Eric Widjaja ranks among the country’s most successful designers. In addition to founding and directing the design studio Thinking*Room, his designs have adorned the marketing and advertising campaigns of major brands such as Xerox, GE, and Levi’s.
The 38-year old studied at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California, and spent a few years at Landor Associates, one of the world’s best known brand consulting firms, before returning to his homeland and establishing Thinking*Room.
Do you remember when you first became interested in designing?
It was back when I was in junior high school. I wasn’t good at drawing at all to be honest, but I loved music so much — rock music specifically. Rock music made me dive deep into design. Songs, compositions, album covers, band logos; they all depicted something that moved me toward designing.
What was your initial goal as a young man trying to learn design?
I was a little bit late when I discovered that my real passion was in design, and before that I had wasted two years studying industrial engineering. So my initial goal back then was to finish my bachelor degree as soon as possible [in order to study design].
What kind of feeling did design give you when you first got into the field?
There is no specific feeling; I believe graphic design is a profession. My thinking, when I decided to go to design school, was how I could use my profession to support a career in the future, to survive. Being a graphic designer; I love everything about it, from the beginning to finishing process. I love the brainstorming session, the craftsmanship, and all the details that I put into the work.
Can you give us a specific example of when you first completed something and felt fulfilled?
I feel fulfilled when I get paid [laughs], just kidding. Actually, it was the first time my work in [design] school was picked to be shown all year long in the Academy of Art’s The Annual Spring Show in 1999.
How have things changed now? Has it become more of a job?
From early on, I’ve always assumed it was a job. As I said earlier, graphic design is a profession. We have a deadline, we need to solve a problem with clients, and we get paid for it. I guess those factors differentiate graphic design from fine arts.
How and when did you start becoming more serious in the field of design?
After I finished my studies, I decided to take what I’ve learned from school to a serious level. Because that is the only thing I could do, so I should make this profitable yet inspiring to others.
Can you tell us a little bit about Thinking*Room?
Thinking*Room is a graphic design studio. We create everything related to graphic design ranging from identities, prints and packaging to websites. We work with a range of clients from corporate to retail business.
Does anything you’ve done personally stand out?
Most of the works are a valuable asset to my studio, so I would say everything stands out.
What has been your proudest achievement as a designer?
Whenever my work inspires others. Also, I tend to give strong directions in every project, without readying any alternatives and most of the time it works. That is a personal accomplishment for me as well as part of the excitement of being a designer.
What would you say is your unique trait as a designer?
I’m not the type of person who is able to judge himself, so I don’t really know what my unique trait is. But most of the other designers who have worked with me say that I’m the type of designer who isn’t easily satisfied.
How has design in Indonesia been growing over the years?
In terms of community and creative people-design practitioners, it is growing aggressively — exactly how I imagined it when I initially opened my studio. Hopefully design can help shape this country.