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Built on stories, Indonesia's creative economy is crossing boundaries

Devina Heriyanto
Devina Heriyanto

The Jakarta Post

London  /  Thu, March 14, 2019  /  03:03 pm
Built on stories, Indonesia's creative economy is crossing boundaries

Colorful craft: Tenun ikat fabrics often features traditional patterns while embracing modern motifs. (JP/Nedi Putra AW)

Indonesia’s creative economy begins with the stories inherited for generations and now goes beyond traditional boundaries, a panel concluded on Wednesday, the second day of the 2019 London Book Fair at Olympia Hall in London.

Fashion designer and Ikat Indonesia founder Didiet Maulana stated that his brand has tried to introduce traditional fabrics to the younger generation through storytelling on social media.

"Indonesia is built on stories," said Didiet, "The [textile] patterns have their own stories too."

For instance, the pattern used in a collaboration between Ikat Indonesia and Starbucks reflects the promise of Indonesian soil and nature.

Traditional blouses have their own stories too, according to Didiet, who recently launched a book titled Kisah Kebaya (The Story of Kebaya).

Read also: Indonesian publishers short-listed for London Book Fair’s Excellence Awards

While Ikat Indonesia is known for its traditional fabrics, handcrafted through partnerships with more than 300 local weavers, the brand is working on collaborations and projects that go beyond the conventional realm.

Under these collaborations, tenun can go hand in hand with Barbie and Mickey Mouse, refuting the preconception that traditional fabrics have to be old-fashioned.

Neil Semple, creative content lead at the United Kingdom’s Department for International Trade (DIT), remarked that more artists across the world were crossing boundaries.

Mochtar Sarman, who has extensive experience in international licensing, is doing exactly the same with his Gatot Kaca project. His company Satria Dewa Studio is in the initial production of a Gatot Kaca movie, based on the heroic character from Hindu-Javanese Mahabharata stories, dating back to more than 700 years.

"We are not only making a movie, but we are also making a franchise," Mochtar said.

If this sounds like an ambitious project, it's because it is. The teaser for the movie alone cost Rp 1 billion (US$ 70,000), despite the fact that no actor has been cast to play the main character of Gatot Kaca.

The franchise will consist of eight movies, spin-off series, comic books, a mobile game, merchandise and theme park. Mochtar said Satria Dewa Studio was in talks with Netflix about the series but nothing had been finalized yet.

According to the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf), Indonesia’s creative economy contributed 7.44 percent to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016. Fashion and film, respectively, contributed 18.15 percent and 10.09 percent to the creative industry. It was estimated that the whole creative economy was worth Rp 1 trillion in 2017. (kes)