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TENGKU MARINA TENGKU IBRAHIM: PRINTS OF DISTINCTION

MALAYSIA TATLER

Tengku Marina Tengku Ibrahim of Pahang royalty may have blue blood running through her veins and deals with materials, but materialistic is definitely not her middle name

She is of Royal Heritage through her late father the Tengku Ariff Bendahara of Pahang. Her uncle, her late father’s brother is the current ruler of the state. “My father had 10 children and my mother has five. I’m the second on my mum’s side,” informs Tengku Marina.

She grew up in Pahang till she was eight after which Tengku Marina moved to KL, her late father being a businessman and KL being the business hub. At the age of 14, Tengku Marina left for UK to complete her O and A levels, moving on to do a foundation art course further reading a degree in three dimensional design, interior design and furniture at Kingston Polytechnic, now known as Kingston University. She was accepted to do a Masters in Interior Architecture but happily informs, “I chose to tie the nuptial knot instead.”

Calm and collected in demeanour, Tengku Marina now runs two companies, an interior design company and Pink Jambu – with 17 years of print design experience. In the late 80s, she partnered with a Singaporean company to start off an interior design and architectural firm. That business flourished for about 10 years during which time in 1992, she began her foray into batik designing.

Having previously come from the creative background of reading design, a gradual profundity naturally led the creative mum to start her own interior design company called Trinity ID Concept two years ago while Pink Jambu was already known for its creative couture wear, ready to wear outfits as well as interior, home furnishings and décor.

When Tengku Marina first began designing material, she didn’t particularly focus on batik. “I was mainly interested in coming up with prints for material, something different from what was available,” she informs.

“My signature is always portrayed in my designs yet although my designs have evolved, I think my character is still the same,” she feels.

The name Pink Jambu was coined firstly to represent the corporate colour of Tengku Marina’s company, naturally pink, and ‘jambu’ on the other hand, which is another name for the fruit Watery Rose Apple, is a word – “which men often use in the Malay language to describe a pretty girl,” she explains. “I wanted my designs to look that way ‘jambu’ and for it to have that impression of femininity with pretty designs,” shares Tengku Marina.

The home collection took off in the late 90s but has gone comprehensive with a variety of home inspired creations, to create Pink Jambu Home, a speciality boutique in Hartamas Shopping Centre. With regards to her couture and ready to wear fashion items, Tengku Marina works closely with famed fashion houses and designers.

For Tengku Marina, she is not one to rely on her royal status or connections. Her down to earth and unassuming character easily read her as one without airs. She smiles, informing she’s quite simple in terms of dressing. “I’m intrigued by the Japanese kimono prints. The Japanese are very receptive to our batik designs. In fact, I have travelled quite a fair bit and find batik very universal. It’s widely used in Indonesia, India, Africa and many other countries,” she informs.

Tengku Marina hopes to attract the younger generation, commonly not quite the traditional batik fans. Her designs vary and feature a variety of captivating shades and hues. Generally, her prints include abstract motifs, floral prints and geometric designs, done on various types of material, silk and cotton included. Her inspirations are triggered anywhere and everywhere yet she never draws exactly what she sees. “My prints are inspired from various experiences of the senses, all subtly depicted.” For this princess, she has surely found her ‘prints’ – though different, yet exquisitely charming and versatile, all the same bringing out the best in batik.