Alexander Gotama is both an aesthetic doctor and an event decorator. His firm LXE Moments specialises in decorating “intimate” events for upscale clients, such as Dior Indonesia. Liviani Putri reports.
Alexander Gotama leads a double life. He is an aesthetic doctor at ID Beauty Clinic in Menteng, and he’s also an event designer, the founder of LXE Moments. The latter specialises in “intimate” event design, decoration and styling services, together with a fine art gallery and studio called Maison de Terre.
Gotama became inspired to try his hands at event decorating when he was doing an elective course in New York (he studied at the Medical School at University of Indonesia for six years, including a year at an affiliated university in Melbourne). While in the Big Apple, he discovered several Spring Street Social Society gatherings decorated by Patrick Janelle, who describes himself as a “professional Instagrammer” – and was blown away by what he saw.
“Those events took place in a lot of unexpected venues, like abandoned hotels and warehouses,” Gotama says. “I was amazed by how Janelle and his team had transformed these random places into fascinating decorated venues with customised flower arrangements and stunning lighting set-ups.”
The self-taught decorator, who also greatly admires the work of Milan’s Vincenzo Dascanio and Kiana Underwood, the owner of Tulipina in San Francisco, says he was so inspired by what he saw and experienced that he began to think more deeply about developing his own creative side, “and suddenly the memories flew back to the high-school era, when I was active on the student council and served as the Event Chairman for Prom Night. It was such an enjoyable period, so why didn’t I give event decorating a try myself, I thought?”
After returning to Jakarta, Gotama started doing decorating projects in 2016, initially for friends. “First, I suggested a Christmas Dinner table setting,” he says. “They loved the idea, and I was so pumped about it that I did everything by myself. The concept was a plain background with the grey painted pine branch garland as the centrepiece. I opted for white, grey and silver.
“Then the idea of using a photographic studio popped into my head. I booked one for six hours and brought and arranged everything myself, including the table, plates and ceramic ware, and eating utensils. Even for the napkins. I found good linens and other materials from suppliers. I designed and made the menu cards myself.
“On Christmas Day, my friends were thrilled, and I received a lot of positive feedback. I uploaded images of the table setting to social media. After that, many friends, colleagues, and friends of friends and colleagues, got in touch and asked me to do table settings for their own family celebrations, like bridal and baby showers. Of course, I could only take on small projects at the time because I was still in internship as a young doctor.”
Gotama is known for bringing a fashion runway kind of look to his more ambitious designs. He incorporates details and ideas from many of the exotic locales he has visited all over the world, such as Borgo Egnazia, an opulent resort and spa in Puglia, Italy, where Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel tied the knot in 2012; Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh, which took French painter Jacques Majorelle 40 years of dedication to create and is one of the most visited sites in Morocco; and the medieval Amalfi Cathedral in Italy, famous for its bronze doors, the earliest in Italy of post-Roman manufacture, and the 62 steps that lead up to them.
Scroll through LXE’s Instagram page and you will see many images of gorgeous flower arrangements. Yet Gotama admits that he had very little knowledge of flowers and plants when he started out. He had to bone up on the subject when his friend asked him to do her baby shower, and she was very specific about the flowers she wanted.
“I felt challenged, and so I spent many hours reading about plants and flowers in books and on the internet,” Gotama smiles. “I even had to go and find out how best to source imported flowers.” He spent a lot of time learning types of flowers and how to properly order them from the wholesalers in Jakarta.
“After I found everything I needed, I began to learn how to arrange the flowers beautifully,” Gotama says. “Watching YouTube videos on the subject helped, but it was all done through trial and error, and, of course, I made a lot of mistake. But I gradually became better and better at it. If I’m looking back on it now, I would say I was not entirely satisfied with the results. But it was all part of the journey, right?”
One project led to another and another, and through photo shoots and social media posts and word-of-mouth recommendations, Gotama was eventually contacted by Dior Indonesia. He was commissioned by Cicilia King, Country Manager of Christian Dior Couture, to decorate a private luncheon for 20 VIP clients at Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta, and he admits he felt lot of pressure at the time.
“I was still quite new to the challenge of pleasing corporate clients back then, but at the same time I obviously wanted to give of my best on such an important occasion,” Gotama says. He decided to fill the space with fresh white orchids. “As Dior is French, I used a classic European approach to make it all look very simple, yet elegant and intimate,” he goes on. “Fortunately, everything ran smoothly on the big day. It was a great success.”
Building on that breakthrough, Gotama began winning further corporate clients, such as Alexander McQueen and Optik Seis. He has also worked with Agam Riadi in designing a huge fashion show in 2017. He’s still busy, as well, with his private clients, decorating bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, photo shoots in Indonesia and even overseas.
How in Gotama’s opinion should clients choose their event decorators? What qualities should they be looking for? “I always feel that clear and honest communication is the key to building a good relationship with clients,” he replies. “I feel blessed to have a friendly personality. It makes me easier to approach and to build friendships with new people.
“So far, it has been a generally smooth ride for me, even though some clients are, naturally, more difficult to please than others. I always try to listen hard to them first, and then to explain my ideas. The goal is to understand both perspectives when there are differences of opinion, and then you can clear up any misunderstandings and find workable solutions.
“I think my clients are becoming more open-minded about the European style approach, and are developing a sense of elegance in simplicity, which is certainly what I love. In the beginning, people expected something fuller and more expansive – you know, the bigger the better.
“But nowadays they are showing more appreciation of using simple things of very high quality, especially the very best flowers and fabrics. As a result, I think our event quality standards in Indonesia are edging closer to those of countries like Europe and The USA.”