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What if?: Indonesian-Dutch designers collaboration imagines sustainable society

Annabel Bowles


Jakarta  /  Thu, January 31, 2019  /  02:08 pm
What if?: Indonesian-Dutch designers collaboration imagines sustainable society

The collaboration between Dutch and Indonesian designers focus on various environmental issues. (Shutterstock/File)

A group of young Dutch designers are in Jakarta to work alongside Indonesian designers on sustainability projects as part of What If Lab: The Sustainable Society.   

The initiative, launched at last year’s Dutch Design Week, paired five specially selected Indonesian designers with five Dutch designers to target some of Indonesia’s environmental problems.

The designers from both countries came together at Erasmus Huis Jakarta on Thursday to present their projects to the wider Indonesian community.

Each pair are focusing on a different environmental issue, including primary education, air pollution, community development, carbon-negative materials and sustainable fashion.

Erasmus Huis manager Joyce Nijssen highlighted the importance of design innovation and collaboration in her welcome speech.

“The way we, as humanity, choose to live our lives today, is causing the world to change at a fast rate. These rapid developments have global effects, and bring challenges with no easy solutions."

“Design is a flexible and extendable discipline that can form the basis for innovation. The Netherlands values innovation and we think that improving the poverty of living in Indonesia cannot be resolved as individuals; we need a community to make a difference,” Nijssen said.

Dutch designer Mitchell Jacobs of Studio Tast and Indonesian designer Darina Maulana created an educational tool based on mading, short for majalah dinding, which are wall magazines to be used in Indonesian primary schools.

Their maddingencourages students to be aware of their environment and to develop “knowledge with their brains, awareness with their hearts, and doing with their bodies”.

Air pollution, being one of Jakarta’s most pressing issues, is the focus of Indonesian designer Vivian Maretina and Dutch designer Marleen van Bergeijk.

The pair developed several initiatives that raise awareness of air pollution through accessible visualizations of pollution data, including “smart masks”, smartphone apps and “smart panels” to be placed in populated street side areas.

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Indonesian designer Kamil Muhammed and Dutch designer Joes, respectively representing their companies pppooollland Joes + Manon, created a framework that bridges the gap between “expert” and “non-expert” in community development.

Focused on Kampung Kunir, an informal settlement in Jakarta, the designers engaged the individuals that live there to co-create a more sustainable community.

Indonesian designers Ronaldiaz Hartantyo of Mycotech and Nidiya Kusmaya worked with Dutch designers Iwan Pol of Olasol and Karin Vlug on developing and making products with a new material, Mylea, a leather made with mushroom mycelium.

Mycotech has developed the fungus-based material since 2015, which has a carbon-negative footprint and grows on agricultural waste in as little as 14 days.

Ronaldiaz and Pol joined forces to combine mycelium and other natural materials to construct new products, including bio-synthetic leather and building materials.

Nidiya and Vlug worked together on the mycelium leather, experimenting with natural food-based dyes and heat-binding methods, to sustainably produce garments and accessories.

The ongoing projects, funded by the Dutch Embassy in Indonesia, Dutch Culture and Dutch Design Foundation, is a shining example of cross-cultural collaboration.

“Designers from both countries have profited from each other’s knowledge, craftsmanship and experience,” Nijssen said.

An exhibition on the developed projects will be held at the Erasmus Huis Jakarta in May. (kes)


The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post under the ACICIS program.


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.