Left&Right: A perfectly matched pair
INDAH IS THE MALAY WORD for beautiful. But it is also the name of a small café cum art gallery and event venue nestled in old part Kuching town.
With most shops in its vicinity now closed and seemingly abandoned, it is easy to miss this café located at Upper China Street.
INDAH House Kuching is making a buzz about town because it is the only place in the city where you can have a piece of cake, sip on a drink, admire the paintings of our own local silk artist and grab some handmade jewellery all in one go.
When you are there, take the narrow staircase leading to the mezzanine floor of INDAH.
There you will find yourself in the Left&Right jewellery studio where you can buy handmade jewellery and accessories.
The name Left&Right makes a clever reference to the left side of the brain that performs logical and analytical thinking and the right side that allows imagination to run free.
Their jewellery is intricate and striking that one can only imagine the meticulous work behind each piece. Besides creating beautiful jewellery, Left&Right’s artisans Eileen Phoan and Fabian Tan also share their beautiful stories.
During the Sam-Pat Bazaar held at INDAH on Nov 29, I managed to sit down with them and listen to their stories; one of those stories being a life lesson about not taking things for granted.
“Six years ago I lost my grandma in an accident. The night before, I was very naïve and I did not end the conversation properly,” Phoan began. “During her funeral I saw a dragonfly; there was nothing I could do so I took the dragonfly as her spirit and I apologised.”
From that day onward Phoan promised herself that she would never end the conversation without a good conclusion. She shared her need to express her love to people around her whenever she had the chance. Phoan believes that every day she must live her life to the fullest because she realises how fragile life can be.
The designer said, “That is why you can see us expressing our stories in all the jewellery pieces to remind people not to take things for granted, not to take people around you for granted, not to take things around you for granted and also not to take yourself for granted.”
With that, Left&Right came up with a series of dragonfly-themed jewellery.
“The dragonfly series is the most significant, most personal and the core of Left&Right,” Phoan said. “Both of my grandparents are amazing storytellers so this is almost like a continuation of their legacy.”
Phoan and Tan, both 24 years old, graduated in Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Swinburne University in June but now they are fully invested with Left&Right.
“For us we really love what we are doing now, not in the sense of making jewellery per se but also in the sense of sharing stories,” she stated.
After they are inspired by certain stories and experiences, they express them through their jewellery and they write out their stories as well. Phoan explained, “Every single piece has a story to go with it. We are actually sharing our experience, perspectives and even our inspirations.”
Their walk-in studio at INDAH allows the artisans a chance to share their stories with others. “Every customer we meet enables us to have a face-to-face interaction where we actually share our stories with them.
“A lot of the customers are so kind to tell how the stories affect them so this is what motivates us, to do this full time.”
Left&Right is also a product of teamwork and love between Phoan and Tan who have known each other for eight years. They began dating each other seven years ago.
“When we started three years ago, I designed it, he sold it,” she said.
Commenting on their partnership, Phoan said “For both us, the nature of our teamwork is that he thinks of the big picture, I think about the details.”
Tan’s jewellery design for Left&Right are The Knot and True Sights inspired by his fascination with medieval chainmail.
But unlike Phoan whose favourite is the dragonfly series, Tan said he still does not have a favourite piece yet.
“I don’t have any favourites to be honest, but soon. Yet to come”, Tan said leaving me with the thoughts that there will be more to expect from Left&Right in the future.
On Dec 7, Left&Right announced on their Facebook page that they had been selected as the Top 3 finalists in Entrepreneurs’ Organization Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) national level.
They will be representing Malaysia in the regional level next year in Manila.
For more stories and jewelleries from Left&Right, drop them a visit at INDAH or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/leftNright.juxtapose?fref=ts.
About Sam-Pat Bazaar at INDAH
According to Trudy Tan, the project developer and baker for INDAH House Kuching, the café-art gallery-event venue opened its doors on July 1 this year.
‘Sam-Pat’ means three-eight in Cantonese. Since INDAH is located at number 38 of Upper China Street, it made perfect sense to call it Sam-Pat Bazaar.
Trudy said, “We wanted to organise a bazaar dedicated to 100% handmade items. We also wanted the artisans to tell stories.”
Through word-of-mouth, INDAH gathered a handful of local handmade crafters during the first ever Sam-Pat Bazaar.
Besides jewellery, other vendors offered homemade bath products like Crunchy Handmades which makes an assortment of balms, salves and carrier oils with natural ingredients, Borneo Elephant Soaps that produces organic soaps and Steadyhands, a group of henna enthusiasts.
This 100% handmade bazaar is going to be a monthly event at INDAH.
Besides the Sam-Pat Bazaar held at INDAH, it would be a sin not to mention the cakes.
It only seemed natural that the proponent of a handmade bazaar would also be selling homemade cakes, which is the secret behind all her luxurious cakes.
With catchy names like Death by Chocolate, T-Real-Misu and Naughty-La, the desserts have received rave reviews by customers.
You only have to read the review of INDAH at Trip Advisor to see that her cakes are a big hit and Trudy’s friendly personality are winning factors about the unique venue.
With Narong Daun, a local silk painter sharing the first floor as a studio and gallery together with Left&Right studio at the mezzanine floor, there is still more to expect from INDAH.
“Eventually we want bands playing here as well because Sarawak’s musical artists are part of a different kind of art form,” she said.
Speaking of the concept behind INDAH, Trudy commented “Basically it is what Narong always says to people, when you come here we want you to feel ‘indah’, when you eat our food, you should feel that it is ‘indah’, when you see our pictures you feel ‘indah’”.
To catch a glimpse how beautiful everything is at INDAH, visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/IndahHouseKuching
Fellow The Borneo Post SEEDS’s writer Jude Toyat caught up with Narong earlier this year in ‘Exploring the beauty of nature with Narong Daun’