Tips for Presenting Contemporary Nusantara Culture

The adaptation of Nusantara culture is one way of preserving the Indonesian culture. Why does it need to be preserved? There are many reasons and it includes having an identity so that we know our “roots”, it can also be for survivors from an economical standpoint.

“Roots” or identity is needed not only as a symbol but also as a national value. These values will guide the nation when facing an issue. Including how a nation faces a stateless era as in the current digital era.

On the other hand, culture can be “commercialized”, of course by still respecting their values. We knew how Korean cultures enter Indonesia through K-Pop and Korean dramas. Those shows became a good marketing channel for various Korean products ranging from food, fashion, and lifestyle. There is a considerable economic value that can be contributed by a country’s culture or tradition.

Meanwhile, Nusantara’s culture has been an inspiration for designers and producers to produce their respective works. However, not all “succeed” in adopting this concept and thereby making it into a great product. These works not only produce a special features product but also a way to preserve one’s cultural heritage.

Virtual line motif of sound waves
Photograph by Abbasource

For example, we want to preserve Gamelan (musical instrument) while young children find it a bit difficult to listen to Gamelan as their grandparents did. Are these young people not preserving their culture? Not really. Times changes as well as tastes. But we agree that Gamelan must still exist and be sustainable.

We have to recognize first that the Gamelan is a beautiful and inspiring art form. French composer Claude Debussy was inspired by Gamelan in composing his music. This was written by Bernard Dorians in the book about Indonesia and French People from the XVI to the XX Century. If we listen to Debussy’s work, the twilight scene where Bella Swan plays Edward Cullen’s music: Claire de Lune, is it exactly like a Gamelan? Certainly not, we are listening to classical European music in the film, but there is a similar sound we feel when we listening to Gamelan.

Designers should take inspiration from the Indonesian culture. Not necessarily in the exact form. For example, a product inspired by traditional clothing evolved into a design that is used for attending weddings instead of the initial vision of making casual clothing. Likewise, when designing accessories inspired by one of the kingdoms in Nusantara, we should not take all the similarities of the jewelry worn by the queen but it is important to take some of the design elements. 

The Saron Console by designer Vincentius Masella was inspired by the Saron, one of the musical instruments in the Gamelan. What did does Aldi take from the Saron? Aldi only took a virtual line of soundwaves generated when the Saron is being played. This virtual line was carved on the edge of this high table. In addition, if we look at its slender shape, It looks like a slender Saron musical instrument.

Elementary school children in Jono Village, Temayang District, Bojonegoro Regency, East Java play saron, a gamelan music.
Photograph by Abbasource
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