Encountering one of Nefianto Setiono’s elaborate wedding decorations is a heavenly experience. Guests enter the ballroom to be greeted by a meticulously landscaped, shimmering floral pavement. Blooming centerpieces tower over their heads, as intertwined floral arrangements cascade from the ceiling. It’s like stepping into a lavish wonderland, a fabulous fantasy world of love.
There can be no doubt that such colourful grandeur demands a high level of creativity, inspiration and undivided attention to detail. Setiono’s work ethic is impressive. An eye-popping number of hours is required to plan and execute his ornate designs, but Setiono and his colleagues do it all with magnificent skill and ease.
Nefi Decor is one of the most sought after floral and wedding decorators in Indonesia. Its high-profile client base includes socialites and celebrities, the nation’s elites. It was while studying Electronic Engineering and Business Management at DeVry Institute of Technology in Toronto that Setiono realised his true passion was not for engineering, but for the arts.
“At first, I never thought that I would become a floral and wedding decorator,” he recalls. “But my passion for decorating grew over time. Eventually, I found myself jumping into the wedding business. I enjoy this work so much because it’s all about creating beautiful concepts. No one taught me how to decorate weddings. I learned it by myself, and I can say that it takes anyone great patience and dedication to become successful in this field. The most important point about decorating a venue is to create a genuinely original concept. We all take ideas from others, but I have never simply copied someone else’s work. There’s no enjoyment or learning in that.
“The most important part of my work is that I love to make my clients happy on their special day. When I see their faces beaming with happiness, that’s a great satisfaction for me. It truly is an honour to give my clients the best experience they can dream of for their once-in-a-lifetime moment.”
Together with his wife and business partner Ery Touwani and their friend Susany Alimwidjaja, Setiono launched Nefi Decor, “The House of Inspiring Decorations”, 17 years ago. They started with a small team. Over the years the company has grown to employ 170 people. Each year, says Setiono, Nefi Decor carries out between 50 and 80 projects.
Nefi Decor is known for its original designs. Setiono is often described as a remarkable artist, a visionary whose designs are always elegant, fresh and, most importantly, original. Friends and clients say he has a unique talent to incorporate a bride and groom’s characters into his work.
Never one to compromise safety for beauty, the firm considers every aspect of decor to bring a fantasy-like experience to its clients. Setiono’s breathtaking and over-flowing floral designs have captured the eyes and hearts of many brides and grooms looking for an intimate and memorable experience with their loved ones on their special day. Wedding party guests become lost in his magical creations and have an unforgettable experience.
Setiono describes Ery as “the pillar of all social and business meetings with Nefi Décor’s clients. She is very well in-sync with my concepts and ideals, which makes her the perfect person to supervise the procurement, production and installation of flowers and equipment.”
Ery has a background in both hospitality and business processes. She studied Hotel Management in Switzerland and Electronic Data Processing in Melbourne. She says that supporting her husband in his development of Nefi Decor was the best decision she has ever made. She praises the vision that has made her husband a trendsetter in the wedding decoration business, and she loves him for being an inspiration to others.
Susany, whose friends know her as San San, studied Banking and Finance in Melbourne. She handles the firm’s all-important accounting work, as well as acting as operations manager during the installation of decorations on location. She assists Ery with the company’s administration and production work, ensuring that even Setiono’s most intricate designs can be created within the deadlines.
“We learn by process in this business,” muses Setiono. “Now we live in a digital world, where people can find inspiration online, and also make their choices of wedding decorator. But judging a wedding decorator based solely on their portfolio on their website or Instagram page can be deceiving. They might post beautiful photographs of their work, but is it really presentable in reality? For me, looks can be deceiving, so it’s better to seek recommendations when choosing the right decorator for your wedding day. You seek advice from your family and friends, or anyone whose opinion you trust.
“The decorating business is all about service. We put a lot of time and effort into each event that we undertake. We have developed the ability design in so many styles, from traditional to contemporary. You have to present it in the best way for your clients. People say that what makes us different from other wedding decorator is that I can guide my clients to find out what is their true style preference. Sometimes, my clients don’t really know what style they want for their wedding. We help them find something that reflects their personalities. Also, what we present in our portfolio is truly a reflection of reality. We look into every detail.
“Before I start to design a wedding, I ask the bride and the groom for a meeting. And not just the couple, but also their families. Because, as you know, in Indonesia a wedding is a marriage of two families, not only the bride and groom. In the meeting, I asked them about their backgrounds and the things they like. I ask how they live their lives, what their hobbies are and what places that they love to go to, and many more details.
“There are a lot of questions to be asked because I have to get to know them. If I don’t know them well, at the end of the day it will be difficult to come up with the right design. Fortunately, I have never been in a position where clients disliked what I created for them, whether it was the flower arrangements, the structure or overall look. I strive to give them something that’s original, and even out of the box. Because it’s their special day and they deserve a one-of-a-kind concept.”
How has the wedding decoration business changed since Setiono founded Nefi Decor? “Our clients nowadays are mostly millennials, and they are very critical and hard to please,” he replies. “But I like that, I like the challenge. When they come to me, they have usually collected inspirations from online, images from Instagram or Pinterest pages. This is great because it gives me a good idea of what they like. But I also ask them to show me designs they don’t like.
“The wedding business in Indonesia is developing in a great way. There’s been a lot of increased competition on the wedding decoration side. This is good for us because stronger competition pushes us to be the best version of ourselves. It’s not a threat for us.
“For me, my biggest achievement is when my clients remember me as the one who made their wedding-day dream become a reality. All of the hard work and sacrifices are forgotten when we can give that to a bride and groom. This work is challenging, to be sure, but that’s what makes us better. The most important thing you have to do to survive in the wedding business is to love the work you. You need to put a great deal of dedication and time into it. We have to give our best service to our clients because the wedding business is all about love. And we need to translate that love into our work.”