Furniture and handicraft industry will continue to shine bright, despite the global financial crisis still encompass developed countries. This confidence is held by Teguh Ambar Tjahyono, Chairman of The Indonesian Furniture and Handicraft Association (Asmindo).
Ambar's belief is based on the success of the Indonesia Furniture and Craft Fair (IFFINA) 2009, which ended last Sunday. Five-day exhibition at the Jakarta Fair area, recorded sales transaction around US$ 170 million. This figure will increase, since the buyers will visit directly to industrial centers of Indonesian furniture and handicrafts, after IFFINA 2009.
Trade exhibition held by Asmindo this time involving at least 311 participants and 2,000 buyers from 94 countries. "The biggest transaction still come from the USA, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, and Middle Eastern countries," said Ambar.
IFFINA's good achievement gives fresh wind into huge campaign of Indonesian creative industries. Since the government set the year 2009 as the Year of Creative Industries, many groups pay attention directly to the 14-sector of creative industries.
This year, creative industries contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) growth is targeted to increase 6%.Higher than the average contribution of the creative industries for the years 2002-2006, only 4.74% or equivalent to Rp 79 trillion each year. Its target also create employment for 5.4 million people ( more detail see table).
Furniture and handicrafts, along with fashion, design, and advertising, is the largest contributor in the creative industries. Every year, average growth of export value for furniture and crafts is 7.5%. The export market and craft furniture targeted to reach U.S. $ 2.7 billion during this year.
Sure,it takes hard work and the right strategy to achieve this target. Speaking the strategy, related parties in the furniture and handicraft industry are likely agree to choose environmentally friendly theme. Evidence can be seen in the series of exhibitions held during next month.
After IFFINA 2009 brought "The Gateway of Green Rattan Furniture & Lifestyle" theme, Inacraft 2009 did not want to lag. Exhibition held by the Indonesian Handicraft Exporters and Manufacturers Association (Asephi) on 22-26 April at the Central Council of Jakarta Convention Center will pick a theme "Inspiring People to Care about the Environmentally Friendly Handicraft".
Ambar explained, they selected green products theme with primary consideration that it is the best way to win the competition. Indeed, Indonesia is still superior in terms of quality, material, color, ethnic characteristics, and price when compared with similar products from other Southeast Asian countries.
However, green products could fail to penetrate American and European market that looked important for environmentally friendly products certification (eco-label). Those labels are meant as a sign to inform that the wood used as a based material of the product came from a manageable forest which was run accordingly. In other words, the wood used is not the result of illegal logging. "We must prove that products of Indonesia, in addition to high quality, also environmentally friendly. Even some of the exhibitions transaction is allocated to forest conservation," explains Ambar.
To help 2000 members get a green certification, Asmindo formed a new unit Asmindo Care Certification (ACC). It receives support from Senada (four-year program funded by the United States Agency for International Development – USAID) and is on duty giving the consultation mechanism to gain certification.
The establishment of ACC was in accordance with the needs of the furniture and handicrafts entrepreneur. There are 40 companies that have used ACC services and successfully obtain eco-label.
Strict green certification requirements at the same time opening new opportunities for products of Indonesia. Previously, in a separate occasion, the Director of Indonesian Republic Handicraft's Development Association (APIKRI), Amir Panzuri, ask the entrepreneurs or prospective employers of handicraft products to take this golden opportunity.
He said, eco-friendly crafts not only related to the wood raw material. But also forbid to use scarce goods raw material, not renewable goods, and mineral obtained with destroying the environment.
Although the rules seemed to limit creativity, in fact there are many types of green materials. For example, pandanus leaf fiber, water hyacinth, bamboo, sengon, mahogany, and sonokeling wood. All of them are fast growing trees and not rare trees.
Such restrictions can also trigger the creativity of the craftsman. Look at APIKRI movement to develop pandanus leaf fiber crafts. When developed, it will produce high quality products and saleable in the market. To encourage the use of pandanus fiber, APIKRI has pilot project in Congot Beach, Yogyakarta. Since May 2008, as many as 5000 pandanus seeds spread along the coast. These plants can be harvested in two years.
Other creativity also came from other local craftsmen. They use waste raw materials. When combined with innovative design, good marketing, and tenacity, their products can be successful in the domestic market, even to the world market.
Processed steel waste product made by Yeyen Komalasari is one good example. Woman who live in Cilegon, Banten Province, has made steel waste plates into bag, mobile phone hook, mat, table decorations, and helmet.
Around 600 residents in the Bojong Genggong, Bandung regency, hang up the pot of rice on textile factory waste. They weave yarns into cloth plate, mat, and table cloth. Every day, hundreds of dozen products made by Genggong Bojong weavers spread to various cities in Indonesia. "In fact some of them are exported to Brunei Darussalam," said H. Eli Sadeli.
Eli, who has 30 traditional weaving equipment and 40 employees, admitted that the form and design of his products are simple. Yet, the results could adequate family needs. Only from cloth plate sales, Eli earns income Rp 80 million per month.
Success of the simple design of the product also occurs in the Magno wooden radio made by Singgih Susilo Kartono, 40 year old craftsman lived in Kandangan village, Temanggung, Central Java. Magno has long list of achievements since first market entrance in 2004. The latest was chosen as champion of Brit Insurance Designs of the Year in 2009 for product category. This annual event was held by Design Museum of London. One month earlier, Magno awarded the Design Plus Award in 2009, in Germany.
American market enthusiasm began a years ago. Singgih got order 10,000 units worth Rp 4.9 billion. Unfortunately, this order can not be immediately fulfilled. Because the production capacity of Magno who supported 30 employees, only about 150 units per month.
Therefore, Singgih said he could meet the request in one year. Now the production capacity in the studio Piranti Works, reach 300 units per month with 50 employees, all citizens Kandangan. Its turnover increased to Rp 750 million per month.
Father of two children started to design radio to as a final task to get bachelor degree from Design Products Department, Faculty of Visual Arts and Design Institute of Technology Bandung, in 1992. He chose the theme ''Radio Receiver Design using Indonesian Craft Technology".
Aruna Aruntala main products are wooden toys. Actually, he was interested in developing Magno which successfully got second winner International Design Resource Awards (IDRA) in 1997 in the United States. Unfortunately, he face two main constraints : lack of capital and market demand.
Magno design is simple, cute, and unique. This is in accordance with Singgih's principles to produce handicrafts using wood at least, but can generate as many jobs for the local community. He called this concept as: less wood more works, cut less plant more. He is sure, with quality of highly skilled craftsmen, it is possible to sell products with a good price and achieve market stability.
As a country blessed with rich biological resources and biodiversity, it is not easy for Indonesia to guard them from stolen by foreign nations. Evidently, many native cultures and products being recognized by other countries. Starts with batik, continued with tempe (meat substitute made from cooked soybeans), Toraja coffee, Gayo coffee, and Reog Ponorogo.
The product theft is carried out in accordance with the path of law, that is, register the product copyright to the WIPO, the UN agencies that handle intellectual property rights. Gap in the registration process allows the first parties who register become the copyright holder. So often, it negate the fact of the local cultural heritage.
Annexation like this could aggravate the business, because of the rejection for assumed similar product entering the international market. For example, it happen to the artificial crab chairs export made by Suhud a craftsman from Jepara, Central Java, which denied to enter China's market, in October 2008. The reason is a similar product already patented by Chinese local entrepreneur since 2002. So that Suhud's crab chair is not allowed to entry. In fact, Suhud already produce crab chair since 1990 and market it o China.
Many Indonesian craftsmen do not paying attention for patent, particularly the small scale business. The main reason is cost. Tricky bureaucracy is the next reason. Adding the extra cost will make their products more expensive, so it more difficult to compete with competitor products.
Head of the National Export Development Agency (BPEN), Bachrul Chairi, said that copyrights and patents are very crucial matter in the creative industries that have the main asset of ideas and innovation. Therefore, BPEN have helped 700 products of creative economy get patents from the Department of Trade and the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. BPEN also manage nine Indonesian craft's copyright registration to gain recognition from UNESCO's seal of excellence.
The government also continue the process of identifying Indonesian products that have not yet registered. This proactive step is done to prevent theft by other countries. In addition, copyright protection can trigger the development of creative entrepreneurs to create niche products with high-value sale.