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In­done­sian na­ture, cul­ture and peo­ple are at the heart of the de­sign mis­sion of Project Khatulistiwa, a col­lec­tive that aims to cap­ture the ar­chi­pel­ago’s di­verse char­ac­ter in terms of home and liv­ing prod­ucts. With an am­bi­tious mis­sion to bring to life their per­cep­tions of In­done­sia, this is a three-per­son project: in­de­pen­dent prod­uct de­signer denny r. Priy­atna, eu­ge­nio Hen­dro of nook Liv­ing and na­dia Pra­mu­dita, whose Gen­eral ob­ject is a home dé­cor brand that pro­duces items suit­able for com­pact spa­ces. the re­sults of their en­deav­ours are re­lat­able de­sign prod­ucts that bring to mind fa­mil­iar In­done­sian phe­nom­ena.

Priy­atna was in­spired by the orangutans when he cre­ated his rat­tan chair Pono. “Few of them are left,” he points out. “It is a re­minder for peo­ple to pro­tect our furry friend.” With lo­cal cul­ture in mind, Hen­dro de­signed the Kan­dang brass can­dle holder col­lec­tion, in which the pieces take the form of bird cages. Kan­dang’s unique form makes it a good con­ver­sa­tion starter at the din­ing ta­ble, just the per­fect tim­ing to re­veal its equally unique back story. eu­ge­nio picks birds as his main in­spi­ra­tion be­cause they sym­bol­ise luck and pros­per­ity in the asian cul­ture. alas, the ver­ti­cal lifestyle that ur­ban­ites lead re­sults in the ab­sence of birds as pets in mod­ern homes. the can­dle holder, as eu­ge­nio en­vi­sions it, is meant to be a dec­o­ra­tive piece that serves as a cul­tural state­ment at the same time.

“For me, defin­ing In­done­sian cul­ture starts with know­ing your own eth­nic­ity. If you know your­self well, it is much eas­ier to know your broth­ers and sis­ters,” Hen­dro, who is of Ja­vanese and Manadonese des­cent, rea­sons. this phi­los­o­phy has led him to ex­plore tra­di­tional Ja­vanese tech­niques of weav­ing, burn­ing, ham­mer­ing and colour­ing through the fur­ni­ture col­lec­tions he has fo­cused on since 2010.

one of the things na­dia ad­mires most about In­done­sians is their col­lec­tive love of gath­er­ing, or “kongkow”, ses­sions. Hence, the solo Kongkow set is a tea set made of striped teak. “the idea is for peo­ple to feel a sense of to­geth­er­ness in times when work and pre­sent day chal­lenges get in the way of fam­ily re­u­nions,” na­dia ex­plains. “some­times de­sign­ers fo­cus only on com­mer­cial projects and we for­get the very rea­son why we started de­sign­ing. Project Khatulistiwa is the plat­form for us to be prac­ti­cal de­sign­ers who cre­ate things that make every­day life eas­ier.”

the three de­sign­ers be­lieve that good de­sign is about sim­plic­ity. says their mis­sion state­ment: “Good de­sign has to be in­vis­i­ble, yet im­pact­ful. It must be seam­less and in­te­grated into every­day set­ting. Most im­por­tantly, de­sign should af­fect the society, both so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally.”

their grass­roots ap­proach to de­sign has taken Project Khatulistiwa out­side of its home­land. the col­lec­tive was in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in the asia

Project Khatulistiwa spe­cialises in creat­ing re­lat­able de­sign prod­ucts that bring to mind fa­mil­iar In­done­sian phe­nom­ena

tal­ents ex­hi­bi­tion in Bangkok, thai­land in 2014. “We met and talked to de­sign­ers from across the asia Pa­cific,” says na­dia. “We shared our sto­ries and val­ues about In­done­sia de­sign, and lis­tened to their points of views on de­sign. We also learned about how de­sign works in dif­fer­ent coun­tries. It was truly an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that set our bench­mark even higher than be­fore.”

a month later, Project Khatulistiwa launched its de­but col­lec­tion, show­cas­ing it at a week­end ex­hi­bi­tion at dia.lo.gue, a con­tem­po­rary art space in Ke­mang. the prod­ucts are avail­able on­line at Bobobobo, a lifestyle e-com­merce site. Project Khatulistiwa’s rather mass ap­proach to its prod­ucts re­flects an in­clu­sive spirit. It is the spirit they aim to bring to the next step they are tak­ing for the ini­tia­tive, and of course, for In­done­sia.

“We are try­ing to be hon­est, and get to know more about our roots while learn­ing and pre­serv­ing In­done­sian cul­ture. It is the best we can do as cit­i­zens of the world,” says na­dia. “any de­signer who shares the same vi­sion is more than wel­come to join us. the three of us each have dif­fer­ent ideas on de­sign, three dif­fer­ent mar­kets to ap­peal to and three dif­fer­ent ways of do­ing things. But we share the same vi­sion, and that’s how we make Project Khatulistiwa work.”


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