Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bamboo as Bamboo

Bamboo as Bamboo
A brief introduction of bamboo as bamboo, Indonesian bamboo and bamboo in design context.

Prepared by Widianto Utomo, designer
Indonesia- China, (c)2003.

Bamboo as Bamboo.
Bamboo is a grasses family. As its origin, bamboo beside as food sources (its tiny bamboo shoots) also can be used for many purposes.
It is the giant of all grasses and one of the fastest-growing plants.
Bamboo grows mostly in Asia (tropical -subtropical) and in warm places such as Central America and parts of South America.
Its stem due to its hardness is very often being used for construction and furniture material. This character is formed from the mineral silica that absorbed from the soil stored in the hollow and the jointed stem while bamboo grows.

1.Bamboo in daily lives.
1.1 Stem
-construction material (poles, wall-woven bamboo, roofing structure), especially in tropical architecture.
-musical instrument
-furniture (chair, bench, lighting, table)
-cooking utensil
-tools (cutlery, and other domestic use tools).
-as writing device, function as paper
-fish catcher (usually in the small river).
-shelter (e.g. sea housing for the temporary housing for the sailor in some region in Asia for instance in Indonesia and Malaysia).
-energy source (fuel)
-food container
-animal traps
-toys, for instance kite

1.2 Leaf
-food wrapper
-cattle food
-decorative material
-energy source (fuel)

1.3 Shoots

2. Indonesian Bamboo.
2.1 Types of Indonesian bamboos (in local name)

Bambu ampel (Indonesia) -> Bambusa vulgaris Schrad.
Bambu apus (Indonesia) -> Gigantochloa apus
Bambu ater (Indonesia) -> Gigantochloa atter
Bambu batu (Indonesia) -> Dendrocalamus strictus
Bambu betung (Indonesia) -> Dendrocalamus asper
Bambu betung hitam (Indonesia) -> Gigantochloa atroviolacea
Bambu blenduk (Indonesia) -> Bambusa tuldoides
Bambu blenduk (Indonesia) -> Bambusa wamin

Bambu buta (Lampung) -> Schizostachyum caudatum
Bambu cina -> Bambusa multiplex
Bambu duri -> Bambusa arundinacea
Bambu duri -> Bambusa spinosa
Bambu duri kecil (Java, Indonesia) -> Bambusa sinospinosa
Bambu embong (Java, Indonesia) -> Bambusa horsfieldii
Bambu eul-eul (Java, Indonesia) -> Nastus elegantissimus
Bambu gombong (Indonesia) -> Gigantochloa pseudoarundinacea
Bambu hitam -> Phyllostachys nigra
Bambu hitam (Java, Indonesia) -> Gigantochloa ate
>Bambu hitam> mostly used in furniture and building construction
Bambu jalur (Indonesia) -> Schizostachyum longispiculatum var. zollingeri
Bambu jepang -> Thyrsostachys siamensis > used as decorative plant
Bambu kuning (Indonesia) -> Phyllostachys aurea
Bambu kuning (Indonesia) -> Phyllostachys bambusoides
Bambu kuning (Indonesia) -> Bambusa vulgaris
>Bambu kuning> most commonly use bamboo in daily life, for instance pole, cutlery, cooking utensil, shelter (wall, poles, and roofing), traditional ritual, food container, musical instruments, furniture
Bambu lampar (East-Java) -> Schizostachyum zollingeri
Bambu legi (Indonesia) -> Gigantochloa atter
Bambu lengka -> Gigantochloa nigrociliata
Bambu lengka tali -> Gigantochloa hasskarliana
Bambu manggong -> Gigantochloa manggong
Bambu nitu -> Bambusa amahussana
Bambu pagar (Indonesia) -> Bambusa multiplex
Bambu peting
Bambu santong (Indonesia) -> Gigantochloa atter

Bambu sembilang (Indonesia) -> Dendrocalamus giganteus
Bambu siam (Indonesia) -> Thyrsostachys siamensis
Bambu Taiwan (Indonesia) -> Dendrocalamus latiflorus
Bambu tali -> Gigantochloa apus
Bambu tamiyang -> Schizostachyum irratun
Bambu taris (Brunei, Sabah) -> Gigantochloa balui
Bambu toi (Indonesia) -> Schizostachyum lima
Bambu tutul (Indonesia) -> Bambusa vulgaris
>Bambu tutul> mostly use for furniture due to its character and decorative surface
Bambu ulet (Java, Indonesia) -> Gigantochloa kurzii
Bambu wulu (Java, Indonesia) -> Melocanna humilis

2.2. Bamboo in Indonesian Custom and Cultural Heritage
-musical instrument, especially Angklung (originally known from West Java region) is shake and hit musical instrument, it works as a result of combination between hitting instrument and wind instrument. It plays in-group to characteristic of the bamboo itself that always grows in-group.

-traditional housing material for instance traditional Balinese housing, where the poles, the wall -made from the woven bamboo sheet, and the roofing structure made from bamboo, and as basic villager housing that provide fast to built/construct, cheap, abundant, strong and efficient shelter.

-floating sea base for the sailor while fishing, also function as temporary shelter while on the sea. They use bamboo because of its strength and its lightness and as bad water absorbent. It is light and mobile therefore it can be moved easily from one place to another place.

-ritual material, for instance:
A ritual ceremony of the Bontang Kuala Kota Bontang society in Indonesia during their sea celebration,
1. bebalai: a ceremony supplement that made from Bambu Kuning (yellowish bamboo), sea wood, rattan and yellow young coconut leaf to make a house miniature.
2. ance: food container made from Bambu Kuning (yellowish bamboo)
3. pagar mayang: a fence to form a square perimeter made from Bambu Kuning for this ritual purpose.
Basically due to the custom, people belief and the geographical nature of Indonesia archipelago, there are so many various sea celebration ceremonies that aims to ask protection from the sea deity/nature deity for abundant fish catching and safety for the sailor while go to the sea.

-pipe, water pipe for irrigation
-cutlery and cooking utensil
-furniture and domestic tools
-storage and container
-space divider, ceiling, made from woven bamboo
-animal traps
-handy craft and toys

Bamboo as Material
Beside from its natural beauty, bamboo as material has these characteristics that make bamboo very attractive material in term efficiency and economical point of few:
-the fastest growing plant (short grow circle)
-substitute for wood
-resilience and renewable natural resources
-has good economical value
-low cost to grow, as no required replanting
-can grow in any type of soil
-low cost processing, and can be used for any purposes.
-do not require nail in term of join

Although its has many advantages as material, there are some disadvantages for instance:
-material lifespan could be less longer than wood
-more complicated processing and handling compare to solid wood
-finishing, mostly for natural touch finishing only, while with wood there are more alternatives of finishing for instance laminating, painting, or combining with other materials- inlet/outlet.
-breakable, not suitable for nailing
-more fragile compare to wood during the processing.
Bamboo in term of Ecological Design and Universal Design
Due to its nature and its characteristic, bamboo can be easily used as a design material.

1. It can be classify as Ecological design material due to these characteristics:
-renewable raw material
-material that conserve its natural habitat
-recyclable material
-easily disposable material
-low emission and low energy consumption during the processing
-environmentally friendly and save

2. While bamboo can be also classified as Universal design material due to these characteristics:
-equitability, it can be accessed by everyone regardless their social status.
-flexibility, it can be used for many difference application
-simple and intuitive, it is a simple material that has inner beauty to discover, from its texture, natural characteristic from each difference type of bamboo, color, and size.

Bamboo as future
Why bamboo as future?
Bamboo as a future material because it has character as:
-renewable material (fast growing and short grow circle),
-material than can be easily grown, low cost while at the same time has good economical value,
-material that can be used for many types of application both domestic and industrial purposes, while at the same time has low environmental destruction both during the processing or at the end of the product life.
-material that able as substitute to the wood, while at the same time has low destruction to the environment compare to the excessive use of wood.
-a complete material, as almost every part of the bamboo can be used (stem, leaf and its shoots).
-it has strength like wood, it is cheaper compare to wood, but has more applications can be adopted; this will make bamboo as affordable, attractive while at the same time efficient.
-material that requires good communication/interaction between the materials itself, the user, and the product that want be created/being used.
-material that its inner beauty still not yet totally revealed.

Possibility near future application.
-musical instrument, for instance recreation pipe organ/bamboo organ or traditional based instrument in difference way.
-interior elements: laminate, veneer, floor (parquet), furniture, and lighting
-combination with other material as a new product without disappearing its natural character.
-daily life necessities (clothing and other sanitary products or high end product combined with high technology available).
-wall, floor, ceiling panel (as flat instead curve)
-decorative product that has good selling price while at the same time good value as art object (in same period of the China dynasty, there are same artists that able to create this kind of product, but this bamboo art no longer common due to time consuming and cost consideration).
-toys for children with disabilities, especially using the texture and possibility able to stimulate the user to interact with the product without any guidance.
-good use of bamboo in any daily life application both domestic and public life to reduce air pollution.

In conclusion,
Bamboo is natural material that always being a good company to human being in their daily activities from generation to generation in human civilization history.
It has character that requires good understanding and interaction between the bamboo, the tool (processing tool), the human skill (processor) and the final product they want to create.
It is a strong material and at the same times a delicate material that requires a really good care and attention to discover the beauty behind the product (as raw material).
Bamboo is a simple material and at the same times a complex one, as it has many function and application from its simple shape.
A material that gives a basic need for human being to survive (food, shelter, and tools) and teaches how to survive in this world (it stimulates the innovative and creative process- one simple single material with many application opportunities).

Further reading
-Dransfield S. & Widjaja E. A. (Editors), 1995, Plant Resources of South-East Asia, N.7, Bamboos. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden.
-Stover Roger & Stover Hermine, 2000, Bamboo Index, Endangered Species Nursery, Perris, California, USA. <>
--,The New Book of Knowledge, 1977, Grolier, New York, USA.