like his studio, the house also has a rear garden, containing a koi fish pond.

Tony has used a beautiful gebyog as a partition, leading to his bedroom on the second story.

The bedroom is equipped with a huge, rustic bench made from rough-hewn timber, some antique cabinets, a four-poster bed and a low, round table. It is also equipped with a small study. "I haven't slept in this room for ages. I find it easier to wake up at the same place as I work," he said, referring to his studio.

"But that doesn't mean I don't like this house. I'm lucky to have a home but I need a larger one, large enough to accommodate music and dance performance with a larger garden, in Yogyakarta, where the atmosphere for arts, culture and music is still encouraging," he said.

That is a dream home, which he plans to put together after he has completed his performance in Berlin next year.