During my time in Central Java I had the opportunity to meet with Singgih Kartono, a local product designer whose design philosophy aimed to inspire the locals, who lived in villages, a sense of pride in what they can produce from their village. He also aims to encourage those who have been educated to a tertiary level, to not move out of the country but rather develop their own brands and work through the villages they grew up in. These philosophies and his selfless nature inspired me to find out more about him and his background that led him to becoming the designer he is, and where he sees himself and his brands in the future.
I had a chance to interview Kartono during the festival Matai Air. We sat by one of the stalls and I spoke with him about his early design experiences as well as other aspects of his design work.
From my initial questions I found that he has been working on many of the products he creates for a long time. The wooden radio project, that he is best known for, is a development of what he did as his major design project in 1992 during his university education in design arts. He elaborated on how he designs using natural materials that are local to him, such as bamboo wood, with the exception of the internal electronic parts to his products which he sources from Panasonic.
It was soon after his university education that he was encouraged by his friends to pursue a career in designing hand crafted wooden products that were not just beautiful decorative pieces but highly reliable and functional products. After 11 years of working for a toy design company designing wooden toys he left to start his own brand Magno.
Kartono likes to mix hand crafts and art into his design as he sees these two as being a part of each other. This way of thinking is a clear relation to design philosophies in the context of Central Java which is explored further in the earlier post “Context Defining Design”.
In the future, Kartono would like to develop a new ‘daily life’ product brand targeting people and students with products they use in their day to day life. This will aim to shift ideas that the village is a trap, to rather inspiring a realisation that the village can be a beneficial part of their lives when they aim to reach successful futures.
Notes from Interview with Singgih Kartono, 21/2/16
Living in Indonesia, 1997-2016, Practical Information for Expats Living in Indonesia, Jakarta, Last viewed 20/3/16, <http://www.expat.or.id/info/info.html>
Singgih Kartono, 2016, Origin of the Wooden Radio, Wooden-Radio, Indonesia, Last viewed 20/3/16, <http://www.wooden-radio.com/gb/wooden-radio-herkunft.php>
ibark, 2015, Magno Designs, Australia, Last viewed 20/3/16, <http://ibark.com.au/magno-designs>