Post C – Singgih Kartono

When industrial designer Singgih Kartono, a native of the Kandangan village in Indonesia graduated from Bandung’s Institute of Technology (ITB), like many of us, he was troubled by what he wanted to do afterwards. “Should I work for a design office in the city or go back to my village and set up a business?” he said, as I interviewed him during my stay in one of his homestays located in Kelingan, Central Java.

Singgih eventually followed his heart and returned back to his hometown with the intention of revitalisng the village and creating an ecological and self-sufficient community. He mentioned that he has a strong belief regarding the relationship of a user and a product. Hence by going back to his roots, Singgih aims to sensitive the users of his products with the natural environment that the materials come from. Since bamboo is widely available across Indonesia, many Indonesians see this type of wood as cheap and affordable, often overlooking the sustainability of the material. For example, the ecovillage homestays feature treehouses and cocoon pods (as shown in the featured image) that are made entirely out of bamboo, and while most foreigners would see this as innovative and resourceful design, Singgih says “the villagers would rather take a more modern approach, choosing to buy expensive building materials such as cement instead of the bamboo that’s readily available.”

Magno Design product range available at Magno Design Factory. Photograph: Nadia Al-Munir

Today, his company Magno Design combines local artisanry, Singgih’s design experience, and sustainably grown wood to make innovative consumer products (Elvin, 2015). The local wood and bamboo is now a focal point of Singgih’s designs, with the Magno line ranging from magnifying glasses, wooden radios, clocks, yoyos, and even speakers.

Spedagi bicycle frames in the Magno Design Factory workshop. Photograph: Nadia Al-Munir

I had the privilege of visiting the Magno Design factory, and was able to witness the wooden creations in the making – including the bamboo bicycle Spedagi, which derives from Sepeda Pagi (Morning Bike). The people of Magno are all very dedicated and enthusiastic with their work, taking care into creating the best quality products. The limited machinery also means that the workers must possess some excellent hand-crafting expertise.

One of the Magno Design workers making staplers. Photograph: Nadia Al-Munir

“I consider wood as a balance material,” he said. “Compared to synthetic materials, I feel that wood is a material with soul inside. The beautiful texture and grain actually tell the story of its life. Wood is a kind of perfect material, perfect because of its imperfectness. Its character teaches us about life, balance and limits.”

Singgih focuses on designing with awareness, planting a new tree for every one used in his products (Magno Design, 2016).

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Project – The Gamechanger Campaign

The rapid increase in the quantity of municipal solid waste in alignment with a growing population rate in Indonesia has spawned impending challenges to the management of waste in areas such as Salatiga in Central Java, for which is our geographical focus. Currently in Salatiga through a number of methodological approaches, we have identified waste disposal as a significant problem whereby water bottles, plastic packaging and human wastage such as diapers are commonly disposed of into surrounding environments and waterways, and/or frequently burned. A solution to this problem is essential, as the issue has become a concerning environmental and health hazard within the community.

Rubbish in waterways at Senjoyo, Indonesia. Photograph: Nadia Al-Munir

Our aim is to develop and implement a sustainable, enduring and permanent solution to assist in minimising resistant attitudes to behavioural change when it comes to recycling non-biodegradable wastes.

For research purposes we have, with consent, hypothetically associated ourselves with the organisation Tanam Untuk Kehidupan (TUK), an environmentally concerned artist community in Salatiga. TUK’s most recognisable environmental effort is witnessed through their annual art festival by the name of Festival Mata Air (Festival of Water).

Festival Mata Air 2016 at Muncul, Indonesia. Photograph: Nadia Al-Munir

Participating in FMA 2016 has led us to witness firsthand the established international platform for collaboration and exchange between a variety of art communities, environmentalists and local residents, with Festival Mata Air increasingly recognised as a significant community-based environmental awareness campaign.

Briefly, there are many requirements with which this project needs to be evaluated against in order to design the most appropriate solution for waste management in Salatiga. These include the cost, sustainability, environmental impact and cultural appropriateness of the method.

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Festival Mata Air Timeline. Illustration: Ji Young Bang

In determining our design solution, we have proposed a permanent extension of Festival Mata Air, whereby the key components of the festival are translated into a permanent visual and interactive campaign. This will ensure the longevity of the environmental messages being portrayed at FMA, and keep environmental awareness at the forefront of the residents of Salatiga.

Proposed mural at Festival Mata Air sites. Illustration: Katherine Cranfield

The visual design of a mural to be located at the Senjoyo, Kalimatan and Muncul sites has been done with children as the target to encourage rubbish disposal and a basic understanding of environmental principals when it comes to correct rubbish disposal and minimising environmental harm.  It is simple and to the point, using icons and images that are universal.

The first interactive component of the TUK campaign is an installation in the form of a modified basketball hoop situated on top of a bin. Basketball has been observed as a popular Indonesian past time, and therefore something that is culturally engaging and appropriate to the youth community.  The second interactive component to the TUK campaign is also centered around engagement with a bin, through again the universal game of hopscotch. Similarly, with the hopscotch design, the novelty behind it engages the youth, of a variety of ages and genders, to engage with the motion of putting rubbish in the bin through ending the game at the foot of the bin, with the outline stenciled in front of the bin.

When introducing this campaign as a means of improving behavioural approaches to methods of waste management and water sanitation to the people of Salatiga, education is a vital component when dealing with the implementation process. There are no strict guidelines or procedures which outline what has to be completed in the waste management process. During our research phase, children have been proven as the easiest generational sector to educate as they are likely more willing to learn new things and participate.

Children targeted as the main users of The Gamechanger Campaign at Senjoyo, Indonesia. Photograph: Emma Chegwyn

The concept of a throw away culture has been referenced in literature as being ‘incompatible with sustainability’, with an expanded definition of sustainability researched to be defined and also as being concerned with society’s ‘relationship with ourselves, our communities and our institutions’. This is where the TUK campaign situates itself, embracing the notion of collective change through recognising that behaviours and attitudes to water conservation and waste disposal need to be altered.

Group Rambutan – Nadia Al-Munir, Ji Young Bang, Emma Chegwyn, Katherine Cranfield

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Post D – How to Act Indonesian

Known for her satirical humour on her popular YouTube channel, Sacha Stevenson, is a Canadian bule (foreigner) who has been living in Indonesia since 2001. Sacha moved to Indonesia to become an English teacher, where she subsequently surrounded herself with Indonesian culture, choosing the local way of life, as opposed to her bule friends. She rejected housing subsidised by her teaching program, opting instead to live in a bare, unfurnished apartment (Tempo, 2015). During her travels, she began practicing Islam and even wearing the hijab.

Through her instructional series of “How to Act Indonesian” Sacha demonstrates the typical Indonesian way of life through her personal observations. “It’s Indonesia from my perspective,” she says. However, what may seem like a little bit of comedy to us, some Indonesians might find insulting and sarcastic.

Indonesians come from a culture where they hold a lot of pride and take offense very easily. It isn’t much of an issue when its coming from their own people, but when they see a bule mocking their ways, it becomes debatable. “I’ve received death threats,” she says in an article on The Jakarta Globe, “But the response has almost all been positive. And the videos that cause some controversy also get the most hits.”

Her videos dwell on hypocrisy – in an episode, we see Sacha clean her house with care, only to throw the rubbish on the street. However, they also cross into pure ridiculousness (The Jakarta Globe, 2013). In another episode, we see the overused nature of texting through BBM (Black Berry Messenger) where even homeless people have Blackberry phones. These reflections allow for a greater understanding of the Indonesian culture.

Coming from an Indonesian background, I find that most of her videos similarly relate to my own familiarities of Indonesians; whether in Indonesia or Australia. I’ve been subscribed to Sacha’s channel for a couple years now and my most profound relation with her has to be her impression that Indonesians are very inquisitive people. They don’t feel any shame in expressing their curiosity with strangers, often asking intimate questions that we might feel uncomfortable to answer. This is very normal amongst older Indonesian women, who constantly feel the need to be ‘honest’.

In 2013, the series was seen as controversial as it dealt with Muslims in Indonesia. This rapidly aggravated certain religious groups, claiming her as an orientalist in social media, who studied Islam just so she can insult the religion (Tempo, 2015). Sacha apologised immediately has vouched to “never want to do anything that has to do with religion, because this is a very sensitive subject.”

Although she has since become more selective in the content that she uploads, the satirical humour is still engaging and encouraging for those wanting to learn more about your typical Indonesian.


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Post A – The Rise of Muslim Fashion

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and the majority of its population reside in Indonesia. However, in Indonesia, it is merely more than just a religion. Islam has transformed into a popular brand for media, cultural and commercial products (Gur, 2016).

Over time, the significance of Islamic culture has increased, becoming a widespread influence amongst women in Indonesia, who have chosen to adopt the religious headscarf, otherwise known as the hijab. This propagation of Islamic dress, is the result of a connection of political, economic, and cultural changes among the women of Indonesia (Jones, 2007). Currently, about 10 percent of the female population wear the hijab, which some in the West view as an act of oppression. However, women around the world, view the hijab as a tool of empowerment, defining a woman’s presence with power and style (The Jakarta Globe, 2013).

Fashion designers Odette Steele, Dian Pelangi and Nelly Rose on the runway during London Fashion Week 2016. Photograph: Eamonn McCornmack

Indonesians feature a more dynamic and colourful response to the hijab, while at the same representing its unassertive values. “We interpret modesty in more moderate terms without compromising the head-to-toe coverage” says fashion designer Dian Pelangi, who is known as the pioneer of Muslim fashion in Indonesia. Where the media often overlooks or misinterprets Islam, frequently portraying it alongside acts of terrorism and fundamentalism, fashion designers like Dian Pelangi, travel around the world in hope to promote Islam and Muslim fashion to a broader perspective. Similarly, fashion photographer, Langston Hues, has compiled a book titled Modest Street Fashion, which explores the views and opinions on Muslim fashion trends and their evolution, through a diversity of Muslim women worldwide. “People dress on the basis of their environment and the values they uphold,” he says, “the breed of modest fashion bloggers is fairly new but ever evolving.” (Langston, 2014).

H&M’s ‘Close the Loop’ campaign featuring its first hijab model, Mariah Idrissi. Photograph: Official H&M Facebook

These growing population of women, have in turn carved a way into the fashion industry which now sees this platform as a global trend. High end brands see this as a market opportunity. Dolce & Gabbana launched their first ever collection of abayas and hijabs earlier this year as they seek to cater for the growing demand for Muslim fashion. Uniqlo launched a special collection with Muslim fashion designer Hana Tajima last year, and H&M followed this step by featuring a hijab-wearing model in a recent campaign (The Jakarta Globe, 2016).

A new breed of designers seeking to blend Islamic modesty with cutting-edge style during Jakarta Fashion Week 2015. Photograph: Achmad Ibrahim

With the help of Indonesia’s annual Jakarta Fashion Week and Indonesia’s Islamic Fashion Fair, together with the developing style of hijab-wearers, Indonesia has set its goal to be the global leader in the Muslim fashion industry by 2020 that is worth nearly $100 billion by some estimates (Our Indonesia, 2015).

Being of both Indonesian and Islamic background, I see the rise of the Muslim Fashion industry being a positive one. However, this rise also sets a fine line between the hijab being a religious symbol representing Islam and its contradictions of being purely a fashion accessory.

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Post B – Waste Not, Want Not

The small Japanese town of Kamikatsu, has received inclusive acknowledgement for their extensive recycling effort and commitment to reaching ‘Zero Waste’ status by 2020. From a town where open burning and dumping on farms and mountains, were the most common systems of waste management, now only 20 percent of their waste reaches landfills, while the other 80 percent is responsibly recycled (Eppenbach, 2016).

Zero Waste is the vision to build a society that enjoys a sustainable rubbish-free lifestyle, with no need for incineration or landfill (Sakano, 2015). The ‘Zero Waste’ policy was first developed in 2003 as an interdisciplinary initiative, whereby Kamikatsu exchanged its infamous practice of incineration for a much more environmentally aware sanitation program, in fear of endangering the future of both the environment and the population. Similar to Hino City, a suburb in Tokyo, that implemented a ‘No Waste’ campaign in 2000 to challenge an area with one of the worst recycling rates in Japan (Hill, 2011).

“We are trying to focus more and totally change our lifestyles,” says Akira Sakano, co-founder of the Zero Waste Academy, a non-profit organisation that was established in 2005, as a monitor towards Kamikatsu’s sustainability goals. The Academy also hosts an “Experience ‘Kamikatsu’ Programme” where each year, around 2500 local and foreign visitors are educated on the principles of living a ‘Zero Waste’ lifestyle.

Sonae Fujii of the Zero Waste Academy in Kamikatsu stands next to containers filled with waste ready for recycling at the Hibigaya Waste Station. Photograph: Robert Gilhooly

Recycling is now a streamlined process, which the community of 1700, meticulously wash and sort their recyclables into 34 separate categories. A report by The Christian Science Monitor, has likened the town’s waste to an “outdoor filing cabinet”, being the largest of its kind, internationally. What might already seem like a time-consuming and tedious task, the residents also have to transport it to the recycling centre themselves where workers make sure that the waste goes into the correct bins.

A resident divides up her bottles into clear, brown and other coloured bottles at the waste disposal site. Photograph: Robert Gilhooly

Like recycling, reuse is also highly encouraged in Kamikatsu. There is a shop known as a “circular” or a “kuru-kuru” where residents can trade used items for new ones, at no extra costs. And a factory, where unwanted items are repurposed into bags and clothes.

“If you get used to it, it becomes normal,” a Kamikatsu resident said in a YouTube documentary made by Seeker Stories, “It can be a pain, and at first we were opposed to the idea. Now I don’t think about it. It’s become natural to separate the trash correctly.”

Similar to Kamikatsu, cities around the world are also on their way to accomplishing ‘Zero Waste’ eminence. For example, San Diego recently proclaimed to reduce 75 percent of its waste by 2030 and become completely waste-free  by 2040 (Environmental Services Department, 2015).

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