With a ticket price capped at IDR 15.000, Empire 21 Cinema in Wijaya would never fail to see a flush of young people walk through their doors on the weekends or after work to catch the latest screenings. But after its closure in 2007, and with much of the area consisting of residential houses, the lure to visit slowly declined, and more vibrant neighbouring districts of Blok M and Dharmawangsa began to appeal as alternative spots.
Much has changed since, but the neighbourhood’s strategic location remains, and when paired with affordable rent, it’s a steal for any young business to set up shop and start hustling their way to success. Grand Wijaya is now home to a cluster of local businesses helmed by young creatives. One following the other, they are ones to thank for rekindling the neighbourhood’s charm, and slowly transforming it into a melting pot for creative endeavours; some newly established during the pandemic, and others, more seasoned and familiar within the industry.
Four-story tall, the buildings in Grand Wijaya Center and its surrounding are now home to a handful ensemble of young creatives, parading a varied array of tenants—ranging from creative agencies (Table Six, Studiorama), fashion labels (SASSH, TANGAN, Aesthetic Pleasure), art studios (Art Dept), and exhibition space (Sunset Limited), just to name a few—all conveniently situated, if not merely separated by floors, then within a close walk from one another.
When they’re not shouting greetings from across the street, running into each other at the local K-Mart, or having lunch at their go-to Nasi Campur Kenanga, you can often spot these individuals on their routine visits to Tujuhari Coffee, where they often have meetings and catch ups. “The environment at Grand Wijaya is very supportive towards the creative industry to continue to grow together,” founder of slow-fashion brand SASSH, Sarita Farah, noted.
Beyond sharing the same space, the growing creative community—some with friendships prior, while others newly acquainted as neighbours—share a concerted effort to support and build an ecosystem that supports one another. Aptly expressed by the co-founders of shop cum exhibition space Sunset Limited, “Our close proximity to one another makes it so easy to meet up, brainstorm ideas, and execute them together. And when you work on projects with people who also love what they do, that motivates you further.”
As a result, the neighbourhood has since served as space for cross-industry collaborations and community-based programs: from music performances, art exhibitions, and fashion pop-ups, all geared towards engaging youth culture.
This sense of community spills over into a collective instagram page (@visit.grandwijaya) which Lavie Daramarezkya, co-founder of Tujuhari Coffee initiated. Much like a digitalised pin board, one can scroll through it for events, collaborations, and updates on what’s taking place in the area. “It all began when I was sharing ideas with Fandy Susanto of Table Six and Sunset Limited, and Asti Surya of La Douche Vita and ASAU. We saw that there was quite a high concentration of creatives in the area and we wanted to create a platform that supports one another, lifting up Grand Wijaya as a one-stop creative hub,” Lavie explains.
Certainly, the pandemic and most recently the emergency PPKM has squeezed most, if not the entire creative industry to a corner of resourcefulness and collaboration. As young creatives, many have had to put a pause on ongoing plans and projects, and this is when a creative community proves necessary. Exhibiting generous grit, many across the industry have come together and swiftly acclimated to repackage their collaborations and offerings virtually.
Amongst these initiatives are a series of online workshops (check out Tujuhari Coffee’s instagram page for their ‘I Want To Learn’ series) as well as ‘Di Antara Wijaya’, produced by Sounds From The Corner, Studiorama, and Sakaspace, where they team up with local musicians to put together music performances in varying locations around Wijaya. “Local brands are smarter now, I’ve seen more brands venturing to cultivate better products, concepts, and offerings, even in a time of crisis,” said Putri J. Ghariza, founder of fashion label Aesthetic Pleasure.
In light of Grand Wijaya, it is clear that for young local businesses, a supportive community and access to opportunities (read: reasonable rent) are what grants them development and longevity, or a lack thereof. Of which, when granted, the benefits reaped rolls far beyond their close circle; thus inviting traction for neighboring businesses and collectively making an appeal to a wider, expanding ring of consumers. Where once faded away neighbourhoods have potential to facilitate and encourage this revival, the power lies in local businesses to push through.