#51 - Art of Construction

Q&A: Koi on its Furniture Made with Recycled Teak Wood

Urban Collection. Courtesy of Koi Furniture.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine visited the Koi Gallery, in Kemang, south of Jakarta and discovered that the company continues using recycled teak wood in its products.

When teak wood trees were overcut in 1997 in Indonesia, a ban on using it was enforced that created a crisis for many manufacturers and designers. From this crisis came a brilliant solution that led to the use of recycled teak wood, a method employed by furniture brand Koi Gallery. Alain Cornil, the gallery’s founder, recycled and salvaged teak wood from old houses, bridges and boats and launched the company’s first recycled teak wood collection in 2000 called the Line Collection.


ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Where does the wood come from?

Alain Cornil: We are one of the first galleries in Indonesia to start a collection using wood salvaged from old boats. This collection is called the Boat Collection. Fishing boats that were too old and left on the beach were collected and we made furniture with them. We also have other items like dining tables with old benches from warungs or canteens were people were sitting before. We take wood from old houses, buy them and build the furniture.

The gallery, situated upstairs the Koi restaurant. Courtesy of Koi Furniture.

The gallery, situated upstairs the Koi restaurant. Courtesy of Koi Furniture.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Was it difficult to find suppliers of recycled teak wood?

Alain Cornil: It took us a long time to identify suppliers that we trust. We have been in the business for 20 years and it has been a painful learning process, but now we have a reliable supply, with good wood quality at a good price. There is a limited supply of recycled teak wood as there are few old bridges and houses now. We try to design with a limited quantity of wood and we have started using steel metal legs to minimize the use of wood and costs for market positioning. Our aim is to be trendy at the same time, have furniture built in good quality at reasonable prices for the market.

There is a limited supply of recycled teak wood as there are few old bridges and houses now.”

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Who are the designers of your furniture pieces?

Alain Cornil: We’re responsible for some of the designs, but other designs come from a few of the suppliers we work with. When we have custom-made projects, we dedicate our time in designing the bespoke products for these projects. An example of an existing project is the newly opened Koi Restaurant at Ra Simatupang where we created the dining tables and chairs plus the bar with recycled teak wood, following our look and branding.  We work with people who have good ideas and design recommendations, like our main supplier, d-Bodhi, based in Yogyakarta.



ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Where do you have your recycled teak wood furniture built?

Alain Cornil: Our recycled teak wood furniture is made in Yogyakarta and in Klaten, a small village in the center of Java. For recycled wood, the biggest city that has this is Jepara. This is the city for furniture making in Indonesia. They are not specialized in recycled wood but in plantation wood as that is where the knowledge of wood manufacturing has been based for a long time. This is a city where you have nothing but wood factories. We used to work with manufacturers in Jepara but the quality was not the same with the present suppliers that we have now in Yogyakarta and Klaten.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Are majority of your collections at the Koi Gallery made with recycled teak wood?

Alain Cornil: Almost 90% of the products in our showroom are created from recycled teak wood. We have a new collection called the Mango Collection, made from mango wood, which is the only collection that is not built with recycled wood, and this collection was made in Cirebon.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Since the crisis in 1997, you switched to using recycled teak wood. Now that the crisis is over and plantation teak wood is abundant, why do you remain loyal in using recycled teak wood?

Alain Cornil: Mainly because of the look and durability. We have bridges that are 200 years old and the old teak wood planks that we get from these old bridges are still in good quality, with defects that contribute to the look and uniqueness of the object that is created with it. We try to make the furniture visually appealing and the imperfections make the piece original and beautiful.

Recycled teak wood has become more expensive than plantation teakwood, with the work applied to it in a way to have the various salvaged pieces achieve the design that is preferred. Wooden planks have to be selected and in terms of supply, suppliers are offering less of it. Nevertheless, we choose to use recycled teak wood even though the supply of plantation teak wood is abundant at present as the look, durability and feel of old recycled teak wood is hard to match.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Can you tell us more about some of your notable collections and the latest one?

Alain Cornil: The oldest collection that we continue to produce until now is the Fisher Collection, which is a combination of recycled teak wood with fine sanded wood, the structure has a rough appearance. In this collection, we have tv tables, coffee tables, cupboards and other items for the living room, dining room and bedroom.

Our latest collection is called the Urban Collection which is now presented in our showroom. It comprises modern pieces combined with metal parts, like the legs and frames of a dining table in metal.

About the Author

Vanessa Liwanag, is an MBA alumni of the prestigious Mod'Art International in Paris, France and founder of Creative Talents Worldwide. A frequent contributor to ArchiExpo e-magazine, she also writes for top luxury travel blog LuxeInACity.

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