Working with Artisans
A local trade that remains the few which employs to empower rather than employing the cheapest possible, the Malaysian east coast and Terengganu had always been a sanctuary of tradition.
From once having a row of shops serving as the go-to area for those looking to buy or produce Batik, suppliers, traders and practitioners have now had to make way for bigger commercial developments such as, of all things, fast food (Chicken Cottage now sits atop what once was Malaysia's sole Batik Stamp maker's 'Kampung house', sea-view workshop. Somewhat displaced by modern developments and consumerism, we also witnessed the struggle.
Here we met Pok Ya, who once worked from his workshop, a Kampung House, right by his family home, both facing the beautiful Malaysian East Coast view of the South China Sea.
Pok Ya is the sole Batik Stamp maker in Malaysia. Until today, he crafts by hand amazingly intricate stamps made out of discarded aluminium from once cooking oil cans. Batik brands of today are most likely to buy patterns crafted by him, or submit digitally printed graphics to him, which he would then replicate by hand, with an old soldering machine, into a 100% accurate copy of the patterns, but in Batik Stamp form. He sells these stamps for a meagre RM100-RM500, while brands you find today, will profit by incomparable margins. A feat impossible if not for Pok Ya.
Sadly, he now has to work on the 16th floor of a low cost government housing project given to him in compensation of the land he had forfeited to the state, to make way for "economic development". Chicken Cottage, a British fast food chain, now sits atop his former Batik Workshop.
Batik remains intricate, beautiful and sought after, the economics and politics of it's surviving practitioners, increasingly becomes a tough and disparate landscape.
We formed bonds and partnerships, a connection to the place, culture and community we deeply appreciate. We hope to share with you Biji-biji bags with incorporated Batik.
The Vertical Garden Bag
YIM and Biji-biji collaborated to produce a multi-purpose bag that is upcycled from discarded banners. Widely known as the ' Vertical Garden' , it is a PVC messenger bag that opens up to reveal a few compartmentilised pockets. Users can either plant an indoor garden in it or use it as storage in their homes! This bag encourages people to not only value the potential of waste materials, but there's more than meets the eye when it comes to conscious design.
Vertical garden banner bags are produced with the help of GOLD, a non-govermental organisation (NGO) aiming to promote economic empowerment for young adults with learning disabilities. By engaging GOLD, Biji-biji is able to to educate the kids at the centre and also teach them how to recycle items for reproduction and sales.
Click here to learn more about the collaboration!
Donate your Idea workshop
THE proverb, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, best describes the ‘Donate Your Idea’ workshop organised for the disabled community.
Yayasan Inovasi Malaysia (YIM) and a social enterprise startup, Biji-biji Initiative launched the “Donate Your Idea” program which will see prolific designers waiving their Intellectual Property for the benefit of communities with disabilities in need.
The event hosted a production workshop attended by 20 members of the Generating Opportunity for Learning Disability Foundation (GOLD) that consists of children with learning disabilities, single mothers and members of the Rohingya community. They were given training in production of innovative designs to empower them in attaining a sustainable livelihood.
The knowledge transfer workshop was conducted by local fashion design label Embun.The participants were trained to create multipurpose bag that can also be used as a vertical garden tool using upcycled canvases from promotional buntings and banners. This also addresses the environmental issue of excessive wastage. Most of the used banners and buntings were also donated by YIM.
Click here to read the full article release.