Kembali Designs

Pendulum Pendant, Kembali Designs
Pendulum Pendant, Kembali Designs

We are Kembali designs, a non profit design company that has created a small-scale ‘system’ addressing environmental issues in an Indonesian/global context. Our design concept developed from experiencing rural and urban Indonesian life and the difficulties these areas face in addressing consumption and waste disposal as the Indonesian economy develops. Inorganic materials have quickly replaced traditional bio-degradable options and there is a divide between the embrace of these materials and development of sufficient waste infrastructure.

The International Development Research Centre) reports 55,000 tonnes of waste is produced in Indonesia’s urban areas everyday (MacMillan 2007). It is poorly managed and often burnt, leading to further air pollution. People also make money from trash picking as a result of this poor disposal management, however due to lack of government infrastructure and support, this often results in the creation of illegal, irresponsible dumping sites.

To counter the vast issues surrounding waste we have created a small-scale solution by working within the trash picking community – changing their practice to one which values and incentivises proper collection, sorting and disposal through weekly, localised workshops. We also provide information packs that provide this information and tools for better and safer practices.

It is integral for this informal sector to be integrated into larger waste management solutions, and Kembali facilities and incentivises this. Although the sale of large-scale consumer waste has been often opposed from those relying on trashpicking income, we work with both communities and businesses to find compromise. Water bottle brand Aqua founded recycling cooperatives in Tangerang, Bandung and Bali, where around 5,000 trashpickers are employed and have access to social services (GBI 2014) – an example of a relationship Kembali would facilitate.

To fund the program, we chose to employ traditional skills to create a high quality product to sell in a global market. The choice to create a product doesn’t immediately address garbage or trash, but addresses the waste of a neglected material; bamboo. Kembali aims to change the stigma surrounding bamboo, which locally will help proliferate its use and replace wasteful alternatives like teak furniture and concrete or brick housing. It also offers alternatives to plastic or metal designs that are harder to recycle and involve detrimental industrial processes. The creation of a new product, rather than an up-cycled product, also increases profit margins – funding our workshops and incentives.

Weaver at Kendangan Eco Village
Weaver at Kendangan Eco Village

Bamboo will treat you well if you use it right. Bamboo has been used in tropical regions for 1000’s of years. However, untreated bamboo gets eaten to dust, that why most people, especially in Asia believe that you couldn’t be poor enough to want to use bamboo. This is evident when travelling around Indonesia, you don’t see any bamboo being used in buildings or products. Bamboo forests do not require any fertilisers or pesticides, let alone any modest capital investment. Using safe treatment solutions such as Borax, a natural salt that will turn bamboo into a viable material.

The Indonesian culture fosters craftsmanship, and values the artisan. At Kembali we are combining the two with locally trained designers. In turn we hope to change people’s minds. Our designers respect the material and design for its strengths.

At Kembali no bonding agents or adhesives are used in the production of design to be more eco-friendly. The addition of secondary materials such as ceramic and glass establish a modern design for the global market – materials collected by our employed waste pickers and then refreshed in partnership with local businesses such as Indo Porcelain and BBC Glass. These materials are updated and re-redesigned annually. With the increase of e-waste, future secondary materials will include metals such as copper and aluminium, allowing Kembali to be an iconic and dynamic brand.

Facebook and Instagram are integrated into Kembali Designs model to disseminate ideas and awareness to a larger audience, greater than villages targeted through workshops. Social media is also used to market Kembali’s product range and foster interaction between buyers and artisans; QR codes link the buyer to information about their specific artisan and create a positive brand experience.

Kembali fosters relationships between formal and informal waste management systems, and promotes awareness of waste issues in Indonesia through various platforms with the aim of empowering people and eliminating this environmental and social problem.

Kembali Designs – 
Ada Alma Nafila, Alice Tims, Cherry Liu, Karina Smole, Woody Saulwick, Zachary Hanna


MacMillan, N. 2007, Community Solutions for Indonesia’s Waste, International Development Research Centre, viewed 10th July 2015.

Global Business Indonesia 2014, Sweeping Opportunities in Indonesian’s Waste Management Industry, Global Business Indonesia, viewed 10th July 2015.

Post D: The Year of Living Dangerously

In 1982 Australian focus was shifted toward Indonesia due to a joint project between the Australian Film Commission and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was the film “The Year of Living Dangerously” which starred Australian actors Mel Gibson (as Guy Hamilton), and Noel Ferrier, set in Indonesia 1965, during the short lived overthrow of President Sukarno by the 30 September Movement. Hitting cinemas only seven years after the death of five australian journalists at the hands of Indonesian special forces, the film took Indonesian-Australian relations from political news to pop culture.


Left: Billy Kwan and Guy Hamilton (The Year of Living Dangerously 1982)  Right: ‘The Balibo Five’ (Sydney Morning Herald 2014)

Although approached from a Western view, there are numerous aspects of Indonesian culture conveyed and explained, through both the plot and characters such as Billy Kwan, who implores the journalists to tell the real story, perhaps a criticism of the way the West reported and continues to report on Indonesia. Kwan highlights aspects that are all interesting for differing reasons, the Wayang, political puppetry, and Western attitude to Indonesians.

Shadow puppets, or Wayang are shown by Billy Kwan to Guy Hamilton, the Australian reporter, as a metaphor for politics, the balance of opposing forces. Shadow continues throughout the film with many scenes shrouded in chiaroscuro, rendering the characters as puppets themselves. This puppetry continues to be relevant due to ongoing negotiations around the Bali Nine, and the films roots in the murder of five Australian journalists during the East Timor conflict of 1975. A recent article by Nick Xenophon exploring the lack of action by Australian government features a quote from one of the deceased’s son’s “It seems that the Balibo Five have been traded off for boats, beef and the Bali Nine.” (Milkins 2014)

The attitude of the western reporters toward Indonesians in the film; indifferent or treating them as sexual objects, is strikingly similar to the current Western indifference, or even derision toward immigrants in a hugely similar position to those in the film, hungry and desparate.

The Year of Living Dangerously is an interesting and critical insight into the West’s interaction with Indonesian culture, featuring Australian links to contextualise and also criticise what we are seeing. Many issues brought to light in this 1982 film are still relevant today, 30 years later, and show that much needs to be done to strengthen and fix the relationship between both countries.

The Year of Living Dangerously 1982, Motion picture, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Beverly Hills

Durham, C A. 1985, ‘The year of living dangerously, can vision be a model for knowledge’, Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, no. 30, pp. 6-8

Xenophon, N. 2014, ‘Balibo Five Cover-up: When will it end in Justice?’, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 October, viewed 25 April 2015,

Khan, S. ‘The Year of Living Dangerously ,viewed 23 April 2015,<;

Post C: Moe Aljaidi

Moe Aljaidi is a 20 year old Indonesian-Australian who is currently studying Design/Architecture, I asked him some questions about his six years living in Jakarta, the differences in the mindset of Indonesians and how this lead to his current interest in Design.

“I love both cities. I love the buzz of Jakarta- it’s always alive and everyone is always out socialising no matter what time of day...Yogyakarta is traditionally the art capital of Indonesia. It was one of the only Indonesian kingdoms to not be colonised by the Dutch. It’s a very traditional city, centred around the palace and is probably the best example of Indonesian refinement.”

Moe’s upbringing has centred on Indonesian culture regardless of what country he was living in, due to his heritage, although there are still things that are as mysterious to him as to those uninitiated into Indonesian culture. On discussing differences, Moe views two distinct mindsets unique to southeast Asia and to Australia. “I found it really hard to understand the rationale behind decisions made, big and small. This was something that I could never grasp and as time past, no matter how frustrating it was, I learnt to just accept and not question things.” Although hard to grasp, the Indonesian mindset and approach to sharing/community is one that has left an impression on Moe, an ideal that he believes shapes design in Indonesia.


“Indonesian culture is all about sharing and I feel this has influenced Indonesia’s design and architecture. People don’t understand why you should be disconnected from others.”

big_314489_4738_235 p21-aScene-from-an-exhibition

Left: The Green School (Domus, 2010)
Right: Wood & Good exhibition, Jakarta (Jakarta Post, 2014)

Both of Moe’s parents are in the design industry, helping to expose him to the scene in Indonesia; such as younger generations of artists; “Wood & Good” exhibitors, displaying the distinct balinese carving style ingrained into Indonesian culture and its basis for their art (Rulistia 2014) and the Green School, constructed entirely from bamboo, emphasising conservation, and conducting classes without walls, (James 2010) is an example of the community spirit of which Moe spoke. The artists and the school embody what Moe believes to be so interesting about design culture in Indonesia.

Perhaps the largest endorsement Moe could give Indonesia is his reaction to my question; would he go back there to work? To which he replied positively, citing Indonesia’s freedom from constraints that can infringe design in the west, and also the abundance of money in Jakarta, undeniably a positive factor, creating a fertile culture in which to create.


Aljaidi, M. 2015, Interviewed by Hanna, Z., 27 April

Rulistia, N. 2014, ‘Wood & Good offers a modern look at tradition’, The Jakarta Post, 26 June, viewed 23 April 2015 <;

James, C. 2010, ‘The Green School’ Domus, 12 December, viewed 24 April 2015

Post B: Giving Waste Value

When recycling and waste is discussed, the images that are conjured are that of glass bottles, polymer containers, newspaper and aluminium cans. This is the face of waste, post-consumer, the face that we see when we discard our used packaging. What this idea of ‘waste’ fails to address, is the waste generated during the manufacture of these and many other products, and the whole design itself; the design that requires the user to discard a part of the item. As waste is intrinsically linked to design through manufacture and user interaction, there is a level of responsibility, to rethink what is designed, and address the inevitable waste created by these designs.

Increasingly designers are looking at the issue of waste during production, pre-consumer. Modern production methods have become quite efficient, although the use of more traditional production methods, from wooden furniture, to traditional building construction still leave us with masses of waste.

Eindhoven graduate, Tsuyoshi Hayashi is one designer addressing the issue of waste in the construction industry; Kawara tiles. Kawara tiles are the traditional roofing tile in japan, although during manufacture, more than 65,000 are sent to landfill each year due to minor blemishes. Hayashi has addressed this problem by reappropriating the tile to create seating, an artefact not so easily discarded.


Left: Hayashi’s Kawara Stool. (Hayashi, T. 2014)                                                    Right: Bentu Design’s Recycle Series. (Bentu Design, 2015)

The chinese studio Bentu Design also understands the issue of construction waste, stating ‘construction waste accounts for 30–40% of the amount of total municipal waste. It takes up a lot of land and reduces soil quality’ (DesignBoom, April 2015).

Bentu Design uses this waste to create something of value, unlikely to be discarded, with their series of lighting. Bentu’s approach of leaving the material raw and unpolished is effective as a reference to its origin and creates a talking point concerning construction waste and how we approach it.

Both of these designs have re-appropriated waste into a form that will be valued and cared for, rather than discarded again, over and over, such is the current situation with various plastics (although reducing the need to produce more polymers, it is also cyclical, creating work in the processing and collection stages).

Perhaps there needs to be a combination of both recycling and re-appropriating, as there are many merits to plastic recycling, such as energy savings (200% more energy required to incinerate a plastic drink bottle rather than recycling), although some plastics LDPE, Acrylic and Nylon that are not currently recycled, could be re-appropriated using the principles above to create something of value, not something to be continually discarded.


Griffiths, A. 2014 ‘Furniture made from waste tiles by Tsuyoshi Hayashi’, Dezeen, 18 January, Viewed 5 April 2015, <;

Brink, N. 2015 ‘Bentu Design’s recycle series lamps built with construction waste’, DesignBoom, 26 March, Viewed 5 April 2015,<;

Clean Up Australia Ltd 2009, Plastic Recycling Fact Sheet, Viewed 5 April 2015,<;

Post A: Context and it’s varying impact on ‘Design’

The question of what design means in different contexts can be taken in two ways, both questions unveiling important ideas about design. The way in which we can view this question is; what does design (the process), and what does design (the artefact) mean in context. It is important to make this distinction as they both pertain to the use of the final design, but the stage at which the context dominates, determines use.

Recently I observed a piece of plywood between the two doors of the university workshop, acting as a doorstop. Previously this timber was a lamination of veneers, designed for use in applications needing large, flat areas of timber. The user did not design this by process, but by action. Context entered the design process late into the artefact’s life; The timber became a door stop by being placed into a context.

This was design at an improvised, consumer level, design defined as a “purpose … that exists behind an action” (Oxford Dictionary 2015). Design where a pre existing artefact’s purpose is defined by context, rather than context informing the design of the object.

12-4-NUVO-Magazine-Winter-2009-062-063_DESIGNS_FOR_LIVING_PAGE_1_IMAGE_0003 IMG_1937

Left: ‘Rag Chair’ by Tejo Remy for Droog (Robaard/Theuwkens 2009)
Right: Improvised door stop (own image)

Conversely to the plywood door stop, Dutch Design studio Droog Design’s roots lie in a range of objects whose context was at the start of the products life, informing the design process. “The products were exciting … they said something about the context in which they came into being” (Ramaker 2002). Renny Ramakers, Droog cofounder cites a critique of 1990’s design as the start of Droog, an aversion to products presented under the banner of ‘Design’, and a use unconventional materials, style and construction.

Chopsticks are another example of the design process starting with context. The development of chopsticks stemmed from a combination of Confucius teaching and efficient cooking methods. 400 BC saw a scarcity of fuel for cooking, and meat was chopped into smaller pieces to cook quickly, using less fuel, negating the need to have a knife at the table. This also meshed with Confucius teaching, “The honorable and upright man keeps well away from both the slaughterhouse and the kitchen. And he allows no knives on his table.” (Confucius)

Context entered into the door stops life at the final stage, whereas context entered into the development of Chopsticks and Droog design at the very end. Context can inform construction, or it can inform use, both influencing ‘design’. The stage at which context enters the artefacts life determines its form, refinement, purpose.


Ramaker, R. 2002, ‘Less + More: Droog Design in Context’, 010 Uitgeverij, Netherlands

Oxford Dictionaries 2015, viewed 27 April 2015, <;

Bramen, L. 2009, ‘The History of Chopsticks’, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 August, viewed 28 April 2015<;

Rag Chair by Tejo Remy 2009, photographed by Robaard/Theuwkens, Viewed 25 April 2015, <;