BEHIND THE PRINTS: INDONESIAN INSPIRATION
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for”
– Georgia O‘Keeffe
Design is a byproduct of our experiences; inspiration rarely comes from just sitting on the couch. The prints in TAMGA’s Dreamweaver collection tell stories about our journey across Indonesia that we have trouble expressing in words. Isn’t art always that way?
Natural beauty is everywhere you look in Indonesia – from the colourful flowers of Bali, to the deep blue of the Indian Ocean, to the striking green of Javanese volcanoes. But what truly fascinates us at TAMGA is less obvious to the naked eye. The ancient arts of ikat and batik are intricate, practiced quietly, and expressed through skills that are passed down from generation to generation. They tell a story about the Indonesian people and landscape that are more clear and authentic than words could ever be.
Myself and my fellow TAMGA team members Yana and Anna traveled across Bali, Java and Sumatra in search of unique textiles. Along the way we met artisans, communities and organizations dedicated to producing these timeless pieces. There were no guides or itineraries, we looked up information on the Internet and travelled mostly by rented motorbike (and some pretty sketchy airlines between islands). We often just sat and observed as artisans worked, and they were always happy to have a spectator in what is mainly a long, solitary commitment to their craft (Ikat and Batik pieces can take months to complete).
With the help of our insanely talented print designer Susanna, we were able to turn hundreds of photos and stories about colour and pattern into the TAMGA Dreamweaver prints.
Our Flores and Sumba prints are inspired by the amazing Ikat textiles of Bali and Timor, especially the rare and mystical double Ikat from a village called Tenganan. Ikat means to “tie” or “bind” in the Indonesian language, and is used to describe the traditional colouring and weaving technique that is used on many Indonesian islands. Cotton or silk are dyed with natural colours, and are bound before dyeing to create patterns of resistance in the thread (think tye-dye). The threads are then strung on to a loom and woven into cloths by expert artisans with a skill set that is increasingly difficult to find.
In order to give our customers a taste of real, hand-made ikat, we produced a limited run of Premium items in the Dreamweaver Collection that integrate traditional woven ikat from the remote island of Savu in eastern Indonesia. Sourced through the amazing organization Threads of Life, these textiles are the real deal – produced by hand using natural dyes and traditional motifs. Unfortunately, the eastern islands of Indonesia have been going through a drought for the past two years, which makes the depth of indigo that you see in these pieces next to impossible to re-create.
Our Java and Solo prints from the Dreamweaver Collection are inspired by the beautiful batik of Central Java. Batik is a method of wax-resist dyeing that is employed in several countries, but the beauty of the pieces produced in Central Java around the towns of Yogyakarta and Solo are second to none. For hundreds of years, Javanese artisans have been applying layers of intricate patterns to cloth with wax – dyeing, washing and repeating several times before the finished piece is ready. The TAMGA team visited artisans all over Java and Bali, sitting and watching as they used simple ingredients to create pure magic.
The Batik cloth that you will find on our Amalia top from the Dreamweaver Collection is hand-made and naturally dyed on the island of Bali by Breeze, a small cottage industry of Balinese batik artists. Sourced through Threads of Life, this pattern is a one-of-a-kind Balinese take on the Batik art that Indonesia is famous for.
As you might expect, we took in way more inspiration than we could express in our prints. For example, the wood-work in Sumatra blew us away. Have you ever walked around a house just to stare at its exterior? Of course not, and neither had we until we saw the ‘Rumah Gadang’ houses in the village of Pandai Sikek. All over the village there are traditional wooden houses that the Minangkabau people paint in bright colours. The colourful motifs are hand-carved into the wood, and reflect the natural environment and beliefs of the Minangkabau people.
The Pusako weaving house in Pandai Sikek is a perfect example (above image). It’s run by Adyan Anwar and his family, who have been weaving and selling traditional Songket textiles in this historic village for hundreds of years. These cloths follow similar motifs to the houses, they’re based on the surrounding environment and the Minangkabau belief that ‘nature is our teacher’. If that's the case, we're eager students.