“Modern, chaotic and traffic-jams!” a fellow fashion design student at UTS, Agnes described Jakarta, the largest city of Indonesia using these words. Agnes was born in Indonesia and lived in Jakarta for 12 years until she moved to Australia. I interviewed her and asked her some casual questions about Indonesia and her takes on how her culture background changes her design style.
“Indonesia has a very rich culture. From fashion, food, places. It is made up of a lot of islands and each of the islands would have their own cultures.” Agnes told me when I asked her about what does she think is the most fascinating thing of Indonesia from a culture perspective. Different traditional food, clothes, houses and conventions from each of the islands make Indonesia’s culture very dynamic and interesting. Being born and raised in Jakarta, Agnes holds the city close to her heart and says it is her favourite city comparing to some of the other places she visited in Indonesia. She also thinks Solo (Surakarta) is a beautiful side of Indonesia that is more traditional and also has amazing food. I had to ask her about her favourite traditional dishes when food was mentioned. Agnes answered “Martabak” immediately.
Martabak is a stuffed pancake and has different ingredients depending on the location. She thinks people are trying to westernise the dish by making it into other flavours and it loses the originality so she strongly recommends getting original flavours such as cheese or peanut butter.
“I love its culture, I feel blessed to be one because I guess the way I design would be different to anyone here if I give a touch of Indonesian culture into it.” Emotions and innovative ideas sourced from cultural background, grasping differences between cultural values of the society often result in amazing designs (Debeli & Zhou, 2013). Agnes believes having a different background influences her when she works and the culture rooted in her reflects in her designs if she puts a touch of Indonesian in it. Batik inspires her the most and she thinks it’s interesting and challenging trying to make it modern and more accessible to wear in different part of the country.
When I asked her about fashion in Indonesia, Agnes said she is not a big fan of modern Indonesian fashion as it is too busy and she is a firm believer of ‘less is more’ but Indonesia culture does influence her. Her favourite designer from Indonesia is Biyan Wanaatmad, the most prominent high-end fashion designer there. He integrates between the traditional culture and modernity, which is something she is aiming to do in her designs.
D, Debeli. & J, Zhou. 2013, Analyzing the Cultural Background of Textile Designers’ On their Innovative Thinking, ICETMS, viewed 29 April 2015, <www.atlantis-press.com/php/download_paper.php?id=7196>