“When discussing things online with people from other countries or people who are not that familiar with our culture, there will often be a loss of focus due to different linguistic logics; but the design is to use the simplest symbols to represent or produce merchandise, for it is the one thing that can best achieve empathy.”—Jeff Lin, Designer at Shan Jie Hao
“Jeff’s design gives me a new idea that I had never thought about, it is very unique and modern. I think it will be a hit on the market. It’s flexible, like the map that we can lipatkan (“fold it” in Malay).” ── Sandra Trinatta, Coordinator of Bidayuh Rattan Mats and Crafts, Serikin, Sarawak, Malaysia
Designer and Craft Community
“I especially like bamboo’s warm color, soft, light texture, natural and simple aroma, it creates infinite possibilities in a limited number of weaving methods”
Jeff Lin, the founder of Shan Jie Hao bamboo studio, observed many tools made of bamboo in his grandfather’s tea factory and bamboo weaving in his daily life. As he grew up, he found that these objects were fading from his life. By chance, he came into contact with bamboo craft again, and bamboo became a part of his life. Appreciating the beauty of the bamboo which is gifted from nature, Jeff wishes the aesthetic of bamboo craft can be passed on. Through his interpretation, he hopes to change people’s stereotypes about bamboo.
Located in Serikin, a border town between Sarawak and Kalimantan, Indonesia, Bidayuh Rattan Mats and Crafts is renowned for its mat weaving of ‘tikar gelasah’, made out of a combination of rattan and tree bark strips, and their traditional Bidayuh basketry. The materials used are sourced locally in the forests. This trans-border community of craft artists that have earned their livelihoods through these fiber crafts for decades is now organized by Sandra Trinatta and her family, who promote these crafts in Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore. They also work with designers for custom orders.
Serikin is a city on the border of Sarawak and Indonesia. In the past, the weekend market would always be lively, attracting many tourists coming for shopping from Kuching, and vice versa. However, the pandemic not only had significant impacts on the market but also claimed the lives of two senior artisans in the community. As the community coordinator, Sandra runs a shop that sells local crafts; it has also been impacted by the pandemic, but she insists on remaining open, and selling the works of local artisans.
Regarding this co-creation project, Sandra shared that the most challenging thing was “weather,” as Sarawak in the raining season is definitely not the best time in the year for natural dyeing. In Sarawak, other than using rambutan leaves as a natural dye, the best natural material is a kind of leaves called Nyam, but Nyam is rare and hard to collect, and the dyeing process requires exposure to the sun; the production was slightly delayed, which constantly made the partner designer Jeff Lin nervous in the process. Fortunately, through Sandra’s hard work, they produced two works that belong to “home.”
FIBER CO-CREATED PRODUCTS
〈Collageable Mat〉〈Light Catcher〉
After learning the local story, cooperating designer Jeff Lin decided to derive the designs from the theme of “home.” He asked Sandra: “What will the concept of home remind you of?” Sandra replied furniture and floor mats. After more field studies, Jeff found out that floor mats to the Bidayuh people are like barriers—wherever they lay down a mat, regardless of indoor or outdoor, it will be the place for the family to rest. Starting from this concept, Jeff created <Collageable Mat> that consists of several floor mats of different sizes and patterns. Every mat represents one family member, and they can be independent individuals, or be connected by a little fastening mechanism. To Jeff, when he talk about the concept of home, he will first think of light, for when the light is on in a house, it means that someone is home, and home is one place that brings people a peace of mind like lighthouse. <Light Catcher> borrows the shape of the local “fishing basket,” using two-layered weaving to achieve the imagery of “capturing light.” The two works are like heaven and earth, and, on a deeper level, explore the relationships between people and family members.
Shan Jie Hao Bamboo Studio
Hi! I am Jeff Lin, a designer at Shan Jie Hao bamboo studio!
Bidayuh Rattan Mats and Crafts
Sandra Trinatta, Coordinator of Bidayuh Rattan Mats and Crafts, Serikin, Sarawak, Malaysia!