Product Design in Indonesia
Indonesia GDP last year was 6.5% and predicted will remain to be the top emerging economies in 2012. It is one of the largest national economy in Southeast Asia. It has a market-based economy in which government plays a significant role owing more than 164 state owned-enterprises. The government administers prices on several basic goods, including fuel, rice, and electricity. That’s why this BBM issue will not go away that easily.
While foreign direct investors complain that Indonesia lacks the legal protections and infrastructure, last year itself the foreign direct investors grew 20% to a record of $20 billion. Garuda Indonesia re-brand itself and enjoying its steady growth. PT KAI (Kereta Api Indonesia) sent 82 people of its team to China studying how they operate the fast train and codes of working conducts. And the commission of DPR (government) staff is enjoying themselves in Germany using government’s money.
Indonesia will remain enjoying its sweet time despite the crisis in USA and Europe. Many of Indonesians who studied there, came back to Indonesia for good as it is easier to get job now. According to Mastercard, 57% of indonesian credit cards owner started their buying behavior by buying stuff online. The increase of online business has given birth to the new association AEI – Asosiasi E-Commerce Indonesia. Social media and Blackberry craze will still remain. Youtube actors and actress like ‘Riri Dumin’ and ‘Polisi Gorontalo’ are increasing.
Nevertheless the number of successful entrepreneur is relatively low: only 1.56% out of 240 million people. In ratio, it is only 1:83 as compared to Philippines 1:66. My point here is this is where ‘Designpreneurship’ and ‘Creative Economy’ will come into the pictures.
It is interesting to see people at poverty stage are forced to remain creative and innovative to survive with the never ending increase of oil and rice. Surprisingly these people who lives in the slum conditions invented many interesting applications out of their junkyard. One guy in Batam recycled used wood material and used it as an construction buiding materials. Another incident, there is a ‘self-studied’ drop out student that design solar panel for his small house and water powered genset system to supply the whole village electricity. Many similar stories are reported in the local TV channels which 40% of its content are only advertisement. The business in branding and ‘iklan’ (advertising) will never die. Everybody is going into multimedia and videography – and lately wedding photography.
And so most of school only offers Visual communication, Graphic Design and Motion Graphics. That’s where the money is. For those who joined product design, it is only their dream to work in IPTN – Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusantara (Domestic Aircraft Industry) only when Habibie decides to revive it. Or work at Honda designing the old same motorbike that ended up being used in the many recent gang fight. ITB and StisiTelkom does offer product design course. But most of the graduates ended up doing furniture design, handicraft and or some other traditional products.
There is a field of study that is part of Industrial design that is called Cognitive Study and Instructional System. This is where Indonesia currently needs the most. A factory in Cibaduyut, West Java hired children of 10 years and above to make shoes. The workflow design is so unproductive and can bring danger to these kids. If only it was done the other way, not only the kids can learn ‘skill’ but also bring ‘value’ to its society.
Recently there is an increase in motivational talk, that reminds everybody that it is okay to make mistake. The school system is designed with thick textbook and memorization – students are passive and just listen to teacher. Failure is not an option, teacher is always right and ended up they release this anger on the street whenever there is demo; with complimentary food and t–shirt.
Everybody has to fight themselves to fill their hungry stomach only with Indomie. Government support is not always an option. Unlike Thailand, the government has its own research centre for the public that offers trend prediction and ensure that the local products are sellable for International market. The lack of International resources, competition and foreign exposure just demotivate most of the local students. Although there are scholarship and help available but they are all scattered around. End up piracy and copying the overseas product is common. Design becomes banal and expected. Most of the time also, it is quite hard to go global.
Outside Jakarta, life is totally different. Culture shock almost everywhere. Although there is so much talent but it is a fact of life that a proper guidance with strong discipline and work etiquette is required. Most of them ended up hiring foreigners. There should be a system where ‘trainers’ get trains the ‘trainer’. This can be done in main city and passed down to smaller city. As such, over a period of long term social issues can be fixed. The person has to be taught with Adaptability, Consistency, Leadership, Respect and Trust. Just like SBY, he was based in USA and was able to passed down the knowledge to his country.
Product Design is more than entertainment. There is a lot of thoughts and psychological factors that needs to be considered. Donald Norman wrote a very good book on ‘Design of everyday things’ – from door hinge to car design. Design has to suit its context and solve its problem from beginning stage to after usage. Indonesia is not lacking in ‘hardware skill’ but more to ‘software’. A classic example would be biometric passport. The immigration department has imported that technology from overseas, but when they take the thumbprint, they do it anyhow and carelessly that one even cant even see the thumbprint itself, so whats the point? Another example, when you are entering a shopping center I Jakarta, why do you need 4 person standing at the gate picking up the ticket from the ticket machine?
Creative Economy does not have to be necessarily be global. It can just solve the local context and self-sustainable. From how can one design a safe LPG or circuit breaker to prevent fire. And how can one design a ‘unbreakable’ tsunami warning system. Garbage and mosquitos is like everybody’s good friend in Indonesia. How can through design thinking and sustainability this can be reduced?
Product design is not only making things nice. Many things have revolutionized human life such as car, camera, internet and robots. There is a great and deeper level of realization being taught in Product Design. If the above vision is achieved, I am sure that the mentioned knowledge and skill can transform Indonesia as a Developed country.