Project: Nasi Eco Food Cart

Our group has analysed the environmental challenges in the area of Salatiga and Yogyakarta and concluded with a design solution which we hope both educates the public and endorses farmers to choose a more sustainable practice. Our design is a self sufficient sustainable eco food cart which we have lovingly called Nasi Eco.

The foundation of our research began prior to the Festival Mata Air where we had the opportunity to carry out a brief and quickly get an understanding of the area’s history along with the design challenges that are faced in Indonesia. This was an extremely helpful mini brief in getting our group into an alternative headspace to think critically about overcoming environmental challenges and how to overcome them with localised designerly solutions.


The space our group along with Samson Ossedryver were tasked with making

At Festival Mata Air ideas began to develop as we noted the unique market vibe within the festival and the success of alternative food stalls such as; Brew Works. We had our first idea here where we very quickly came to the conclusion that we should create an automated system of delivering water equally to all crops in a given locality.


One of the food carts Brew Works, which gave us inspiration for the Nasi Eco cart

However, after our feedback session we learnt that we needed to evolve or incorporate our design work to help people and improve their livelihood, not control it. We also discussed Jamie’s boredom of eating white rice which lead us to looking into food, crops and farming in Indonesia with the main question resonating “Why only eat white rice?”

The next stage was our primary investigation, which was the bulk of our research, to look into the history behind farming and the growing of rice in Java. We learnt about a type of farming called Permaculture which ironically originated in Australia. There was a farm that one source noted which has also been recommended by our tutors to visit and thus we went in search of this farm.

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Testing out the viability of the water systems utilised in our prototype

Visiting the farm proved to be the most unique experience as we saw how it all works in reality instead of being glued to our computers. Having the opportunity to go visit sites that were explicitly linked with our research vastly improved our understanding.

At face value the farm seems like a quaint cottage on fertile land which overlooks Yogyakarta city. The lovely farmer; Salas took us on a tour of their farm where we learnt about their lifestyle along with permaculture design. Salas explained to us that growing crops and farming animals should be a holistic and cyclical process where the presence of waste and precious matter are valuable components of the ecosystem.

From these experiences we were able to visualise our design solution. The Nasi Eco is a concept design for a sustainable food cart, which aims to introduce ideas of sustainable permaculture design into Indonesian society.

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The Nasi Eco cart prototype

The cart can be easily transported around the city of Yogyakarta, and to events such as Festival Mata Air. Promoting and spreading knowledge of the alternative farming movement is key to educating others about sustainability which ultimately allows others to become involved.

Nasi Eco is a cart made from locally sourced or recycled materials such as coconut timber (which is abundant) and water bottles to seamlessly integrate a village’s sustainable practices in daily life. Each eco cart will be linked to a permaculture farm, thus the farm is being brought to the streets and will begin discussion on sustainable practices.

There are many features of the cart which and so we have listed them as follows;


  • Permaculture inspired water system (constructed from recycled pipes) to grow herbs and fresh food for the cart. The car has a direct connection with a permaculture farm (such as Bumi Langit), which can provide additional food and produce.
  • Coconut timber construction, a quick growing and sustainable timber available in the region.
  • Roof top garden to maximize growing space and utilise sunlight.
  • Tapered rooftop to collect and funnel rainwater into the rooftop garden and through the piping system.
  • Rooftop solar panel, which utilises sunlight to charge a night light for the cart.
  • Ventilation slots for adequate airflow when cooking, and to ensure the plants do not overheat.
  • Open plan design to minimise materials and optimize airflow into the space.
  • Chalkboard menu system, which can be easily changed according to produce available at the farm.
  • Flip out serving tray to maximise space.
  • Sustainable gas cooking system bottled from waste systems at the farm.
  • Bins constructed from woven bamboo and banana leaves, which can collect organic waste to be used at the farm as compost.
  • Three-wheeled design with wheels constructed from coconut wood and up-cycled rubber tires.

In conclusion; this experience has been very unique as both a uni subject and “holiday.” Entering another country and thinking critically about their culture, lifestyle, government and the way things work lead to some very interesting insights. It was especially insightful to be able to do first hand research; instead of sitting behind a computer and assuming the way of life we got to actually experience it. Participating in festivals, making, creating, visiting farms, learning about the permaculture way of life, eating organic meals with locals, eating slow food with our uni group. All of these experiences were the foundation of our design solution to the environmental challenge of post industrialised farming methods and pesticides in foods. We believe our Eco Cart resolves the environmental challenges of the area by using permaculture farming to create food that is brought to the streets so that people can be educated about a better way of farming for the environment along with fresher food for the people.

All imagery in this post has been originally sourced.

(POST C) Wicked Corruption, Artistic Rage & Environmental Activism in Indonesia


I’ve always found the East, Asian cultures, and the way in which their societies operate fascinating because culturally, they appear to be on the other end of the spectrum from the West. Even more so, I am intrigued by expats from the West who choose to live and work in Asia and their experiences in doing so. After my own travels to Indonesia, I decided to interview my good friend James Kent, an Australian who has studied in Indonesia, is now living in Sumatra and is fluent in Bahasa. Like most Australians who choose to learn Bahasa, he had the opportunity to study the language in high school, and believed that learning the language of Australia’s closest neighbour was the most pragmatic option for his future career endeavours. He studied International relations and politics at university, in the past worked for the Australian Federal Government and is currently working as translator for a rainforest conservation group in Sumatra. He is very engaged with political scenes in both Indonesia and Australia. I started by asking him what he thinks the biggest issues Indonesia faces, which he states are corruption, poverty, minority rights and the environment. Furthermore he noted certain events such as the Sidoarjo mud flow problem, poaching, fires and deforestation, and pollution.SRI.jpg

A picture of a group working to preserve forested land, sourced from Sumatra Rainforest Institute’s website 

I proceeded to ask him about his work in politics and how people in Australia and Indonesia regard important issues like the environment and the government. According to him, Indonesians are politically engaged but do not like to admit it. Recently, James was tasked with interviewing villagers in Sumatra about their opinions and attitudes towards certain issues, but found it difficult to know what they really thought due to cultural notions around politeness. The preference for Indonesians not to rock the boat in conversation, is something that goes beyond interactions with friends. Both James and I discussed potential political ramifications as a result; governing bodies lack substance and integrity when it comes to addressing issues and that corruption goes largely unnoticed.



Above image is originally sourced while on a street art tour. Below is an image screen from Busrianto’s Instagram

Keeping in mind designerly solutions to issues such as these, I asked him whether he saw art or design having a role to play in social change. However, contrary to what I thought, using art and design as an outlet for cultural and political discourse is still very much taboo in Indonesia. Art is tangible, more flagrant and lingers around much longer than spoken word, proving to be more effective in triggering social changes. I imagined valiant street artists like Andres Busrianto. With complicit politicians and social restrictions in Indonesia, it is easy to see why many Indonesians just appear to accept their fate despite what they may think. Though it is this very fact when looking at the protests that occurred in the 1980’s in Jogyakarta that art is a powerful means of protest because in its very essence, it is freedom of expression (Inside Indonesia 2016). Both the medium and the content of what is on display is enough of a reason for a government to fear the messages of what it brings.



Inside Indonesia. (2016). Of pigs, puppets and protest – Inside Indonesia. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].


Instagram. (2016). Anagard_stencil on Instagram: “Swear is fucking big corruption in this project. #streetartnews #streetartfiles #stencilrevolution #yogyakartastreetart #artmarket…”.  <; [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].


Sumatra Rainforest Institute. (2016). Sumatra Rainforest Institute.  <; [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].







(POST B) Who Funded this Garden of Eden?


The Eden Project is a multiple greenhouse complex, situated in Cornwall, in the U.K. Built from an old kaolinite mine, the complex consists of two biomes which play host to emulating various climates in order to house many different species of plants. The biomes are constructed from plastic hexagonal structures, which are inflated and supported by steel frames. The initiative proudly declares that all water is harvested from rainwater as well as collected from an underground drainage system, with the only water coming from the mains supply being for hand washing and cooking. Along with this, they have Green-Tariff approved electricity with the energy sourced from a wind turbine in the local area.

“The Eden Project, an educational charity, connects us with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work towards a better future.”

The Eden Project websites is completely transparent in that it states all relevant information and provides answers to most questions about their activity and vision on their website. According to them, the Eden Project was built simply more than just as a tourist attraction for Cornwall. They are a social enterprise that looks at ways to bettering our future with ecologically sound living and thinking. Apart from running as a kind of museum, and providing jobs in the local area, some of their larger projects involves the construction of a nationwide network of cycle and walking routes as well as a renewable geothermal energy plant (BBC News 2016) and ( 2016).


The site of the Eden Project prior to the construction of the Biomes

While it is unclear the intentions of Lottery UK to fund the initial construction of the biomes in 1995, there has been recent controversy surrounding the funding of the geothermal project. Rio Tinto, a British mining company has and is still funding its construction, something that seems like a complete conflict of interest. While it is idyllic to think that governments and companies would do the right thing for the environment, this simply does not occur as companies are profit driven and to some extent, governments sway in the favour of big business (Carney, 2006).

The move for a predominantly mining energy company to invest in renewable energy is a wise decision given the emerging markets. Not only should this form a moral dilemma for the Eden Project founders who boast a green and ecologically sound platform from which they originate, but also the public who continue supporting them through paid visits. For the Eden Project to accept coal money at this point seems like a backtrack on their original intentions as a green hub as well as indicates a possible transition from social enterprise to business model. Understandably any project with a degree of corporate involvement needs funding, however when the water starts to get murky as to where money is coming from and going, do people need to be critical so that they do not believe that a given institution is 100% perfect.



BBC News (2016). Routes scheme tops lottery vote. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].


Carney, T. (2006). Policy Report: Big Business and Big Government. [online] Cato Institute. Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016]. (2016). Top eco visitor attraction – rainforest, gardens & educational charity – Eden Project Cornwall UK. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].

All images are from the Eden Project website unless stated otherwise






(POST A) Food as Design? You bet!

In Indonesia, food is considered a form of design. According to the owner of the Eco-village in Kandangan, Pat Singhi, the way in which a meal is prepared, for example the qualities of the ingredients, how those ingredients interact together and the presentation once prepared, are all considered in a designerly manner. When thinking about food and design together, what comes to most people’s mind is simply just the visual quality of it, due to Instagram, food photography and the advertising industry. Though focusing on Indonesian culture, Singhi who comes from a small rural village and is a big advocator for returning to the village lifestyle endorses the simplicity in designing a meal from what is nearby and available.


Not only can food be designed, but the way it’s grown can be too. Whilst in Indonesia, a group of us went to visit Bumi Langit, a farm that specialises in permaculture food. This essentially refers to crops that have been grown without the use of man-made pesticides. The way they are able to do this is through making use of already existing natural systems, which optimize the growth of crops through optimizing energy and waste cycles. Nothing goes to waste in permaculture as all chemicals in the process, food and unwanted components are utilised in some way (Doust et. al. 2016).


Our group on a guided tour of Bumi Langit

Van der Beek (2013) raises an interesting point when they stipulate the role of food in creating a better world. Food is such an important part of our lives, not only that, it can act as a powerful social tool. For centuries, food has been a part of and even defines culture – wars have been fought over it. In many ways, food has purpose beyond filling you up, it nourishes, delights, brings experiences of different tastes and moods, it can elevate you or even bring you down based on sensorial associations. This is where we can start to think creatively about food that is cleverly purpose driven, and the technology behind creating them.


In thinking about how food can be design and designed, 3D printing technology has been one avenue explored by product designers that is slowly changing how we source, produce and eat. The Edible Growth 3D printer enables the user to grow what they consume by printing spores, seeds and a pastry layer to create bite-sized food with adequate nutritional value. The design behind this technology addresses food wastage and the environmental impact behind today’s food systems by putting these responsibilities into the hands of the consumer. Food systems could potentially move this way in the future with companies like Nestle showing an interest in making the technology available to consumers (Thimmesch 2014).

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3D printed morsel, rich in essential nutrients to provide exactly what the body requires

In opening up the discussion to what aspects of food systems are considered design, you are unlocking real potential to change and cater things for consumers. From redesigning complex food production systems to simply altering the way one prepares food for their dinner, all steps in the process can be enhanced when thought about critically with our environment and health in mind.




Doust, G., Gaudry, T., Lam, K., & Meland-Proctor, J. interview with Farmer Salas, February 18, 2016, transcript, Bumi Lamgit, Yogyakarta.

Thimmesch, D. (2014). 3D Printed Mini-Pastries Called ‘Edible Growth’ Created by Dutch Industrial Design Student. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].

Van der Beek, S. (2013). What Design Can Do: The food system, hungry for design [Event Report #2] – TEDxAmsterdam. [online] TEDxAmsterdam. Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].






(POST D) Unveiling the Waria: Transgender Indonesia

The Waria of Indonesia are one of the country’s most marginalized fringe groups. As journalist, Hannah Brooks explains, the word ‘Waria’ is a combination of the words for ‘woman’ and ‘man’ in Bahasa (Vice 2016). Due to the country’s Muslim majority and strictness of Sharia law in certain regions, hatred towards those who cross dress is common. However in spite of the face of intolerance and societal rejection, a school for Warias has been set up by Maryani, a 50 year old transsexual, in Jogyakarta in order to teach Islam, due to mainstream Islam institutions’ rejection of transsexual identities.

“even though Javanese culture is known for its openness, Islamic law does not approve of deviation” (Vice 2016) 

Warias have always been an accepted part of Indonesian culture. Before the arrival of Islam in Indonesia, there were always two main genders. Each gender would have certain gods and qualities assigned to them by religion however there was definitely more fluidity and tolerance towards anything that was not purely heterosexual behaviour. Gender roles were more flexible and Waria were even honoured as having deity status as it was believed they had the ability to spiritually transcend the norm and undertake other gender roles. This was significant due to pre-Islamic religions striving for balance in the world and they were the embodied form of this idea (Zwaan 2012).


Image sourced from Vice article

The arrival of the Islamic faith in the 1300’s was relatively easy to integrate with Indigenous mythology and tribes adapted to their presence. However intolerance towards Waria had been growing over time and anti-Waria sentiment is at its peak. One of Indonesia’s biggest issues is the intolerance towards minority groups, that which is mostly fuelled by Islam fundamentalists. Ever since, Waria have been pushed further into the margins of society ever since forcing many to earn money through prostitution or other means (Vice 2016).


Image sourced from SBS News article

What is unique about the Waria is that unlike many transsexuals worldwide, many are not interested in sex-reassignment surgeries due to religious reasons. Even more intriguing is that in spite of their mainstream rejection; a lot of them still strive to be devout Muslims. It appears that Waria have still retained the notions of spirituality surrounding the transgression of gender roles. As a result a lot of them tend to stand out, with bold personal expressions of false eyelashes, dramatic makeup and skimpy clothing. Islam notions of modesty and Sharia law fuel hatred towards this particular minority group and Maryani often holds funerals for peers who were victims of violence.

‘”In one month, usually four people need to be buried,” she says. “Even when we die we need money.”’ (Vice 2016) 

In a country where topics such as LGBT issues and drugs are either dealt with by ignoring them outright or are punishable by harsh laws, goes to show the government’s preference to ignore rather than address (Post 2016). The Waria make huge efforts through engaging with their local community to demystify any negativity surrounding their lifestyles. It is this strength and positivity that is compelling to others in their community and to those who read about them, that dwarfs the implied adversity of any laws or threat from any larger bodies.



Post, T. (2016). Difficult for Indonesia to legalize gay marriage: Minister. The Jakarta Post. < > [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].

SBS News. (2016). High Heels and Hijabs: Transgender rights in Indonesia. <; [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].

VICE (2016). The Warias | VICE | United States. <; [Accessed 10 Apr. 2016].

Zwaan, L (2012) Waria of Yogyakarta: Islam, Gender, and National Identity