Upstream is a dual product system that utilizes a modern filtering system and reusable bottle design for everyday access to clean drinking water. It was founded by a collaboration between Indonesian and Australian Students and is a not for profit organisation, working within university contexts across Indonesia. Upstream has taken a multidisciplinary approach to create a holistic design solution.

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Utilizing an innovative filtration system, tap water is made easily accessible in a communal tap design so students can take their reusable bottles, or recycle old plastic bottles to fill up and remain hydrated throughout the day.

The conceptualization and creation of Upstream was a direct response to the rapid and large-scale waste production of plastic in Indonesia that we noticed throughout this trip and in conversation with the UMN students. In Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice Tony Fry explains ‘We human beings live a contradiction. In our endeavor to sustain ourselves in the short term we collectively act in destructive ways towards the very things we and all other beings fundamentally depend upon’ (Fry 2009, p. 22). Having consumed 15.7 billion liters of water in 2009, Indonesia has emerged as the seventh-largest bottled market in the world. In the Asia Pacific, it is the second largest in terms of total bottled water consumption, coming second to China. Owing to the rising presence of contaminants in water and relatively low entry barriers, the Indonesian bottled water market is expected to register double-digit growth rates till 2016.

Apart from favorable economic factors, the market received a boost from the rising spending power of young urban consumers and improving health and safety awareness in the country. It is widely recognized that the large population of urban cities in Indonesia and enhanced health and water safety awareness are the key drivers of this market. Bottled water in Indonesia is a safer alternative to tap water for consumption, and the majority of the population considers it more affordable than residential water treatment equipment.

Upstream distributes and manages an infrastructure of clean water systems on university campuses. We provide pod style refillable water stations with an integrated filtration system that provides students easy, cost free access to clean tap water. Upstream also distributes compact reusable bottles constructed from recycled aluminum and plastic waste. These bottles were designed in conjunction with university students, in an effort to appeal to this demographic. Whilst further, the clean and modern aesthetic of our products establish upstream as an appealing brand for university students within the relatively untapped market of reusable drink bottles. Ultimately, the desirability and functionality of the upstream products aims to reduce single use plastic products.

Upstream is currently running a pilot program within UMN in Jakarta, with the intent to roll out across all Indonesian universities in the future. All of Upstream’s manufacturing will occur within Indonesia, as both a demonstration of Indonesia’s vast production capabilities and a means to support local economy.

Through an integrated social media campaign Upstream aims to engage with a wider audience as well as create a fun, engaged and rewarding experience with its users. The Upstream app utilizes a point system that rewards a user for refilling their Upstream bottle. This engagement of the user with the Upstream social media will assist in creating a movement where clean tap water is more readily used within Indonesia. The apps invitation system allows Upstream to remain situated within a university context while still engaging a wider Indonesian community to further build awareness and facilitate change.

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Through Upstream’s extensive research programs, it has been highlighted that Indonesia’s plastic waste is the second largest contributor globally. At the forefront of this is Danone Aqua, having held the monopoly on Indonesia’s clean water supply for 42 years it continues to control 60% of the clean water market. Upstream provides smaller communities with the power to control their own clean water supply and bypass the larger cooperation’s that permeate Indonesia’s deteriorating waste landscape.

As a not for profit organisation, upstream has designed its infrastructure to have specific advertising opportunities, allowing universities to implement their own branding within the products as a form of marketing strategy. This allows upstream to align with the shift towards running eco-orientated marketing campaigns. Upstream therefore provides universities with a project that is a part of their marketing campaign. This allows upstream to draw upon the pre-existing marketing budgets as a financial facilitator for the company.


Fry, T. 2009, Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice, University of New South Wales Press Ltd, Sydney

Rodwan, J. 2013, Bottled Water 2013: Sustaining Vitality, International Bottled Water Association, United States, Viewed 11th of July 2014<>

Rappler, 2013, Indonesia is 2nd biggest source of plastic waste in seas’ Viewed 11th of July 2014 <>

Thomas, Kim, Jacquie and Caitlin.

BRC Designs and what we can learn from it. Tom Puttick Post B

Benjamin Rollins Caldwell is an American artist and founder of BRC Designs. A small furniture design firm that creates bespoke pieces with waste products and particularly waste electrical products. His vision is to “Re-think, Re-purpose, Re-invent” (BRC Designs, 2014) materials that would otherwise go into landfill. By striping these materials down to their bare structures he is able to view them in a raw and exposed light that allows him to recontextualized them into his bespoke furniture pieces. It is this process that allows him to challenge the current perceptions of waste and it’s limitations.

His process utilized furniture craftsmen that help to repurpose waste products into a specific design forum of furniture design. Caldwell’s design process is fundamentally based within the design disciplinary of furniture design although his conceptual process’s elevates this to a more conceptual approach that deals more with the process of re contextualizing waste than it does with creating the outcome of furniture.

Having only started his business in 2009, Caldwell has managed to gain substantial traction in his waste management endeavors. His unique approach of re contextualizing waste has attracted the attention of celebrities such as Lady Gaga who debuted his Binary collection in 2013 alongside influential artists Jeff Koons and Marina Abramovic. BRC Designs is a commercial business that turns a profit from reusing waste products in innovative ways. It is this ability to integrate sustainable practices into a functioning business that demonstrates Caldwell’s ability to create a future for design innovations within waste management.

Caldwell’s business is a self funded start up that is yet to be bought out by any larger company and it is this that allows the BRC firm to retain it’s sense of intimate craftsmanship and attention to detail within its bespoke pieces.

His collections to date have ranged from tables made from old and unused computer chips to unused concrete blocks that become bespoke coffee tables and stands.

Caldwell’s success in reinterpreting waste within the furniture disciplinary allows him to demonstrate sustainable design innovation as well as an ability to look beyond the rendering of waste. Something we should all think about doing more often…


(BRC Designs, 2014, Table)


BRC Designs, 2014, Info, Viewed 30 April

BRC Designs, 2014, Table, Viewed 30 April

Haggar, S. 2007, Sustainable Industrial Design and Waste Management, Elsevier, Burlington

Lawson S, 2013, Furniture Design, Laurence Publishing, London

Design, context and everything around it. Tom Puttick Post A

Design is inherently shaped by the social, geographic and political context that it is created within. This is true on the small scale of designer’s immediate surroundings but is also true of a larger scale. The reaction to a more globalised zeitgeist also impacts not only designer’s outcomes but also the way in which they perceive these outcomes within a personal context.

You can begin to deconstruct these ideas by looking within the examples of street art in Indonesia. Street art developed within the 1940’s in Indonesia and have since been utilized as a form of artistic expression in reaction to particular political contexts for example the 1998 uprising. During this particular time a group of Yogyakarta based artists formed the group Taring Padi who painted murals that demanded Suharto to step down.


Taring Padi: Seni Membongkar Tirani, 2011)

These murals are of cause a direct reflection of their political context, however, they are also a representation of the growing popularity of street art globally at this time. This is demonstrated in the rise of Banksy at the same time. It is this that reflects the impact of the global zeitgeist on the choices made by such politically responsive groups such as Taring Pardi. Through this you can start to understand that while a designers local context will impact the statements that convey, it is also the overall global artistic context/trends that will impact the way in which those designers choose to express their views.

These ideas of varying contexts simultaneously effecting design outcomes is true also in the ways in which design is viewed and the meaning it embodies for varying people.

Looking at the below street art, there are endless different ways in which a viewer could draw meaning, all these ways however involve the viewers contexts.


(Street Art in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2012)

This particular street art is in reaction to the 2010 eruptions of Mount Merapi and is situated in a small village that was destroyed by the eruptions. For someone from this particular context, they would draw the meaning that relates to those eruptions, however for someone in a totally different context it is understandable that they would draw another totally separate and still valid meaning. For instance within a fashion context New York a person could view the work and the Batik prints on the women’s clothing as a reminder of Michael Kors Pre Summer Batik inspired collection.


(Michael Kors, 2010,)

While this is a completely different reaction to the same work, it demonstrates the impact of context on not only the design itself but also the way in which we view it and the meaning that we draw from it.


Taring Padi: Seni Membongkar Tirani, 2011, The Librarium, viewed 30 April 2015,

Street art in in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2012, Street art Utopia, viewed April 30


Michael Kors, 2010,, viewed April 30,

Young A, 2014, Street Art, Public City, Routledge, Oxon

A film for a thought. Tom Puttick Post D


(The year of living dangerously)

The Year of Living Dangerously, directed by Peter Weir, is a dramatic film that delves into the thirtieth September Movement in Indonesia in 1965. While maintaining a substantial cast and a storyline that resembles the usual love affair storylines of modern day films, the film also raises awareness for a period of Indonesian political history that would otherwise go under the radar for many – The Thirtieth of September Movement and the Indonesian Killings of 1965-66.

The Thirtieth of September Movement are responsible for the assassination of 6 influential Indonesian Army generals on October 1st 1965. Following the assignation the group declared control over all the media outlets and held President Sukarno under its coup. This attempted coup failed by the end of the day however it did claim the lives of two more central officers prior to the collapse of the coup.

The backlash from this attempted coup was severe and is know as the Indonesian Killings of 1965-66. Following the failed coup there was fairly immediate alleged association of the coup with the Communist Party of Indonesia PKI. The reaction to this association was the killing of more than 500,000 people who were alleged to be in association with the Communist party. It is this transition that shifted the weight of the Indonesian political climate to no longer include such a strong communist presence and it is this extermination that highlights a period of unjust human rights violations that are not often publicized within Indonesian history or international perspectives of Indonesian history. It is this film that highlights the issues and context surrounding this killing spree and in this way the film brings to light an important yet harrowing period within Indonesia’s history. The PKI massacre is considered one of the worst massacres of the 20th century despite it’s lack of recognition in comparison to the Soviet massacres and Nazi mass murders.

Much is still unknown about the killings as they occurred at a time when there were few international journalists in the country and the military was in control of the flow of information. The current estimation of upwards of 500,000 is widely accepted by scholars however it is important to note that that number has been estimated to be much higher.

Indonesia, like most countries, shares moments of bleak history. It is important to understand and acknowledge these periods in history in order to move forward. It is with that acknowledgement that Indonesia can hope to achieve a greater sense of closure for what remains a very ambiguous period of Indonesian History.


The year of living dangerously 1982, IMDb, viewed 25 April 2015

Miller F. 2010, 30 September Movement, VDM, Toronto

Mehr N 2009 , Constructive Bloodbath, Spokesman, England

Roosa J,2006 Pretext for Mass Murder, University of Wisconsin Press, Wisconsin

A new place, a new lift. Post C – Tom Puttick


(Art:1 New Museum, 2013,)

Ever wonder what it would be like to leave your life behind and move to a completely new city where you didn’t even speak the language. Sydney’s Grace wondered that too, although she quickly found out…

Grace moved to Jakarta in July of 2014 as an expat and her experiences give an insight to life within Indonesia as well as cultural differences between Sydney’s northern beach lifestyle and Jakarta. “At first I found it a bit of a culture shock, it was so hot…the heat wasn’t like a heat I’d ever experienced before and there were so many different cultural nuances to what I’m used to back home”. The period of adjustment for any expatriate is often a challenging one and for Grace, a 26 year old marketing director for Telstra, this was certainly the case. Although like any big move to a new city things will adjust with time and effort. “After a few weeks I had started to settle into my job and was able to clear my mind and start to see Jakarta a bit more clearly”. Grace began to engage with the diversity and artistic fringes that layer themselves within Indonesia. Seeing the artistic diversity gave a sense of discovery and interest in an otherwise foreign city. Through this investigation of her interest in art within an Indonesian context Grace was able to integrate within the Indonesian context with more ease and also meet people of similar interests. “Things got easier as time passed, I guess I found the things/people that worked for me…that helped a lot”.

Indonesia’s artistic climate is generally said to be situated in Yogyakarta and this is somewhere that was a real culmination of the country and her love for art when she finally visited. Describing it as an “eye opening” experience, it brought a deeper connection to this new country and space.

From this conversation it seemed fair to take away the importance of finding your niche within a new country and within Indonesia, art and design are a thriving sub section that present a new resident with a fantastic gateway in.

While a new move is hard, it is often an incredibly rewarding experience and this is certainly the thread that weaves Grace’s story together.

Art 1: gallery, Museum, Jakarta, Viewed April 27th

Art:1 New Museum, 2013, Foto, Viewed April 27th