Josephine Komara, known as Obin, is a nationally renowned batik designer whose cutting-edge prints that bind traditional and modern are now sold in some of the world’s most exclusive stores.

In Bali to showcase to the world important batiks from her private collection that were installed at The Westin Resort, where the UN Climate Change Conference was centered, the 52-year-old shared her day with The Bali Times’ Rian Dewanto

Normally I get up early in the morning, around 6 am. But it isn’t always like that. For example, if I am busy with work, like right now, when I have to personally oversee all the batik that is to be displayed for the UN Climate Change Conference. Then, I go to sleep at 6am, and wake up at 11am. I’ve not been sleeping properly for the last couple of days.

When I get up in the morning, I always drink a few glasses of water. From then on, it’s the same routine. I clean the house, tell my helpers to make breakfast, feed the dog, water the plants and so on. At 7am, I head for the beach. I love going to the beach in the morning. I take anyone who would like to accompany me to the beach – my husband, mother or even the driver. But I don’t mind going alone to the beach if I have to.

I always spend a couple of hours at the beach and then return home to work. I like working from home, unlike most people. They need to work from an office so that when they return home they can concentrate on home duties. But I am different. I love being with my family and at the same time creating my designs.

The first stage in my daily work is to check three aspects of the fabric – color, batik pattern and weave. Each attribute is unique and has its own special character. Despite the variations, my batik is designed from experience; the creation itself is not the work of a single person. A number of employees are involved in creating the end product.

When I see a beautiful flower, I attempt to translate the color and texture onto cloth. I decide the color, create the pattern and weave that would best represent what I want to depict. Then I ask people around me to give their comments as to whether the color looks dull or not, whether the pattern is boring or not, and so on. It’s a creative process in which everybody takes part.

I often spend hours working on the fabrics. But I never feel pressurized by the work. I don’t have production targets.

Sometimes when I am inundated with ideas, I work long hours to put the designs onto fabric. Other times I love chatting with my mother and employees. Reading is a favorite pastime. The last book I read was Stephen King’s Christine. I like this author and have a number of his books in my library. The most inspiring book for me, though, has been Siddhartha Gautama, by Herman Hesse.

When I’ve completed the batik designs, I take them to my artisans in the studio. There are over than 2,000 artisans working on fabrics at our company, Bin House. They are scattered in the studios in Cikarang (West Java), Cirebon (West Java) and Solo (Central Java). It’s important that I present the designs myself because every detail in the batik counts. From the artisans, I also receive comments and suggestions that always lead to perfection of the design process.

Batik is the signature of Indonesian cloth with a touch of our national culture. It has been preserved for generations. My aim is to continue this heritage as a living art; that’s why I have set up my studios in batik’s original birthplace, instead of centralizing all work in one area. I would prefer that batik is worn as everyday clothes instead of just being kept in a museum.

When I heard that there was going to be an important international event in Bali, I took the initiative to participate in order to introduce this art to the world – and the process for making batik is environment friendly. All batik products by Bin House are handmade. The production process does not even use electric power. I feel honored to have been able to participate in a small way in the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference.

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