Turning the corner into a tranquil tree-lined street in Jakarta’s Kebayoran Baru, one will find the residence of His Excellency Ricardo Luis Bocalandro, ambassador of the Argentine Republic to Indonesia. The dreamlike abode, a two-level six-bedroom house covering a 2900sqm area, assumes a modest exterior. Yet, upon opening its wooden doors, one is presented with an idyllic picture of a tropical home. Neat rows of vast windows line the far side of the living area, indulging visitors with a sprawling view of the swimming pool and the lush tropical garden. Within the four walls of the reception room, a mingling of elements lends the space singular vibrancy: an amalgamation of history, heritage and culture of two countries blending in a fascinating fusion.
“We are very lucky to inherit the pieces that belonged to the government,” remarks H.E. Ricardo Bocalandro in a jovial tone, drawing attention to a pair of antique Indonesian chairs in the room. The intricately carved dark wooden chairs, genuine antique pieces dating back to the Dutch colonial era, were purchased by Indonesia’s first ambassador of the Argentine Republic in the 1960s. A lover of antiques, Madame Maria Elena Urriste de Bocalandro confesses her delight in inheriting the furniture. “Our previous homes in New York and Sydney were contemporary, minimalist homes with some of our own antique furniture ,” she states. “I love antiques, so when we first saw the house, I was thrilled at the possibility of decorating our home with these beautiful old Dutch-Indonesian furniture.”
Mixing the home’s strong Indonesian influence with the couple’s Argentinean roots, Madame Maria Elena infuses elements of her home country into the residence. On the walls and atop the grand coffee tables are Argentinean art and décor pieces rich in cultural significance. A painting by Argentinean artist Florencio Mollina Campos depicting the Argentinean countryside, with gauchos and their horses, hangs in the elegant dining room.
The cherished artwork holds a dear meaning to Madame Maria Elena. Raised in the Argentinean countryside, the cheerful lady sees the painting as a moment frozen in frame, a slice of her hometown’s rustic life. “I grew up with going to my grandparents' ranch every weekend. I remember the gauchos with their horses, going to the pub after a long day of work,” expounds Madame Maria Elena. “Everything in this painting, from the landscape to the architecture, is a truthful representation of the Argentinean life in the countryside.”
The couple’s reverence for their home country is further evinced in objects placed throughout the home. A gaucho’s silver knife is perched atop an immense coffee table, alongside a small silver pot commonly used to serve Mate, an Argentinean herb-infused drink. On another coffee table is a water flask typically carried by the gauchos, constructed from bull horn and intricately decorated with silver. Explaining the abundance of silver pieces in the home, H.E. Ricardo Bocalandro elucidates, “Argentina comes from the latin word ‘argentum.’ Our country was named after its wealth of the precious metal.”
With an artful mix of Indonesian elements with traces of Argentina, the tranquil residence assumes a warm, personable air. Every corner is suffused with personal touches: pieces laden with nostalgia and significance that tell captivating stories despite their inanimateness. “This house has become a home away from home,” remarks Madame Maria Elena with a warm smile. “It’s like a small piece of Argentina in Indonesia. Sometimes when I am in this house, I forget that I am not in Argentina. And when I hear the beautiful call to prayer from the nearby mosque, I am reminded that I am in Indonesia.”