Interview: POPULO BATIK

The two guys behind POPULO BATIK are really sympathetic chaps: Bai (on the left) and Joseph (right) that you can see in the natural limelight here.

During my days in Jakarta I had the opportunity to ask the designer duo that is a couple, about their label, the cultural heritage of Batik and the individual productions process.

With their label POPULO BATIK they fuse tradition and the contemporary. Ancient old Indonesian batik tradition goes into the development of the patterns used. However, the cuts and color choice are modern and progressive.

We only know Batik in a marihuana-smoking, hippie context and slackline playing indie-brats- What you guys design looks different, could you explain?

It’s true that in Germany Batik is more of a term used with regards to the Hippie culture. That’s because here you primarily associate the Tie Dye process with Batik. In the 70s you could even get those do it yourself coloring sets that ruined quite a few washing rooms in homes. Indonesian Batik however, is a coloring technique where the parts to be colored will have hot wax latched onto them. This will be either painted by hand on the fabric or put on it with a block stamp.

If every design is colored by hand, how does that impact the prices?

Besides putting on the wax all other process are done by hand as well. Starting at the coloring, drying, to taking off the wax. Of course hand-made things are pricey. The hand-painted Batiks are wearable art and more comparable to paintings in that sense. The hand-stamped pieces are cheaper but also not cheap at all. However, you will get a one-of-a-kind product because every piece is unique.

It is a proclaimed goal of BATIK POPULO to preserve the Indonesian Batik tradition. How did you establish this great, heroic mission?

Since Indonesian Batik is a UNESCO world cultural heritage, Indonesia is experiencing a batik boom. However this boom has nothing to do with actual Batik. They are fabric with machine-produced batik prints, usually produced in China. Unfortunately most consumers can’t distinguish between fabrics with prints and real Batiks using the wax technique. The traditional small hand-craft shops that produce real Batiks can hardly survive and compete with their prices. That’s why we want to preserve the cultural heritage with our collection. Additionally, we are attracting customers outside Indonesia a lot who appreciate the art involved.

“The customer can become part of the creative process”. Sounds super modern, how is this possible?

Due to the time-consuming production process we can produce individually for our customers. First they choose a pattern we have developed, then you decide on colors and material. Finally the customer decides on a cut. Depending on the choice made (the more colors and the smaller, the more complex the process) we need approximately one month for hand-stamped pieces and between 6-12 months for hand-painted batiks.

Images: Tobias Schult via JMen Malaysia

Von: David Kurt Karl Roth

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