Exploring Various Design Discourses with Terra Incognita

The pandemic period brought Aulia Akbar, also known by the pseudonym Spacelessmind, to ask questions around the work practices of graphic designers. He reflects on design and economic goals, on the relationship between design practice and current conditions, and on the discourse around solving solutions through design. Through these three big questions, Aulia sat down with 19 creative practitioners to discuss 13 topics and their views on these questions based on the actors' practices.

The practitioners interviewed by Aulia were not limited to local practitioners, but included those from Malaysia, Japan and Taiwan. Those involved were Abdurrahman Hanif, Helen C.H. Ting, Idhar Resmadi, Theo Gennardy, Mikiharu Yabe, Thufeil Gumilar, Prananda L. Malasan, Bram Patria Yoshugi & Ira Cerella, Iqbal Firdaus & Eugenius Krisna, Falah Naim, Diaz Hensuk & Danny Wicaksono, Ardo Ardhana, and Roda Nona.

Under the title Terra Incognita, Aulia defines this publication as a collective writing project-design initiative that tries to accommodate voices regarding the what, why, and how of things that shape a designer or creative practitioner as well as challenges in reality written in an informal interview format to offer an alternative view. Acting as director and initiator, Aulia's initiative project was carried out collectively with Asrul Adam Pasai, Mochamad Fakhri A., Rika Fitriani, Bramantyo Yudha P., Yanuar Banu H., Tisa Wiriaatmadja, Luky Wiranda, Alka Maula, Ratu Hansza Syafia, Risang Ayu, Rakasiwa Pradeliana, and Astri Apriyani.


The 13 interviews presented in Terra Incognita present a variety of conversations, from big discussions about design in Indonesia and literacy in the design field, to specific matters, such as typography. In the midst of the heavy and contemplative discussions presented, Terra Incognita feels quite casual, considering that the writing in this publication is a transcript of Aulia's interviews with the practitioners. Reading Terra Incognita feels like being present in the middle of a conversation between Aulia and his sources. With a critical attitude, Aulia asked questions that could explore the sources' perspectives on the issues being discussed.

In terms of design, as a writer and book designer, Aulia stated, "Because this is an anthology, each person I interviewed has their own chapter because the topics are different. But, I put it all together in one editorial. "That's why we have a common thread, namely the pixelated [photos of each source]." This approach is a representation of the "uncertainty" of design activities discussed in this book. He added, “The format [of the book] is an A5-sized soft cover. Not hardcover. So, it can be fully opened. Then the binding uses closed Swiss binding so it can be open flat. It can be read anywhere.”

This publication was produced by Aulia together with Thinking*Room. In order to get around the complexity of production matters, Aulia conducted an assessment of potential partners in this project. He saw that Thinking*Room had important points as a co producer of this project, one of which was experience in making publications. This project also received support from Harapan Prima and Fedrigoni Indonesia. Currently, Aulia is carrying out a series of promotional programs and introductions to Terra Incognita in several cities including Bandung on January 12-21 and will then visit Cirebon. Terra Incognita is an oasis in the midst of the small number of creative practitioners, especially graphic designers, who write and are critical of the practice of their profession—outside of conversations that revolve around technique.

About the Author

Daud Sihombing

Daud Sihombing has been writing professionally for the past 9 years. This fervent alternative publishing enthusiast prefers his quaint little town over the hustle and bustle of the city and doesn't let sleep stop him from watching every single AS Roma match.