Nyemas Indah Nabilla is the founder of Subeng Klasik, a Sanur-based jeweller garnering international attention for its reinvention of traditional Balinese styles and artworks into striking modern designs.
In 2019, when the whole world ground to a halt, businesses around the globe were forced to close. Bali, with its tourism-based economy was especially hard hit. Nyemas Indah and her husband Donny however, saw an opportunity to celebrate the customs and traditions of Bali, and opened Subeng Klasik – jewellery inspired by the ancient aesthetics of Nusantara, the Majapahit empire, the Singosari kingdom and beyond.
After studying Fine Arts at the Institut Kesenian Jakarta (IKJ) or Jakarta Institute of the Arts, Nyemas Indah realised that the traditions and customs of Bali jewellery and design needed to be kept alive and re-imagined for a modern audience. She decided to design and facilitate the creation of modern Balinese jewellery, selling it at affordable prices, firstly to her friends and personal network, and then eventually to a much wider audience.
Nyemas Indah works with four local craftspeople from Gianyar and Celuk with whom she has collaborated since 2017. Beginning with her own personal antique collection, she now commissions custom orders for clients looking for the traditional Balinese aesthetic, but with their own personal touch. She thinks of herself as an art dealer, the conduit between traditional Balinese artisans and their modern clientele. Sometimes these customers come in with a clear idea in mind, but for those who need help creating their piece, Nyemas Indah can sketch designs and help them to bring their ideas to life. Pieces are carefully handcrafted, sometimes using wax moulds or 3D-printing for more intricate designs.
Subeng Klasik also upcycles jewellery, either through restoration, or by re-using the raw materials and incorporating them into new designs. Their online presence means that more and more customers are finding them and asking for help to re-design traditional Balinese jewellery into more contemporary pieces.
Nyemas Indah is clear however, that no matter how big the business gets and how much fashion may evolve, her inspiration comes from classic Indonesian styles from across the archipelago and their traditional shapes, engravings and styles. She believes that these traditions are grounded in culturally significant symbolism that connects the past with the future.
From small beginnings, the business is now booming, with two large shopfronts and an international reputation. Her husband Donny uses his marketing skills and passion for business to make their brand well-known all over Indonesia. Donny is also famous throughout Sanur as a motorbike enthusiast, tattoo lover, and daredevil – in fact they met via social media after Nyemas saw a video of Donny ‘surfing’ behind a motorbike on a flooded street.
Their dream is to have a museum one day, celebrating the history, tradition and culture of fabric and jewellery from all over Indonesia.
Nyemas and Donny are the modern face of Bali – a couple intent on celebrating the traditions and customs of Bali, and connecting the past with a very bright future. And did they let the pandemic slow them down – no chance! In fact, it inspired them and made them the force they are today.