Born in Venezuela in 1978, Maximilian Jencquel is fluent in 5 languages: English, Spanish, French, German, and Indonesian. Following his studies in the USA, he pursued a Masters in Interior Design at the prestigious ESAG Penninghen in Paris, France, graduating as valedictorian in 2005.
His thesis project, Cabuya, was a bamboo house designed as an alternative to contemporary construction techniques that are harmful to the environment. Cabuya was awarded the Janus de l’Etudiant for best student project; and was exhibited in Nantes at both the European Ways of Life design show and the Biennale Internationale de Design in Saint-Etienne.
After graduation, Maximilian was recruited by Andree Putman to assist with the design of the Anne Fontaine boutique in Tokyo, and a private residence for movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer in Miami. In 2006, he joined Christian Liaigre’s design studio in Paris, and spent several years assisting with projects from across the globe. Some of Maximilian Jencquel’s more noteworthy achievements while he was under Liaigre’s wings include a modern private residence with panoramic views of the city of Athens and the Parthenon; Jean Louis Costes’s restaurant “La Societe” on the place Saint-Germain des Prés; and Christian Liaigre’s own apartment in Paris.
Maximilian decided to leave Paris following his trip to Indonesia in 2010, where he discovered a heartfelt connection to Ubud, the cultural and artistic center of Bali. After establishing Studio Jencquel in 2011, Maximilian is now pursuing his passion for vernacular architecture and tropical landscapes, which is inspired by his childhood in Venezuela. Today they are the DNA of his creativity.
As a young designer in France, I was trained by, learned from and worked for such prestigious designers as Andree Putman and Christian Liaigre. Moving to the island of Bali, and working with native artists and craftsmen, has given me an entirely new perspective on my profession. In Europe, we served a niche luxury market patronised by wealthy clients. Because expense was usually a secondary consideration, we worked with some of the most exclusive and famous craftsmen in the world, in a bubble far isolated from most mainstream designers. This would all change after I landed in Bali in 2010. In a sense, the road that let me to the famous island was a reaction to the limitations of the ‘bubble’ and a growing belief that the future of design was in Asia. After years of striving for perfection and the highest standards, I also wanted to manifest my own aesthetic and vision by setting up an independent design atelier.
There are also many challenges: the lack of infrastructure and the gap between trade schools, as we know them in the Western tradition. In many ways, the Balinese system closely resembles the old apprenticeship and guild structures of Europe, whereby skills are handed down from one generation to the next in family environments. There are also benefits: a strong sense of self-sufficiency, which results in artisans having multiple talents; with the side effect of more room for creative experimentation.
Naturally I was confronted with a radically different way of doing things as well as the need to work within limited budgets. While this bothered me in the beginning, I soon came to the realisation that the challenges required me to think out of the box and be more resourceful. So, being exposed to a new and profound culture with its own deep artistic and design roots expanded my design vocabulary and skills. The result was a rapid broadening of my artistic and creative palette. An extension of this was embodied in the skills and aesthetics of the craftsmen with whom I worked. Establishing sound relationships, based on trust and understanding, was a critical step necessary to set myself up as a successful designer. This requires patience and an open mind, because it calls for adaptation skills and a willingness to question old beliefs on both sides. This is generally true when interacting with another culture, but even more so when trying to develop a truly global design sense.
Another thing that distinguishes Indonesian craftsmen from those in the West is their continued use of simple tools dating back centuries. This is especially true on Bali, where mechanical and industrial tools have only been introduced in recent years. While this can be frustrating at times, it also forces a refreshing return to the basics, almost as if one had to learn to write by hand, draw without AutoCAD, and accurately mill wood using only handheld tools instead of robotic machines. In time, I learned that to succeed in this new environment, I needed to overcome my own narrow habits and expectations. In the process, I expanded and continue to expand my own designer skills.
In contrast with the West, where the primary job of a designer is largely divorced from manufacturing, in Indonesia I felt compelled to actively engage in every step to make sure to meet my clients’ expectations. Unexpected problems in the field require quick decisions that result in creative solutions. Final designs are also influenced by what you get rather than what you wanted or hoped for. If your sense of design is rigid, this can represent a failure. However, if you open yourself up, it can become an unexpected opportunity. In short, the process is an essential part of the design - a concept foreign to many young designers who only sit in front of a computer.
When I arrived on Bali, my stance, attitude, frame of mind, and approach were largely fixed to an ethnocentric view rooted in my education and work experience. In Latin America, the United States, and Europe, I spent most of my time indoors. In sharp contrast, my work here is directly connected with a vibrant natural world that is real and earthy. My learning curve has been exponentially tangled into a truly new perspective of lush and exuberant tropical forest!
In a fast-developing world, design is increasingly becoming a generic, mass-produced and predictable component of the physical structures that surround us. Somewhere along the way, cultural aspect has been lost, stories forgotten and meaningful nuances overlooked.
To preserve a sense of harmony between the physical and social elements of the world around us, Studio Jencquel takes a deep personal journey within each component of the creation process, in which every component serves a purpose and tells a unique story. By drawing on the principles of slow design and utilizing adaptive, sustainable design approaches, Studio Jencquel seeks a richness of meaning and unique emotional connection with material and physical structures.