Kartono Philosophy: Interview – POST C

During my time in Central Java I had the opportunity to meet with Singgih Kartono, a local product designer whose design philosophy aimed to inspire the locals, who lived in villages, a sense of pride in what they can produce from their village. He also aims to encourage those who have been educated to a tertiary level, to not move out of the country but rather develop their own brands and work through the villages they grew up in. These philosophies and his selfless nature inspired me to find out more about him and his background that led him to becoming the designer he is, and where he sees himself and his brands in the future.

I had a chance to interview Kartono during the festival Matai Air. We sat by one of the stalls and I spoke with him about his early design experiences as well as other aspects of his design work.

From my initial questions I found that he has been working on many of the products he creates for a long time. The wooden radio project, that he is best known for, is a development of what he did as his major design project in 1992 during his university education in design arts. He elaborated on how he designs using natural materials that are local to him, such as bamboo wood, with the exception of the internal electronic parts to his products which he sources from Panasonic.

It was soon after his university education that he was encouraged by his friends to pursue a career in designing hand crafted wooden products that were not just beautiful decorative pieces but highly reliable and functional products.  After 11 years of working for a toy design company designing wooden toys he left to start his own brand Magno.

Kartono likes to mix hand crafts and art into his design as he sees these two as being a part of each other. This way of thinking is a clear relation to design philosophies in the context of Central Java which is explored further in the earlier post “Context Defining Design”.

In the future, Kartono would like to develop a new ‘daily life’ product brand targeting people and students with products they use in their day to day life. This will aim to shift ideas that the village is a trap, to rather inspiring a realisation that the village can be a beneficial part of their lives when they aim to reach successful futures.



Notes from Interview with Singgih Kartono, 21/2/16

Living in Indonesia, 1997-2016, Practical Information for Expats Living in Indonesia, Jakarta, Last viewed 20/3/16, <http://www.expat.or.id/info/info.html&gt;

Singgih Kartono, 2016, Origin of the Wooden Radio, Wooden-Radio, Indonesia, Last viewed 20/3/16, <http://www.wooden-radio.com/gb/wooden-radio-herkunft.php&gt;

ibark, 2015, Magno Designs, Australia, Last viewed 20/3/16, <http://ibark.com.au/magno-designs&gt;


How to Act Indonesian with 20 Easy Steps – POST D

Indonesia has a vastly rich culture shown in their culinary styles, material craft practice, social etiquette/ behaviour and so much more. A broad and humorous summary of some of the social behaviours found within the culture can be enjoyed in Sacha Stevensen’s video playlist on ‘How to Act Indonesian’.

The first of her videos highlights the large amount of rice that Indonesians consumer and how they believe that eating plenty of rice regularly will maintain good health. From my experience this is certainly true with rice almost always being served with every meal. The video then shows how popular black berry phones are throughout the country even for those who are homeless. Offering drinks to guests and behaviour around dogs is covered next highlighting their differences from most cultures. Lastly the reckless nature of most drivers in Indonesia is shown through a driver offering to bribe an officer who caught them disobeying road rules.


The second video begins by showing the poor waste disposal habits that many Indonesians have where rubbish is often just dropped on the side of the road. The video goes on identifying the trend for Indonesians squatting in most places if staying still and often offering to pose for a photo with tourists. The next point the video raises makes a hyperbole on the butt hose and how it always results in a wet toilet seat which is a very uncomfortable experience for most tourists to deal with. Lastly the video covers the ‘socially acceptable’ way that Indonesians steal from customers by giving them back change that is close to what they should receive…


Her third video begins by looking into the religious practices of the large Muslim population within Indonesia and how the early Morning Prayer sessions can often be a disturbance to most tourists…  which I know from my own experiences. The video later looks into the social norms with pet ownership which tends to go for more exotic and endangered species over dogs which are often frowned upon. Lastly the video touches on the way some Indonesians will look to scam for money.

Her fourth and latest video touches on the important issue with work equality where sexism and ageism plays a large role in employment. The video finishes by touching on the health care practices within Indonesia and how they commonly involve witch doctors or if not, doctors that will simply prescribe you to an antibiotic in the hope that it helps.



Sacha Stevensen, 2013, How to Act Indonesian, YouTube, Last viewed 20/3/16, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp2Fnt0VbSo&list=PL1kksnrT6Y70pF3HNkLILt7e34yXbNHEw>


The LEED Initiative:  Making Better Buildings as our Legacy – POST B

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building rating system that has originated in the US and spread around the globe.  LEED is the most widely used program for green rating systems in the world accounting for 175 000 meters squared of construction space certification every day. LEED aims to benefit a triple bottom line through its rating system, benefiting people, the planet and profits.


The core issue that LEED aims to address is the consumption of natural resources, specifically Water consumption, electricity consumption and the emission of carbon dioxide gas from the built human environment. This is a major issue facing our developing world as we start to see the effects of climate change on the earth. In the US, buildings account for 38% of all CO2 emissions, consume 13.6% of all portable water and consume 73% of all electricity consumption. LEED has identified these statistics as representing a large issue that we face and aim to reduce the impacts that the built environment has on the wider world.

The projects LEED is involved with are responsible for diverting over 80 million tons of land fill waste since they were established. Compared to the average commercial building, the LEED Gold rank of buildings consume 25% less energy and generate 35% less CO2 emissions.


The LEED Initiative is funded by the US Green Building Council and is spread across over 150 countries and territories. They have been involved with over 72000 projects covering over 1.3 Billion meters squared. LEED collaborates with environmental scientists, construction and built environment professionals from around the globe making it a highly multidisciplinary initiative.


Since LEED started in 1994 it has broadened its scope of projects moving from just commercial buildings rating to interior design, construction, building operations, maintenance, neighbourhood development and personal homes. With these expanded projects came multiple certificates of approval from the LEED rating system. Specific certifications for each type of building ranged from certified, to silver, gold and then Platinum depending on the points earned by the building on the rating system which measured the power consumption, water consumption and CO2 emissions as well as any features of the building that gave back to the environment such as solar generators, gardens and water recycling systems.



U.S. Green Building Council, 2016, This is LEED, USA, Last viewed 20/3/16, <http://leed.usgbc.org/leed.html>

U.S. Green Building Council, 2016, Better Buildings are our Legacy, USA, Last viewed 20/3/2016, <http://www.usgbc.org/leed>

Wikipedia, 2016, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Last viewed 20/3/16, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership_in_Energy_and_Environmental_Design>

Context Defining Design: POST A

What design means will often be directly related to the context in which it is created and presented. There is no clear cut way to explain what design means in every context, making understanding what design is, in its entirety, a difficult task to accomplish for any individual.

From my recent global studio working in Indonesia, I have been exposed to a new perspective on what design is and what it can mean to people, culture, politics and much more. During the festival Matai Air, designers from all over the country had sent in prints they had created that reflected a part of their perspective on the issues to do with waste management and water management within the water catchments in Central Java.  In other contexts this kind of design work may be given different names. This kind of work in Sydney Australia would be seen as Contemporary Visual Arts. A change in context can result in design taking a different form from what an individual coming from a different context may perceive as design.


Design is often undertaken for different reasons in different contexts. Product design within Australia is often done with the goal of creating a profitable business that can produce products that will sell to create this profit. While in Central Java I saw that product design could be undertaken for different reasons. Singgih Kartono is a product designer working in Central Java. He designs his products with the aim of providing skilled work for the people living in local villages as well as aiming to instil a sense of pride in local students, who he thinks should realise that achieving wealth and brand success can be done while living in the villages of Central Java. This kind of product design is very similar to what we can find in Australia; however the motif and goals of the design are drastically different from each other. It is clear that a change in context will not just change the form of design that is produced but can rather change the goals that the design is trying to achieve.

It is clear that from comparing only two contexts of design that there are differences in the way design is physically embodies as well as the reason design in undertaken in the first place.



Sophie Finney, 2016, Intricate Designs: Indonesian Craft Textiles, The Culture Trip, Last viewed 20/3/16, <http://theculturetrip.com/asia/indonesia/articles/intricate-designs-indonesian-craft-textiles/&gt;

Living in Indonesia, 1997-2016, Practical Information for Expats Living in Indonesia, Jakarta, Last viewed 20/3/16, <http://www.expat.or.id/info/info.html&gt;

Siu-Tsen, 2006, Towards Culture Centred Design,Science Direct, London, Last viewed 20/3/16, <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0953543805001165&gt;