How the ‘What if Lab project’ boosted Darina’s career

"I am grateful to work on sustainable development in Indonesia together with the Netherlands. Having my 'first job abroad’ in a Dutch ecosystem allows me to learn the efficient-but-empathetic Dutch work ethics which helps me in my career path.”

Darina was one of the Indonesian designers who was selected to participate in the What if Lab project, organized by the Dutch Design Foundation, DutchCulture and the Netherlands Embassy. This project challenged Dutch and Indonesian designers with the question: What if we could design our sustainable society together?

Read in this interview how the project boosted Darina’s career.

Can you explain your role in the project?
I conducted a design research in the field of sustainable education, together with Mitchell Jacobs from Studio Tast in the Netherlands. Together, we created a research at elementary schools both in the Netherlands and Indonesia to explore how we as designers can make the school system more sustainable. The outcome and developed instruments were exhibited in the Erasmus Huis.

After the exhibition in Erasmus Huis, I also helped to establish the “What if Lab: The Sustainable Society” exhibition in Bandung Design Biennale in Bandung in 2019. A cooperation between designers and engineers from Institute Technology of Bandung together with students from AVANS university and TU Eindhoven in the Netherlands, made this successful. 

What did you learn during the project?
During my collaboration with Dutch designers, I learned that a multidisciplinary approach is essential if you want to achieve sustainable development goals. I also learned that as a designer, problem-solving should always consider empathy and humanity, and at the same time the challenge is to keep the quality of design top-notch! To be thorough, precise, efficient, and to have clear communication are the ethics I picked up.

How did the project help you forward?
The friendships established from the program mean a lot to me since I was still a freshman in my master degree. The connections I made during this program really helped me forward in my decision making process for my future career path. I remember telling myself after the program ended that I wanted to be a multi-disciplinary system designer because of them!

One year after the program ended, I was building a sustainable material company with my friend. Then, Mitchell, my partner from What if Lab, introduced me to someone from a Dutch company. I met several people and got inspired by Enviu, a sustainable start-up based in Rotterdam that just opened its branch in Indonesia with a project called “Zero Waste Living Lab”. They asked me  to build a circular venture for reducing single-use plastic through refill vending technology. I am grateful to work on sustainable development in Indonesia together with the Netherlands.

What would you like to share with other people about your experience?
To be included in the project was a big honor for me as it allowed me to meet a lot of people who inspired me to become a beneficial being, and as for me, to become an agile designer, who strives to find solutions in the sustainable field. Having “my first job abroad” in a Dutch ecosystem allows me to learn the efficient-but-empathetic Dutch work ethics which helps me in my career path.