IMG_4657Emir Hakim Brand Design Consultant is an independent consulting firm working for enterprises on their branding and identity. Established in 2005, EH is fortunate to be able to experience working with some of the best names in different industries. From small to large enterprises, from a single design publishing to a complete branding project.

In 2015 Emir Hakim got a chance to assist the Indonesian government in the project “Frankfurt Bookfair 2015” in which Indonesia is a Guest of Honour. Emir’s involvement in this renowned book fair is such a great opportunity for Indonesia’s graphic design industry. Let’s take a look! we have a lot of documentation photos from frankfurt!


Emir, how did you got involved in this project?

I approached the Ministry of Culture and Education back in 2013 to participate in this project, and there was an identity design developed by the previous commitee already. It was kind of hopeless because it was approved and signed by the previous minister, and for so many reason it seems impossible to even share my thought of changing the identity, after trying and reasoning for a few times, i kind of gave up on it, as my only mission is to change the identity for one good reason.

But in late 2014, I was approached by the new national committee to participate and continue the project. All my respect and gratitude to Goenawan Mohammad (Head of National Commitee) and Avianti Armand (Head of Design Commitee) for being very supportive, believing in me and making it into reality.

Tell us about the process of making the visual identity for Indonesia as the Guest of Honor for Frankfurt Book Fair?
The process was very challenging, we did a lot of studies and it needs one very good reason for a large commitee’s approval. More over I must say thumbs up for Mas Goen and Vivi for not only giving us the freedom to explore but also hand in hand giving valuable insights and developing the brand together as their commitment in delivering high quality work as one team.

Three things I learned from this experience:

1. Simplify
To communicate Indonesia’s rich, diverse heritage of culture, with unlimited insights and voices at the same time, I learned to put everything at its simplest perspective, less is more.

2. Listen
It takes a lot more effort to actually try to understand what other people say and their differences, but a lot less easier when you can understand how to speak to them with your heart. Understanding others works better than trying to make everyone understand me.

3. No Ego
The only fear working in a team full of big names and talents is when our ego is bigger than the work it self, one of the most unforgetable learning experience for me is that everyone in this team gives everything they had except their ego.

Is there any challenge or obstacle during the design process?
The diversity of Indonesia is a key insight; our biggest challenge is how to visualize this rich diversity without stating the obvious, but to trigger people’s imagination and understands what 17,000 islands of imagination is all about.

The next challenging part is designing an open system that is constantly changing and is composed of different layers of small elements within super tight datelines and wide range of artwork formats, but I’m very fortunate and proud to have a strong, talented and dedicated team, I must say thank you for my team work and effort from day one, Aditya and Eko our senior designers, Meilina our designer, Riri our project officer, salute to our interns Victor, Hendri, Ute, and of course…Edith our project coordinator, thanks for your eyes for details and iron hands, Zaky our collaborator..thanks for the typo play in our environmental graphics, and Andro our upcoming architect, thanks for the support!


What is the most fun part in designing the identity for Indonesia as guest of honour in Frankfurt Book Fair 2015?
We had a lot of fun with the idea of presenting Indonesia in a contemporary way that can relate to the modern world but still rooted to its culture and heritage. An image not only a country that is rich in its culture and resources but also rich in creativity, giving a new perspective and image that we are one of the global contender to be considered of in the creative economy sector.

It is not only fun but a true luxury having the opportunity to learn so much from different expertise and people at the same time. What most people are not aware is that Frankfurt Book Fair is not only the biggest trade show for books in the world, it is an integrated cultural exchange between the eastern and western culture, the door to economics development between the emerging and the developed countries, a stage for a country’s perfomance for the world through literature, arts, design and culinary, and of course it is always a lot of fun when we make new friends and family around the globe.

How has Indonesia and its culture affected this particular project?
Indonesia prides itself for its rich literary tradition, preserved in oral and written forms. But the best achievement in its contemporary history is the headway of the national language, the Indonesian language, as a modern medium of expression. Based on Malay, the language is unique in its political history. Since previous centuries, it has been adopted, albeit inconsistently, as a lingua franca by the Patanis in South Thailand, people of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Southern part of the Philippines and Timor Leste.

In other words, the national language is not an infixed legacy of colonialism — Dutch colonialism that is. In fact, it was the language of nationalist movements and of the Revolution. Neither it is an expanded medium of communication generated by a majority culture. In fact, the so-called “non-indigenous” minorities, the ethnic Chinese, led the beginning of Indonesian print-capitalism that spread the use of the language among others. In addition to that, Indonesian has never had an established center of excellence preserved by a ruling class. The attempt to create a hierarchical standardization has never been a success.

In short, it is a democratic language par excellence, created by different paroles.

I realized that we as Indonesians are very fortunate to have an unfiying language that gives freedom and unity to one of the most diversed culture country in the world. We have more than 742 different living language and dialects spoken today, more than 300 different tribes, 34 provinces spread in 7 main islands out of 17.000 islands, and 17 years before Indonesia has its Independence day, our predecessor agreed to have 1 language, Bahasa Indonesia. It is a luxury for a big nation or any big nation to have a unifying language. One international journalist told me “Imagine there’s no Bahasa Indonesia, what happens when you must communicate a change of schedule in 742 different languages in the airport today?”

History told that we always manage to weaved differences and diversity into one form of unity, the basic design concept is there already, we just need to look deeper into our roots and make the best out of what we have, interpret and present it in a contemporary way that can relate to world today.

How is the role of ADGI in helping you working on this project?
ADGI HUB (An ADGI business and network hub division) helped us in opening up the network with the Ministry of Education and Culture as well as connecting us with professional talents within ADGI members.

A huge international scale project like this needs a dedicated and experienced team, and with the help of ADGI, we manage to find collaborators within ADGI members to set up a dedicated team to help us on the project. Thanks to Ampersand Studio for their support in designing a wide range set of collaterals in super tight datelines and Swargaloka for their sleepless nights in designing the web and animated motion graphics.

What do you feel about Indonesia being chosen as the Guest of Honor for Frankfurt Book Fair?
I see a new rising Indonesia, a proud one. Finland (previous guest of honour country) waited 26 years to received their opportunity. We only waited 5 years. This is a one in a lifetime opportunity to put Indonesia in the Global Map as a strong contender. There are more than 200 countries within the Guest of Honour application, meaning the waiting list to be guest of honour again is after 200 countries.

There’s a few reason why we are granted to be the guest of honour in 2015:
Since 2011 our government have spend more than 30% on education sector.
Indonesia’s has very high basic literacy, 93%. In contrary our interest in reading books is very low, 0.1%. (Data from Unesco 2012 research)
250 million people with more than 90% basic literacy ability, a huge potential market for the publishing industry.

The future is here, the world sees it, so should we.

You went to Frankfurt to work on installing the project as well, can you share your experience there?
The 17.000 islands of imagination is represented by 7 main islands in 2500m2 Frankfurt Buchmesse main pavilion. Each islands represents different books and content, Island of Words is the largest one where we showcase most of the literary books, fictions and non-fictions; Island of Scene is where the dances, music performances, book discussions and poetry reading takes place; Spice Island is where visitor can experience our culinary and spices; Island of Tales is the children books section; Island of illuminations is where all the old manuscripts exhibited; Island of Inquiry is all about digital content; and Island of Images is where Indonesian comics is showcased.

The 7 main islands is made out of 297 large size lanterns with different graphics, about 1km LED Linear RGB, 300 spotlight with 18000 DMX channel illuminating each lanterns, more than 800 books on Indonesian and art books from Indonesia individually displayed, around 70 different spices installed manually, and hundreds of spots in 6 cities in germany where our posters is displayed, and It took us 5 days to install the whole pavilion, but numbers is not what we are made of, it is imagination in the making.
The best learning experience comes from the amazing talents in our dream team, everyone in this team gives everything they had except their ego.

Thanks to our lead Architect M.Thamrin for his ideas using more than 200 set pieces large size lanterns printed with different graphics as the basic foundation of the islands and above all his patience, Abdi Hasan our lighting designer for illuminating the islands with his brilliant touch, Adi Panuntun our Multimedia video mapping for adding life into the pavilion, they are truly one of indonesia’s best talents, it is an honoured to share the same creative spirit. And thanks to our local german contractor Uniplan for the precision and turning our imaginations into reality.










How is the response of the people there about Indonesia in general and about the design that your team created specifically?
It came to a great surprise for most people how it triggers their imaginations about Indonesia. The response was beyond our imaginations.

From the Book Fair data about 663 inquiries on our books and author rights, 254 of them is interested in buying the rights for 413 titles ranging from children’s book, literature pieces, academic books, biography, religious, social politics, environmental, architecture, travel, hobby, culinary books, comics and education software, a high record on the Guest of honor’s achievement in trade results.

Not only it opens up a lot of doors of imagination, it also ignite the dialogue between two very different cultures, and the dialogue continues to grow stronger with the follow up programs this year.

What is the next big thing from you?
• Together with Bekraf, creating the brand for Indonesia Creative Incorporated, the ultimate showcase of Indonesia’s creative economy.
• Together with Adgi, develop and directing ‘My Indonesia’, a collaborative exhibition about Indonesian design identity at Frankfurt Museum of Applied Arts.
• As Adgi’s Business Development Director, we are going to create the 1st comprehensive Design Week.
• Re-branding ‘Istana Merdeka’, Indonesia’s presidential palace.

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Photos by: Emir Hakim Brand Design Consultant