Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
- D: I am a leather craftsman, photographer and designer. I was born in Mumbai, India and I have been living in Singapore for the past decade. Since young, I took an interest in art and design. Drawing, making things or taking things apart was enjoyable to me.
Being a visual person, I wanted to study graphics design but sadly my “O” Level scores fell short. Instead, I got into interior design and though I never really connected with interior design as deeply as I did with graphic design, my lecturers who let me explore my creativity freely were a real blessing. After my diploma, I went on to pursue a Design Communication Bachelor’s at Lasalle. Now, I do freelance design, photography and run my leather crafts brand, Oakmoon Crafts.
You’re Singaporean? Why the move to Bali?
- D: Yes, I am Singaporean. I got my citizenship after I completed National Service (NS) a couple of years ago. I moved to Bali because I was experiencing an existential crisis and really needed change. After finishing army, I took a gap year to build up my design portfolio. This allowed me to get into Lasalle, and in fact, I was able to skip the foundation year and jump straight to the second year.
However, after the first semester I was not happy with the work I was creating and felt like I was wasting my time in school. At the same time, my girlfriend who is Indonesian had just received her degree in Singapore but was unable to get a job here in time. She decided that she did not want to work a 9-5 job and wanted to move to Bali instead to focus on spirituality and start her tarot reading brand Foxglove Tarot. That’s when I felt this was my calling too. I had been to Bali before and was in love with the place. We decided to move to Bali so we can both start working on building our brands and live a laid back life away from the city.
How did you get into crafting leather?
- D: I picked up leather crafting a few years ago as a hobby. I am a hands on person so it was easy to get a hang of it. I decided to start Oakmoon Crafts after I made the decision to move to Bali. I wanted the freedom of being self-employed and I had to choose how I was going to achieve that. I had a few options. I could either focus on being a professional photographer, a freelance designer or a full time leather craftsman. I ended up choosing leather crafting because I felt that by starting a leather craft brand I was able to practice all the things I enjoyed.
Are you self-taught?
- D: I am self-taught. I learnt leather crafting by watching other people craft on Youtube and by reading leather crafting books.
I notice you use two sorts of leather. Is one easier to work with for certain products or?
- D: Both leathers have their unique characteristics. Vegetable Tanned is easily stained and Pull Up is easily scratched. So I have to be careful when crafting with either of them.
The Batik surprise in it is very refreshing. Tell us a bit about the fusion between the two.
- D: When I was coming up with a concept for the brand, I wanted it to have something different. The market is saturated with leather products that more of less have the same design, and I felt like adding a twist of fabric on the inside would give my brand an added edge. The idea for using batik came when I first moved to Bali. Batik is very prominent in Indonesian culture and you can see it used everywhere. I was mesmerized by the batik patterns and the process of creating it. Both the batik and the leather items are handmade and I feel that they complement each other well.
Your partnership with Bu Devi seems evident in your products. How is it like working with her?
- D: I was introduced to her by a local friend. She has a small 2-storey studio and she lives there with her husband. When I first visited her studio, I felt like I was entering a familiar place, like the feeling you get when you are meeting a family member you have not met in a long time. Bu Devi and her husband were both welcoming and explained to me the process of batik making. They even invited me to check out the batik dyeing process. I was amazed by their selflessness and generosity when they offered me handmade snacks and tea.
Bu Devi makes the designs and her husband dyes the fabrics. He showed me how they make the natural dyes using different kinds of woods. This was an eye opener for me, because I had the perception dyes were mass produced and I never really gave it much thought to it but watching dyes made in small batches using natural materials really made me appreciate the process even more.
Takeaway message for readers?
- D: I believe in the healing power of the nature. If you ever feel that you are stuck in your life or just feel trapped (living in a city can do that to you), just surround yourself with nature and you will feel better. I moved to Bali cause I was going thru something similar and it was the best decision for personal healing. Now, I live next to rice fields and surf regularly. This has had an immense positive effect on my body and soul.
Read on for more about Dash!
26 // Scorpio
Creative Approach // Keep making stuffs, eventually you will get good at it.
Fact // I eat lots of sweet stuff.
Message // Get out of your comfort zone, try something new. Even if you fail at the very least you learn something out of it.
FUSSY // ICE MILO, it has to be thick and sweet, I cant stand watered down ice milo.