Project – Max Collective

Sleeping pod in the tree
Sleeping pod in the tree

Indonesia, like many countries, faces the ongoing problem of waste management as municipal solid waste is increasing due to growth in consumption rates, population growth and economic growth, particularly in cities and urban areas. Lack of awareness of the importance of managing waste, compounded with inadequate waste management systems are resulting in overflowing landfill, pollution and degradation of natural resources such as waterways and farmland (Global Business Guide Indonesia 2015). For example, recent dredging of a waterway connected to a water bottling plant in Salatiga revealed a layer of compounded plastic approximately 10mm thick from inadequate waste disposal practises which resulted in plastic bags and bottles ending up in the water way (A. Lestarini 2015).

Lack of awareness and knowledge about where this waste goes, along with a lack of concern about the issue, has resulted in the majority of Indonesians disposing of all types of material, organic and inorganic, together into landfill where the sorting and recycling is unofficially dependant on waste pickers who earn a livelihood from reselling certain materials (Waste Management World 2015). One of the problems here lies in what to do with the materials that have no resell value. Items such as clear plastic bottles and metals are able to be resold to be recycled into new raw materials, but items such as plastic laundry detergent pouches and plastic food packages remain in landfill (R. Hapsari 2015). A major area of increased waste is of food packaging and household waste.

Wasted car seat covers waiting to be upcycled
Wasted car seat covers waiting to be upcycled

Retno Hapsari of XS Project believes that Indonesians have a single use and throw away culture driven by the desire to continually have newer, more prestigious products. Hapsari believes there is a stigma around reusing materials. Renowned Indonesian designer Singgih Kartono is trying to change the perception of bamboo by creating products such as a bamboo hat and bicycle, in the attempts to elevating the status of the material and create dialogue around the issues of waste and sustainable material use. By creating desirable objects from reused and sustainable materials, they’re not just reducing the impact on the environment from waste, but more importantly spreading awareness and educating the public about these issues (S. Kartono 2015).

As a response to this problem, our group has presented a new education initiative known as Max Collective (MC). MC is a NFP NGO aiming to educate young Indonesians about the national issue of waste management. The initiative is centred around changing perceptions of waste through engaging young people in design thinking workshops targeted at primary aged children.

Learning how to make paper pulp
Learning how to make paper pulp

As the inheritors of the waste problem in Indonesia, it is crucial to chance the stigma around waste products, and by teaching children ideas of upcycling, these workshops place new value on household waste. These workshops involve asking the children to collect selected common waste products over the course of approximately a month, and then holding a workshop day where the children can transform these materials into pencil holders. The workshop day involves presentations and a pencil-holder making workshop to educate and inspire the children, hopefully prompting them to bring a new, more sustainable perspective on waste management into the home.

By engaging in traditional and innovative ways of transforming this waste, such as through weaving and paper pulping, into pencil holders, these workshops not only educate youth on sorting waste, but get them intrigued and excited about their possibilities and potential. Through these workshops, MC hopes to transform the stigma surrounding waste in future generations.

Maria Papas | Eva Basford | Liam Oxley | Dehong Tay, Don

For More Information:


A. Lestarini 2015, pers. comm., 3 July

Department of Immigration 2011, Fact Sheet 1 – Immigration: The Background Part One, Canberra, viewed 5 March 2012,<

Global Business Guide Indonesia 2015, Sweeping Opportunities in Indonesia’s Waste Management Industry, viewed 11 July 2015, <;

Surabaya Eco School 2015, Profile, viewed 11 July 2015, <;

S. Kartono 2015, pers. comm., 4 July

R. Hapsari 2015, pers. comm., 10 July

R. Ardianto 2015, pers. comm., 3 July

Waste Management World 2015, Injury time for Indonesian Landfills, viewed 11 July 2015, <

Post D: Dangdut

There are many interesting cultures in Indonesia but one particularly captures my attention, the Dangdut, due to the impact they have and their evolvement over the years. Dangdut is one of the most popular Indonesian music genres and is originally linked to Malay and Indian music in the 1970s before evolving slowly to become “ethnic” and “regional” (Weintraub 2013). The evolvement is due to circumstances such politics, better Internet accessibility, censorship issue etc (Weintraub 2013). Dangdut was often associated with the under-class. However in recent years, TV programmes such as ‘Dangdut Mania’ has attempted to make Dangdut more popular and increase their commercial appeal to the middle and upper class by integrating Dangdut visuals and music into their households (Weintraub 2010). Dangdut is now an important marker that helps in shaping and reflecting the “cultural and aesthetic standards based on social class” (Weintraub 2010).

A young Rhoma Irama changed the outlook for Dangdut during 1970s
A young Rhoma Irama changes the outlook for Dangdut during 1970s

Due to the surfacing of the national music industry, a lot of traditional religious music is being fused with well-liked music genre and Dangdut is one of them. In 1970s, Dangdut musicians’ integrated western instruments such as electric guitar with traditional instruments such as the gendang, to convey lslamic message to their audience. One of the pioneer musicians is Rhoma Irama, “The King of Dangdut”. He is one of the reasons why Dangdut evolved so quickly – thru integrating “everyday life, love, social criticism against class inequality and Islamic message” (Weintraub 2006) into his music. Some of his songs such as “Haram” (Forbidden) and “Judi” (Gambling) carry a strong Islamic message whereby he acts as a missionary to promote Islamic values to people through the use of Dangdut music.

With the influx of western cultures and pop music in recent years, Dangdut has also evolved to become more pop-like in order to appeal to a mass audience. With pop artistes such as Nicky Minaj promoting sex appeal, Dandut has also taken a similar approach in order to appeal to a younger audience. Such directions contrast drastically with the traditional Islamic values, and have angered many Dandut music lovers and Islam believers alike. (Vaswani, 2012) Despite this, the sexy, modern Dangdut is here to stay, as there are more lovers than haters of this derivation of Dangdut.

-Dehong Tay, 11620717

  1. Vaswani K 2012, Raunchy Dangdut Music Stirs Debate in Indonesia, viewed 24 April 2015<;
  2. Weintraub A 2006, ‘Dangdut Soul: Who are the People in Indonesian Popular Music?’, Asian Journal of Communication, Vol 16, No 4, pp 411-431
  3. Weintraub A 2013, The Sound and Spectacle of Dangdut Koplo: Genre and Counter-Genre in East Java, Indonesia, Asian Music, Vol 44, No 2, pp 160-194
  4. Weintraub A 2010, Dangdut Stories: A Social and Musical History of Indonesia’s most Popular Music, Oxford University Press, USA
  5. LipstikTV 2013, Rhoma Irama Haram, viewed 28 April 2015<;
  6. Berita Kalimantan n.d, Musik Rhoma Irama, viewed 28 April 2015<;
  7. GP Records 2014, Julia Perez- Merana, viewed 28 APril 2015<;

Post C: Kimberly Angela Antonio | Inequality

Kimberly Angela Antonio, an aspiring interior designer, currently studying in University of Technology, Sydney. Born and raised in Jakarta, Kimberly has recently moved to Sydney in 2013, this give her a good grasp of the culture in both Indonesia and Australia. She has also interned for Willis Kusuma Architects as an interior designer last year.

Don: Hi Kimberly, What have you been up to lately?

Kimberly: I just came back from Jakarta not long ago, I interned with Willis Kusuma for a couple of months.

Don: Great! Can you tell me more about the working culture back in Indonesia?

Kimberly: There is a very top-down hierarchical management system whereby the management level makes most decisions without consulting the workers.

Don: Can you elaborate more on the differences between Australia and Indonesia?

Kimberly: In terms of working culture, Australians are more receptive to different ideas, they tend to discuss in groups and make a decision cohesively. Everyone can contribute ideas without feeling pressurize.

Don: So what is the driving factor to the differences?

Kimberly: Indonesian tends to misuse their power when they have it; they tend to make decision for their own benefits. Not all Indonesian are like that, this is just based on my working relationship with them. Another point to take note is there is a huge social gap in Indonesia such as financial and educational differences.

Social Gap is a major problem for Indonesia
Social Gap is a major problem for Indonesia

Through this interview, I understand that social differences play a big part in every culture. In my opinion, the bigger the social gap is, the harder it is for the country to progress. There are a number of challenges that causes inequality in Indonesia; although statistics shows that the poverty rates were greatly reduced, Wilson (2011) observed that the statistics do not seem to reflect the real life situation that is happening when he was in Jakarta. He reasoned that this is due to concealment of inequality problems by the government since the Suharto era and many elites benefit greatly from it by taking up a huge chunk of the national income in order for them to maintain their lavish lifestyle (Wilson 2011). Another problem for the government is to create “sustainable job opportunities for low income family” (Wilson 2011). The difference between escalating growth of capital-intensive sectors and minimal growth of labour-intensive sector will cause the inequality to widen due to an imbalanced growth pattern.

President Joko Widodo promises hope and changes for Indonesia
President Joko Widodo promises hope and changes for Indonesia

With all these problems, there is some catching up to do. However, the future seems brighter after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is elected, he recently proposed to amend the state budget such as increasing tax revenue and increased the budget for upgrading of infrastructure (Misbakhun 2015). All these important changes show Jokowi’s commitment to close the gap between low-income people and in my opinion; Indonesia is heading the right direction under the leadership of Jokowi. As Misbakhun (2015) said “His great vision and humbleness is surely not artificial but should be reflected upon his leadership”. There is certainly hope and expectation for the people of Indonesia.

– Dehong Tay, 11620717

  1. Misbakhun 2015, Jokowi’s first budget: Between optimism and new, viewed 25 April 2015<;
  2.  Luebke v C 2011, Inequality, viewed 25 April 2015<;
  3. Wikipedia 2005, Jakarta Slumlife, viewed 25 April 2015<;
  4. Global Indonesia Voice 2014, Jokowi Officially Indonesia’s Next President, viewed 25 April 2015<;

Post B: Mushroom Packaging

Plastic is a material that is harmful to both our body and the environment. They are made of crude oil, which causes it to be non-renewable thus making it a major problem to our environment due to the fact that we are so dependent on it. The scary thing about plastic is its inability to degrade, as they will turn into a form of ‘dust’, a very small particle of plastic that is often found in our environment, forest, lakes, rivers and oceans. (The Flaming Vegan 2012) These create a ‘plastic soup’ area in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of America.

Other than China, Indonesia is the next biggest contributor to plastic ocean waste (Lee 2015). Being one of the most populous countries in the world, they generated 3.22 million tons of plastic waste in 2010, about 10% of the world total (Lee 2015). Ade Palguna Ruteka, head of the environment ministry’s Bureau of Planning and International Cooperation says that more people are aware of the excess waste and Indonesia are unsettled by this revelation (Lee 2015)

This brings me to my main topic: what can we do to help countries like Indonesia and China. I chanced about a TED talk by Eben Bayer who is a founder of Ecovative Design. (TED n.d) He and his team created a new form of packaging made by none other than mushroom, which is an interesting and a lot more environmental friendly alternative to harmful material, like plastic and polystyrenes. This mushroom packaging uses mushroom fiber and agriculture waste (cotton seed, wood fiber and buckwheat hulls) that allows them to use 98 percent less energy than Styrofoam.

Mushroom Packaging should be the future

Ecovative’s mushroom packaging has already been used in big companies such as Steelcase (Fortune 500). They received fundings of $180,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and gain great supports from government agencies such as USDA Agricultural Research Service and New York State Energy Research. (Greenbiz 2010) This allows them to keep growing, from being a university project into having 60 workers in their company (Nearing 2012). The good news is there are strong demands from companies in Asia who wants to ship Mushroom packaging into Asia and I believe they will be the next generation of packaging that will curb all environmental challenges which will helps countries like Indonesia to greatly reduce their ocean waste (Ecovative 2015).

-Dehong Tay, 11620717

  1. Nearing 2012, Ecovative Keep Growing, viewed 23 April 2015<;
  2.  GreenBiz 2010, Mushroom Based Packaging Uses 98% Less Energy than Styrofoam, viewed 23 April 2015<;
  3.  Ecovative 2015, Mushroom Packaging, viewed 23 April 2015<;
  4.  Flaming Vegan 2012, Why is Plastic So Harmful to the Environment, viewed 23 April 2015<;
  5.  Bayer, E n.d, Sustainability by Design, TED, viewed 23 April 2015<;
  6.  Lee R 2015, Which Countries Create the Most Ocean Thrash, viewed 23 April 2015<;

Post A: Singapore and Indonesia

Indonesia is the fourth largest country and the largest archipelago in the world. It is on the crossroad between the Pacific and Indian oceans, which allows them to be a bridge between Australia and Asia. (SAS n.d) With such geographical advantage, it gives Indonesia an influx of foreign influence that greatly impact and benefits the creative industry.

Throughout the years, foreign influences streaming into Indonesia consistently, for many various reasons such as trade and tourism. In the past, the active trade markets of goods such as ceramic and silk from China and India has resulted in the fusion between foreign art and culture with traditional Javanese arts. (SAS n.d) The Javanese art that we see today is a result of the cultural fusion, and these influences continue till today.

Dutch entrepreneurs settled in Indonesia, wearing batik clothes.
Dutch entrepreneurs settled in Indonesia, wearing batik clothes.

In 2013, Indonesia “signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to boost cooperation to promote creative industries” (Jeon 2013). This relationship between the two countries can help boost the industry through the “exchanges of information, more joint-training sessions and more educational, research and development projects” (Jeon, 2013). This can help create more jobs in the future as the market grows and help boost the economy. (Yulisman, 2014) In 2014, Indonesia went on to collaborate with the United States to further develop the Indonesian creative industry through the help of several American companies. (Antara News, 2014)

From the past till today, Indonesia has consistently, both passively (tourism and trade) and actively (collaborations with foreign countries) introduced foreign influence on their domestic art and creative industry. This will allow them to further improve on their ever-growing local art scenes as well as being able to need the needs and demands of the international markets.

I believe that the location and size of Indonesia is advantageous to the nation, particularly by embracing the demands of their domestic market and also welcoming foreign collaborations and investors. Mari Elka Pangestu of the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry said “The domestic market will be the main driver in consumption of this industry” and the creative industry makes up at least 17 percent of the domestic consumption. (Yulisman, 2014) This further illustrates that the locals embrace their local creative talents and thus allowing the sector of the country to blossom.

Indonesia is the bridge between Australia and Asia.

As a Singaporean and a South-East Asian, I find it appropriate to compare the design scene in Singapore and Indonesia. Despite the differences between Singapore as a developed country and Indonesia as a developing country, I can boldly say that the local art scenes between these two countries are very contrasting. Indonesia is way ahead of Singapore in terms of domestic consumption of art. In my opinion, this is due to the education systems in both countries; Singapore’s education system is too rigid and is focused on research and development. There is a lot of social pressure to keep up the fast-paced lifestyle, which creates an environment that discourages creativity (Institute of Policy Studies 2008). Singaporean parents do no consider arts education “practical” choice. However in Indonesia, one of the standard competencies for elementary school graduates is “use information of their environment logically, critically and creatively” as well as to “demonstrate the ability to think creatively and innovatively” for junior high school graduates (UNESCO 2011). Such standards encourage creativity in Indonesians since young and create an art-embracing environment for children to grow up in.

Dehong Tay- 11620717

  1. Han J, Sojung Y 2013, Korea, Indonesia to Cooperate in Creative Industries, viewed 21 April 2015<;
  2. Antara News 2014, Indonesia, US to collaborate to develop creative industry, viewed 21 April 2015<;
  3. Yulisman L 2014, Creative Industry to grow 6 percent, viewed 21 April 2015<;
  4. ASA n.d, Foreign Influences, viewed 21 April 2015<;
  5. Institute of Policy Studies 2008, Cultivating a Singapore Creative Class, NUS, Singapore
  6. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization 2011, ‘World Data on Education: Indonesia’ 7th Edition, Viewed 21 April 2015 <;
  7. Ingarcade n.d, Indonesia Map Simple, viewed 21 April 2015<;