A Leaf of Faith with Larch Studio

By Elizabeth Sihombing
4th December 2019
The Jakarta-based creative studio, Larch Studio built their name to be a pioneer in interior and landscape design centred around plants and greeneries as their muse.

A rising trend among youngsters today would have to be the pride in owning indoor houseplants. Dethroning the “cat lady” cultural archetype, “plant lady” is slowly but surely taking the reign. This may be followed by the realisation that not everyone is blessed with the green thumb, but with Larch Studio, a Jakarta-based integrated creative design, living in the urban jungle is a chic and attainable endeavour.

Situated in the nooks of Antasari, Larch Studio has been making a name since 2015 when Satya Putra and Sugiharto “Ogie” first started out the business as interior consultants. The former’s background isn’t too far off from the goods of foliage: from three years as a biology teacher at Jakarta International School (JIS) to becoming the institution’s official landscaper for another three, it became clear that landscaping was his true calling: “I found my passion and took a course in Singapore as a gardener and landscaper.”

Perhaps the idea of being a professional landscaper is newfound in Jakarta. But there’s more to landscaping than keeping the plants green and standing that most don’t realise. “I worked in Botanical Garden and Gardens by the Bay for two years.” In the 160-year-old tropical garden in Singapore that showcases some of the rarest flora and fauna in the world, Satya helped design areas of the parks while also designing the best ecosystem for the plants to thrive all-year long. When he returned to Indonesia, he found that Ogie shared a similar passion, and together Larch Studio came to be.

Satya was still working with JIS when he took his first landscape design project for BEAU by Talita Setyadi in Cikajang. It was a solo project where he got creative by “gathering all the plants in my backyard and moving it to BEAU,” he recalls. The plan was successful to gather the crowd’s appreciation, including Talita’s. The ripple effect of this novelty changed the course of his career. Soon enough, Larch Studio tended to recognisable names of the F&B industry: from ISMAYA’s lifestyle brands, to independent ones like _Oeang in M BLOC and various public spaces to top their portfolio.

Larch’s most challenging design, for instance, was creating the landscape at Cork & Screw Country Club in Senayan. Building a garden that housed “adult” (read: large) plants and ferns not native to Indonesia to give the contrived sense that the establishment has been around for years instead of months. The country club today speaks for itself. On the other side, their most successful interior landscape design is the recently opened Social Garden. In true Larch signature, the restaurant is a jungle of flora—breathable and enchanting. Needless to say, the whole design engaged a lot of effort and research to create an interior that boasts 90 percent of alive foliage, the remaining 10 percent being plastic and practically out of reach.

Ideally, landscaping should be treated like the business of interior design or architecture. When a landscaper can see the design and layout of the establishment early in the process, they can create an environment where plants and businesses, can flourish in. “I get my fortune from plants. We don’t just put plants anywhere. Plants need to live well and grow well, so it is contradictive to décor. With décor, if it is beautiful, it is ok, but at Larch Studio, if we plant something we have to ask is it going to be alive or not?”

When it comes to landscaping, there is no stop-and-go contract, but an everlasting relationship. To wit, Larch Studio dedicates an entire team to the maintenance of their clients’ plants and foliage, dropping by from establishment to establishment to help provide the necessary care. The maintenance team, aptly called so, knows well that this business is truly a labour of love. “[Clients] are intimidated by real plants because they don’t know how to care for them and might see artificial ones as the cost-effective alternative. While in fact, with proper care it’s actually long-lasting,” Satya explains.

Alas, Larch Studio doesn’t navigate the F&B industry as makers only: Sama Dengan Coffee is their venture too, with the Antasari branch doubling as the studio’s office space.

While Satya and his team is enjoying this spotlight, he hopes the movement can shine the light on more sustainable lifestyles. One pot at a time, he hopes this will encourage a conversation about plants and their benefits. Larch’s own team takes this endeavour seriously with each member caring for one plant, or “Pokémon” as they call it, to nurture and even get inspired from. For one, the Dieffenbachia, or Big Ben, is Satya’s baby that he has cared for four years until he gave him away to the owner of ISMAYA.

With the plant trend in full swing, the future at Larch Studio is promising. When asked about upcoming plans, Satya mentioned the full 2020 workload in store. Plant parents are steadily growing in Jakarta and people are starting to be more informed of the benefits, but there remains one wish from Satya: “What Jakarta needs is a park. A space where little kids can play in mud or sand outside and where people hang out.” An ambitious goal, but with all the exciting projects Larch Studio is about to undertake, check back again in a few years and there might just be a public park created by the studio itself in the city.