Interview: Fahrani Pawaka Empel for Nike

Nike launched the new Epic React Flyknit shoe and shot an impressive editorial with Berlin-based artist & model Fahrani Pawaka Empel

When it comes to running equipment, opinions could not differ more on the style and functionality of the most important running gadget of all: the shoe! With the launch of Nike’s new Epic React Flyknit, the brand has upped its game in terms of looks – the shoe comes in two colours, one white and the other blue – as well as comfort. Nike took its customers’ concerns into very thorough consideration and developed a shoe that is much lighter yet still offers better cushioning and stability than other foam-formed athletic shoes.

Together with two other protagonists (Zeina Nassar & Eunique), Nike shot an impressive editorial with lovely Fahrani Pawaka Empel, a Berlin- based artist and model with Indonesian roots – We had the chance to ask this multi- talented woman a couple of questions:

What brought you to Berlin?

I moved to Berlin three and a half years ago, after I decided to leave Bali. I needed to be in the city again, even though I love the island and it gave me so much. I think I just needed some new soil to grow.

How did the city feel when you first arrived and how has your perception changed over the years? What are your favorite spots?

I lived in Prenzlauer Berg at first, but then moved to Kreuzberg. I think I feel the most comfortable in Kreuzberg because it is multicultural and the Turkish community made me feel at home. It’s not such a big city – it’s a perfect size. And you can go to the west if you feel like saying “I’m taking a holiday.” This is the Berlin I never knew existed (laughs). There’s such a huge creative energy in Berlin. The more I explore, the more I get into the depths of it. I feel like there are so many different bubbles: You go to one, and you can explore the other one, and you can go into these different sections and everyone is doing a lot of different things. It is also a perfect place for me in terms of timing. If I had moved to Berlin a bit earlier, perhaps I would have gotten lost. But now is the perfect time – I can handle it.

How does Jakarta and your Indonesian heritage influence and shape you, despite being abroad?

When I was younger I tried to not be associated with Indonesia. But as I got older, of course, the more I appreciated what’s there. And now I like to bring where I’m from – or who I am, or my roots – into everything that I do. Even my eyewear label, for example: I am calling the shapes by Indonesian numbers. When you finally feel grounded you appreciate where you are from – or rather you appreciate life in general and don’t complain so much (laughs).

When did you know that you didn’t want to follow a “normal” career path?

I think as long as I remember. I was never into school, and I think even my mama told me that I used to tell her that I wanted to travel ever since I was very young.

Did you have role models that inspired you?

The one role model that I had was Tracy Trinita. I always wanted to be a model so that I could travel and leave my home country, and there was only one Indonesian model who was working outside of Indonesia. So she was kind of my idol when I was really young. And after her, there was basically me – I was the second girl that worked outside of Indonesia. It has always been a dream and I made it happen.

Which profession (model, actress, designer, artist, musician) mirrors your personality the best?

I actually like performing because of the feedback and because the energy exchange is constant. When you perform you get high off of it at that very moment. When you do a movie, for example, you don’t get the result immediately – it takes a long time. When I’m performing I feel that rush, but I don’t do much of it. I also like dancing, but not professionally. So, the connection: performing and a little bit of body movement – that is what I like the most.

What or who pushed you to follow your own ideas? And when did you realize it paid off (aka the “instant go”)?

I think all of my life is based on an “instant go” moment. I don’t really plan so much. Everything is based on my intuition: I have to feel that it is the right way. Now that I am more grounded, I plan a little bit.

What is your go-to sport?

In Bali I do yoga and surfing. Here, when I have time, I go to the gym. And I bike a lot anyway. The cardio comes from biking.

What is your earliest memory of a Nike product and what was it?

We have an old singer from Indonesia and her name is Nike Ardilla. That’s kind of how I got to know the brand Nike because she has the same name. And, of course, I played a lot of basketball when I was younger. So, I’ve worn Nikes since I was seven years old.

Further inspiration can be found on here, via Nike’s Instagram account (@nike) here or on Fahrani’s account (@favelamunk) here.

Images: Jan Kapitaen