Many times, one’s final goal is just as important as the journey taken to achieve it. This was proven beyond a doubt at this year’s Singapore Design Week, where we got to experience the exhibition Nothing is Possible, presented by the multi-faceted resort experience Desa Potato Head Bali at Singapore’s National Design Centre. Focusing on fusing fine arts with their own Zero Waste initiative, the show which will be on view through December 25th details through design work the eco-friendly blueprint and ethos that Desa Potato Head Bali has built their mini village upon.
The idea of accountability is central to the exhibition. Through multimedia art and design, Potato Head offers a creative and honest acknowledgement of everything that they’ve learned — the mistakes they’ve made, solutions they discovered and the resources they have used to get there. In featuring the inherent problems, processes, possibilities and progresses of Potato Head and their retrospective projects as well as their regenerative blueprint, the exhibition hopes to encourage, inspire and create awareness in people across the industry and beyond. A beautiful and sustainable future is achievable, and we were offered that on a sustainably sourced platter. Potato Head, refreshingly, neither claims to be perfect, nor claims that to be the goal. The heart of the matter, rather, is commitment and progress, doing better every day. In providing experiences and products for consumers that do not have to compromise on beauty, comfort and accessibility without forgoing the environment, Potato Head is also providing hope — soapbox-free.
And it’s all the brainchild of Indonesian entrepreneur Ronald Akili. His calling for change came back in 2016 when he was surfing with his son and found themselves padding in a “plastic ocean”. Surrounded by rubbish, it clicked for Akili as a father and as human that he had to do something about the situation. Being a business owner, he recognized it was imperative for him to become accountable and accept that his business was part of the problem. From that moment, he has been working tirelessly to pivot the purpose behind Potato Head and any future companies he creates.
With the help of some friends, he began to draw up a roadmap. That was six years ago. Since, Potato Head Bali has managed to reduce their landfill waste from 50 to less than five percent. In 2017, with support from the UN, they were able to offset carbon emissions and became the first hospitality company in the region to go carbon neutral. They have built a creative village by turning waste into modern architecture and beautiful, high-quality products. They have created a platform for grassroot communities and change makers to share their voice. By serving 1000 people everyday for six years, they’ve touched over two million people with their story of the possibilities of a sustainable lifestyle. Last but not least, they have shown people that Good Times can be had by Doing Good.
We got the opportunity to see this hard work ourselves, first at the exhibition in Singapore — which presented the art and design work created from waste — and then at the resort itself. Each chapter of our travels alongside Potato Head was important, unique and hopeful. Not only were we able to understand that sustainability isn’t simply a sentiment for idealists, it’s both possible and a path to beautiful art and awe-inspiring experiences.