Designing Spaces with Sustainable Practices with .this/PLAY

Spatial design, exhibitions, production, and stages, to the handling of artworks or art handling, are the areas of design deeply explored by .this/PLAY, a Jakarta-based studio established in 2015. It's no wonder that every year, the name .this/PLAY is prominently displayed in various art exhibitions and prestigious music festivals. The touch of .this/PLAY's hand has consistently elevated spatial awareness and the experience of enjoying artworks for visitors from diverse backgrounds. Not only that, but .this/PLAY's design practice also considers social and environmental impacts by supporting sustainable design. Getting to know this studio and its design practices more intimately, Grafis Masa Kini had a conversation with Sigit D Pratama, the founder of .this/PLAY.

Looking back to when .this/PLAY first emerged, Sigit initially worked as a photographer frequently exhibiting his work. His days in exhibition spaces made Sigit realize that there were many aspects needing improvement in the exhibition systems and practices in Indonesia, such as standards of tidiness, artwork dimensions, and lighting direction. Sigit's concerns laid the groundwork for the formation of .this/PLAY. "Then, .this/PLAY was born because of the temporary museum Rekoleksi Memori by the Jakarta Arts Council at Taman Ismail Marzuki. The venue and technical setup were unusual, so I felt challenged to bring a gallery atmosphere to an outdoor space with non-permanent walls. I learned a lot from that exhibition," Sigit reminisced. Sigit's frustration with exhibitions that didn't meet the standards and guidelines, both in terms of space and how artworks were presented, became the driving force behind the spatial and artwork design practices that .this/PLAY continues to undertake. Moreover, Sigit also believes that exhibitions should provide a unique experience for anyone in the space. "An exhibition should be more appealing, visually pleasing, and build an experience; it should represent the exhibited artworks, and lighting should contribute significantly to the exhibition atmosphere—not just 'astrada' (arbitrary brightness, image present)."

Initially, .this/PLAY solely focused on art handling—practicing proper artwork arrangement techniques, appropriate lighting, and measuring all surfaces and artworks according to existing standards. Over time, .this/PLAY, which started with three individuals, has evolved into a team of 30 in-house employees with three main sectors: designers, art handlers, and art builders. Instead of forgetting their mission as the studio grew, .this/PLAY always returns to their roots, which is to consider social impact, by opening up broader opportunities and going beyond the typical studio recruitment system. Sigit's experience as a volunteer teacher in several art studios such as Sanggar Anak Akar, Sanggar Anak Harapan, and a few others, prompted him to provide opportunities for street children to be trained in art handling skills and become part of the .this/PLAY team.


When asked about how .this/PLAY presents artworks in unconventional and different ways, Sigit emphasized that it is not their main focus, but rather how artworks can be presented correctly and in harmony with the intended message. "For example, a noisy video or multimedia artwork would seem very odd if juxtaposed with a tranquil painting that requires serenity for reflection unless the video and painting intersect. In execution, we first adjust the proportions of the space, then we think about how the space can showcase each artwork from various angles," he explained. .this/PLAY's challenging ideas about conventional artwork presentation emerged after studying the shortcomings and potential improvements of the exhibitions they visited, such as flow, curatorial text font size, lighting, and artwork arrangement. "Well, after marking these issues, we were finally able to reach conclusions that we could implement for the exhibition designs we will undertake in the future, and from there we will think about fixtures and ways to display artworks. We're really tired of those plain white walls; at the most basic level, we always strive to create texture on the base that will be used to display artworks because after all, the closest thing to an artwork is its base," Sigit clarified. Additionally, .this/PLAY consistently explores new materials and forms. "We consider music festivals or exhibitions we develop as our own artwork. So, we want to have something different in terms of material, shape, and function, with the hope of providing an appropriate and unique experience to the audience."

Whether in designing individual artwork presentations or collective exhibition spaces such as Art Jakarta and Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design (ICAD), .this/PLAY carefully considers how design can align with artists' concepts. This, of course, presents its own challenges, considering that every artist has their own ideals about their work. Sigit explained that in their practice, .this/PLAY has crucial guidelines. "The first is sustainable materials: minimizing unprocessed plastic as much as possible. The second, equally important, is safety. So, when the ideas from the artwork or artist conflict with points one and two, we will argue, clearly. Nevertheless, we will try to find a middle ground to still accommodate the artist." As fellow creators, .this/PLAY understands the feeling of displeasure when artwork is "diminished" by technicalities. Therefore, for Sigit and the team, the artist's concept remains the most fundamental aspect to be realized when these two crucial guidelines have been fulfilled. When designing exhibition spaces as a whole, Sigit and the team's first step is to analyze the space and elements of the location to achieve harmony. "We also prioritize those two crucial points. From the analysis results, then we start analyzing artworks and curating suitable corners for the artworks."

Unlike designing exhibition spaces, when designing open spaces for music festivals like Joyland, .this/PLAY applies the formula of 3S: sense, structure, and safety. According to Sigit's explanation, the sense is a crucial foundation because, in music festivals, it's not just about auditory perception but also visual and tactile sensations. Experience is the focus that underpins .this/PLAY's design when creating festival areas in open spaces, from ticket booths to exits, each serving different functions. Reflecting on the design process for the Joyland music festival, armed with key visuals (KV) from the creative director, .this/PLAY, along with Plainsong Live, dissected the spatial design of the festival's programs: family programs at White Peacock, adult-specific areas at 21 Monkeys, newcomers/breakthrough bands at Lily Pad, stand-up comedy at Shrooms Garden, and main performances at Plainsong Live Stage and Joyland Stage. Furthermore, .this/PLAY translated the atmosphere and experience desired for each program into spatial design.

"Why do the structural shapes at Joyland seem peculiar?" Sigit quoted a question from the public. "In Jakarta, it's clear that grassy areas are a privilege that we can fully enjoy. So, when it comes to Joyland, we always adhere to having grassy areas, for us, that's one of the checkboxes that are fulfilled. Our way to enhance the feeling of playing in the grass then becomes the essence of the space we create at Joyland." Unlike Jakarta, in Joyland Bali, .this/PLAY enhances the experience of attending a music festival by the beach by creating structures that harmonize with nature, such as windmill-shaped totems. "Well, those vibes need to be maintained from the entrance to the exit," Sigit expressed. In terms of safety, Sigit can assure that the .this/PLAY team has meticulously considered it. "Safety may not be visible to the eye, but we can assure you that you’re safe." So far, Sigit said, there have been no complaints regarding safety in spatial designs for open-air music festivals like Joyland. This proves that the three crucial foundations in designing spaces have been adhered to and successfully implemented by .this/PLAY.


When looking at .this/PLAY's designs in music festivals or exhibitions, one will be impressed by the use of recycled materials. According to Sigit, when talking about materials, one cannot separate the decision to apply sustainable practices. "Material selection is crucial and impactful, and sometimes honestly cumbersome. However, for us, there's a sense of joy when we know we can use sustainable materials," Sigit said. Bamboo, rattan, water hyacinth, coconut leaves, banana leaves, plant roots, vines, and wood are natural materials that have made .this/PLAY fall in love with the dynamic effects they can bring to designs. Choosing environmentally friendly materials is often seen as challenging and limiting ideas. However, .this/PLAY thinks otherwise: "It's limitless," Sigit emphasized. "Regardless of the amount of plastic used by humans today, even more waste accumulates over time, becoming increasingly difficult to process; from generation to generation, this waste continues to pile up. One approach to materials is to use reusable materials, those that can be upcycled, or those that are easily biodegradable. So, the use of raw and natural materials that we use as a basis for designing is still in a responsible stage," Sigit further explained. Implementing sustainable practices also broadens .this/PLAY's insights into the potential of existing materials. "(Without focusing on sustainability) we might just focus on striking visuals that have no essence; there's no subliminal message for the space because we're only focused on trendy visual supporting materials." Sigit also added that sustainability awareness prompts .this/PLAY to search for new material potentials. "For example, processed bamboo can be like stainless steel, a biomaterial that can be a base or an alternative fabric—this is very exciting for us! Because imagine something unimaginable becoming a structure, or flooring, or ceiling, and now it's right in front of us." Sigit described the feeling of discovering new materials like the joy of a child receiving a new toy from their parents.

The consistency of .this/PLAY in designing spaces with sustainable practices undoubtedly proves that we all can realize environmentally friendly designs for everyday spaces. Therefore, there is a strong desire in Sigit and the team to intervene in commercial spaces with something unconventional yet environmentally friendly. Moreover, moving forward, .this/PLAY aims to establish a more professional presentation and spatial design industry, adhering to standards and delivering the best design outcomes. "We want people to feel that what we create is of fine finishing; quality is what we aim to uphold in the future." Closing the conversation, Sigit shared .this/PLAY's grand aspiration, which is to create exhibitions that are well-executed and safe for everyone from all walks of life. "Looking ahead, we hope that exhibitions in Indonesia become something anticipated because they are engaging in terms of experience, visual, and sensory aspects; we want exhibitions that are of high-quality build, and workers in this industry or ecosystem can work healthily—that's the goal we aim to achieve," Sigit concluded.

About the Author

Alessandra Langit

Alessandra Langit is a writer with seven years of diverse media experience. She loves exploring the quirks of girlhood through her visual art and reposting Kafka’s diary entries at night.