Budiman Ong launched his career in hand-crafted illumination 14 years ago. With a close connection to the natural materials that surround him, he has managed to embrace both cultural change and people empowerment.
After training at Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University in Scotland, Ong worked at luxury jewellery company John Hardy for six years, where he experimented with different materials. Being drawn to lighting, he was keen to explore unique characters and signatures. And so, with a passion for modern designs, Budiman created Ong Cen Kuang in 2008.
The Sumatran-born designer captures the luxurious spirit of nature in a tropical paradise. Meticulously crafted elements are swagged, pierced, and illuminated to generate products that are soft and natural. Handmade design is a process for Ong, a collaboration of sorts between the artisan and his carefully selected materials. Shapes become a secondary aspect that come naturally after a true ‘conversation’ has been exchanged with the materials.
“Hand-crafted pieces allow the character of the material to speak for themselves,” says Ong. “The creations are timeless and innovative, fusing traditional craft with modern elements, resulting in pieces filled with stories and soul. Our lighting can take the shape of plants, sea creatures, leaves, vegetables, and so on – almost anything and everything.”
Unique to Ong Cen Kuang, the process involves hands-on experiments with the materials such as recyclable metal. No drawing is done, meaning this is very far removed from the standard design processes.
“Every time I work on something new, I always focus on the material first. So, usually I let the material speak, that’s the first thing”, explains Ong. “Then once I have a conversation with the material, I try to imagine how it can take on the shape of the products, and in the end, the shape is very organic. We do not force the material into a certain shape.”
Handcrafting has always been at the forefront of Ong Cen Kuang pieces, and most materials are sourced and produced locally to reduce their carbon footprint. The dream to build a strong family of artisans following tradition has been realised. A team of skilled craftsmen who take pride in their work remains a powerful driving force behind the brand.
“The artisans that join the Ong Cen Kuang team are hired one skilled worker at a time”, says Ong. “They all have one thing in common, a thirst to learn new skills, and they are unafraid of making mistakes. We believe this is how we grow as a company together.”
Ong’s Asian heritage fuels his inspiration and his Western education intrinsically shapes his aesthetics and knowledge of design. Living in Bali, Ong is inspired by nature, the open spaces and how Balinese are so in touch with their surroundings. His childhood memories and Chinese heritage have been fused with Indonesian culture, not to mention, his design education in the UK. A real global blend, culminating in the distinctive identity of Ong Cen Kuang.
Handcrafted With Pride
Ong and his team create beautiful, design-focused pieces out of his studio in Bali, Indonesia, bringing the magic of nature to home interiors. Over the years, their unique style of luminaire design has set the mood for hundreds of private houses, villas, hospitality industries, offices, local enterprises and international brands.
In addition, Ong is busy supporting the recovery of sustainable, global business growth by selling decorative, Indonesian-inspired lighting globally to France, Belgium, Italy and US.
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Tel: +62 812 66885591, +62 812 37237699