Thursday, April 13, 2006

There is no doubt of a common lack of respect for copyrights in Indonesia. This problem not only affects most frequent victims such as music or movie industries, which is the most noticeable if you just happen to visit Mangadua or ITC near Mal Ambassador. Several other business areas while less noticeable are also heavily affected by copyright piracy.

One of such areas is architecture, which cause a very big problem in Indonesia resulting in serious employment problems among Indonesian architects. I myself know several locals holding architecture degree (few of them even from prestigious overseas Universities) and unfortunately none of them makes their living out of architecture. In my home country Poland, being an architect is one of the most profitable professions that guarantee a very high income, while here being an architect in Indonesia is almost none profitable. This was very surprising to me, thus I tried to understand why and I got pretty clear answer from one of the local architects. He explained that it very often happens that that he designs a house or office for a client, make as real great design that he is even proud of and after presenting this design to client, the client just takes the plans and drawings and ask some student or fresh graduate to change few elements. Sometime later he can see his design as read house with few changed windows. This actually happened so often, that it maid him seriously stressed, gave him so much disappointment that he decided to give up architecture and pursue his career in trade.

I think this partially explains why architecture in Indonesia is so ugly. Some may think this is about money, but surprisingly even in the extremely rich villa areas, there are number of houses featuring extremely ugly architecture with classic stylised plastic statue in front symbolising lots of money and lack of basic taste of the owner o the house.

If you do search on Google with "famous Indonesian architect", you will find around 30 links only and all talking about one person. In fact, the most famous architect linked to Indonesia is not even Indonesian. I’m talking about Made Wijaya, Australian who started his career in Indonesia as tourist guide, photo journalist and even tennis teacher and who later became well recognised garden designer. If you happen to visit Bali Hyatt, you won’t be surprised why, as Bali Hyatt’s garden designed by Made Wijaya is simply a masterpiece, a truly amazing garden full of tropical animals who are its natural habitants (Note: Although, I love the Bali Hyatt garden, I seriously dislike the hotel after serious troubles with their service).

It seems the foreign hotels are probably the only places where you can make a living out of architecture in Indonesia. Meanwhile, local architects due to lack of respect for their creation will simply continue to copy & paste foreign designs as why they should care to be creative as nobody will pay them for that anyway.

This apparently also happens in other fields such as graphics design. One of the most appalling examples of obvious copy & paste graphics work was the design of “ASCO Automotive” logo which looks incredibly close to well known software company called “SCO”. Compare it yourself:

Smart huh? You just search "A SCO logo" on Google Images, take first logo from the list, remove the tree, add "A", change the colour and PROFIT. Now it just makes me wonder how much they got paid for that. What is in fact shocking is that "ASCO" is not a small "toko", but a pretty big company linked to ADIRA, which makes it even more disturbing.

I just wonder what ASCO Automotive is aware that "SCO" is well known for it's copyright infringement lawsuit against major companies using Linux, and spending lots of money on their lawyers. I wonder what SCO will do when they find out. I think ASCO Automotive should better start saving money for the lawsuit.


Bali has talented architects that I should have also mentioned here. As pointed out by Made Wijaya in his e-mail, I should definitely mention the following architects:

Popo Danes, honoured with the ‘Indonesian Institute of Architect’ award for his efforts in promoting contemporary Balinese architecture in its proper way, awarded Indonesian Construction Award in 2003 as well as 2004 ASEAN Energy Award Efficient Building Tropical Building Category (Natura Resort & Spa project); Yoka Sara (designed the palatial Kama Sutra, the Waka Gangga resort in Tabanan, both in Bali, plus a deluxe resort in Bentong Pahang and a private home in Kuala Lumpur, both in Malaysia, amongst portfolio of more than 100 successful projects!); Gusti Sarjana (Villa Kirana project).

Also, as pointed out by Made Wijaya, having a small claims court to protect architects from corrupt clients, developers and contractors would improve the situation. I'll consult this with lawyers and try to post here a simple copyright protectiong guideline for architects and other professions.

You can also find lots of interesting information on Made's web-site.


Maya said...

That's how I heard about China/chinese in Europe about not respecting any patents/intellectual properties...they copy everything...with 1.3 billion people, someone can always find millions people to produce everything :-) Everyone is 'scared' of the coming of China in world market...

What a shame! in Indonesia...thanks for clearifying issues even more, I feel 'hopeless' often thinking about my own country, but since I don't live there is much less chaotic :-) Wish for better changes there...

somebali said...

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Anonymous said...

I am completely agree with your statement. I also run a company in design interior and furniture. Some clients think that design is something that can be copied. that's why, I never give the hard or soft copy for presentation.

Currently I also run a lawfirm with my wife, a lawyer. I would like to discuss this things seriously with architects and designers who are concern with this problem. I want to discuss a draft of protection right for designs. It should be under one solid association and represented by one lawfirm that understand and know how to filed lawsuit for intellectual rights. Interested to work this draft with me? I can be reached at

Thanks, Pram

Susi Johnston said...

This is a very insightful post! It is so true, and helps people understand why the built environment in Bali is starting to look so hellishly ugly.

No money in architecture, no good architecture.

No money in teaching, no good education.

No money in design, no good designs . . . and without good design, products made by the Balinese can only compete on the level of commodities, generally on price. And the quality of goods produced declines, as do incomes.

This last point is crucial. It needs to be understood by all of the Balinese craftspeople and entrepreneurs who are foolishly protesting against the Tangan Karya Indah (John Hardy) intellectual property case, which has been so prominent in the news.

David said...

It's true that piracy in Indonesia are just so acute and it is most likely that it will never be solved forever. People are just don't care about other people's hard work on something and the government also is not really serious in taking this into account, and the result is piracy is all around Indonesia.

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