Batik Fractal is the fashion and accessories brand under a social enterprise, Piksel Indonesia, a nine-year-old technology enterprise dedicated to preserving the countryâ€™s tradition of batik textile art. An Indonesian-based technology startup is serving the Vancouver fashion market while making scientific strides in its home country of Indonesia.
The seven-person company, Piksel has developed JBatik, a computer program that uses mathematical algorithms to create patterns for textile design that allows artisans to preserve their historic art form while gaining experience in technology.
Using the program, Indonesia-based designers develop patterns, hire artisans to translate the designs on fabric using the manual art form of batik and ship the finished textiles to fashion designers abroad.
Fashion hubs currently benefiting from the Batik Fractal label include Sydney, Los Angeles and Vancouver.
Piksel Indonesia/Batik Fractal CEO Nancy Margried said that they found there was a link with mathematical formulas and batik. In terms of patterns, they see there is a mathematical property in it.
In 2007, Margried, along with her co-founders Muhammad â€œLukiâ€ Lukman and Yun Hariadi, produced research to prove their hypothesis that batik art could be done using mathematical sequences through the use of technology.
By 2009, Indonesian batik earned a spot on the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Batik Fractal tapped into the importance the Indonesian government placed on preserving the cultural heritage and scooped up public funds to train and educate underserved communities in Bandung.
Vancouver-based designer Bayoush Mangesha, founder of the non-profit fashion organization Devi Arts Collective, uses Batik Fractal textiles and champions the empowerment of women through their art.
She said that most of the artisans she works with are female and paying fair wages is a Devi Arts Collective requirement. Traditionally, batik is a very delicate skill .so they decided to apply this technology to women workers, to women batik artisans, because thatâ€™s the centre of the skill.
Another factor in involving women in the program was the lack of education opportunities available to them in the Bandung slum where Batik Fractalâ€™s first workshop was set up.
According to Margried, only 30% of those signed up for the JBatik program training were women, but women usually had a higher success rate with the program. That 30% of women echoes UNESCO statistics on Indonesians involved in science, technology and innovation research.
Locally, Batik Fractal designs can be found at the University of British Columbiaâ€™s Museum of Anthropology and at pop-up markets where Vancouver-based designers from Devi Arts Collective show their textile creations.
Piksel Indonesia reports annual revenue of roughly $50,000. The company employs six independent freelance contractors, including workshop owners, leather-makers and tailors.
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