Luck to the Community © Sarah Colson

Those who are familiar with Indonesia will know that Jakarta is the capital. They might not know, however, that Bandung - a city of leading universities and independent designers - is home to Indonesia’s cultural and creative industries.

Many of the city’s cultural initiatives are spearheaded by Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF), an organisation founded by current Bandung Mayor, Ridwan Kamil - a Young Creative Entrepreneur winner back in 2006.

BCCF focuses on creativity, education, community and the city through a range of programmes. One such programme is their annual design thinking conference DesignAction.BDG (DA.bdg), which has just taken place for the second year running. This year, British Council Indonesia partnered with BCCF and DA.Bdg to create a residency programme for a British designer specialising in social-design, allowing them to live, work and collaborate with Bandung citizens.

Following the theme DA.Bdg: “Identity in the City”, the residency focused on the Pulosari neighbourhood and Rumah Cemara community. Hidden beneath one of the major highways, Pulosari is a self-built community and an appealing site to a social designer as the area has witnessed violence, poverty and drug abuse for a number of years.

For the residency, BCCF and British Council sought a UK designer who could collaborate with local communities in creating a creative project with a focus on identity. We decided to choose Sarah Colson.

Sarah’s application stood out for its approach to community collaboration, and her proposal for the residency to build stories through space, place and cultural identity - very relevant in the context of Pulosari and to the DA.bdg programme generally.

We were confident in Sarah’s past work and her proposal, but we were truly mind-blown at what she achieved in the short span of her residency – interacting with hundreds of people, creating three different projects and lining up potential connections. 

Four weeks is a short time to dive into a new community and make an impact, but an awkward and overwhelming first week pushed Sarah into overdrive. Sarah became an impromptu speaker at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) SMEs Clinic event and at PDF Discussions. She also collaborated with Bandung artist Panca Dwinandhika in both Pulosari and at Rumah Cemara, a local organisation setup for the welfare of ex-drug addicts and HIV/AIDS carriers. Working closely with Rumah Cemara, Sarah organised The Meal #4: No Stigma, a gathering where guests cook together and discuss issues around stigma of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. 

The culmination of Sarah’s residency was a birdcage installation titled “Luck to the Community” and a film, VideoMapping Happiness in Pulosari, created in collaboration with students. The launch and screening was attended by almost EVERYBODY in Pulosari, layar tancap (outdoor cinema)-style.

As for the Residency, the pilot proved to make an impact not only on Bandung communities, but also on the artist herself. Although Sarah has returned to London, we don’t think this will be the last of her Bandung visits. Sarah has also been looking into manufacturing some of her commercial products (Fibula Lux – a lighting collection that has been receiving much success) in Bandung. If successful, Sarah will be able to return to develop more social design projects in Bandung. 



Sarah has worked around the world using a process of communication to navigate her way through objects and has created a diverse range of projects which invite the audience to experience her different interpretations of space. Sarah has also worked with communities in Brazil on the transformation of a communal living space through the power of colour. Sarah graduated from UWE Bristol in Interdisciplinary Textile Design. Following time in France she completed her MA in Design Products at the Royal College of Art in 2011.


In September 2014, British Council and Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF) invited proposals from UK based designers and artists to take part in a residency to collaborate on a project with a creative community in Bandung, Indonesia. Sarah Colson was selected as the designer in residence to develop her project building stories through space, place and cultural identity with the creative communities in Pulosari and Rumah Cemara, Bandung


BCCF is a hub for creative communities in bandung that has grown over the years as an independent organisation. In each activity that it promotes, BCCF uses a creativity-based approach concurrently with the city’s infrastructure planning and improvement as one of the main factors in expanding creative economic values. BCCF has also participated in initiating and expanding brand strategy and network development, helping to promote Bandung as a creative city internationally.  

ABOUT DesignAction.BDG

DA.BDG, a sub hub of BCCF, has a mandate to promote a public engagement with design by supporting the research, creation, exhibition and proliferation of critically challenging, conceptually informed, and forward looking work. DA.BDG’s designer in residence programme invites a practitioner to live and work for one month at a community development area in northern Bandung. A designer is sought to create a project/ intervention/ installation/ solution which can be developed as a long-term and continuous activity to improve the neighbourhood for the local community. This residency is, therefore, ideal for a designer who’s practices contain research-based, offsite, or socially-engaging elements. 

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