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Interview: The Handmade Radio

This article is part of The GOOD (and ReadyMade) Guide to Slowing Down, from GOOD Issue 18. Read more of the guide here. Singgih...

This article is part of The GOOD (and ReadyMade) Guide to Slowing Down, from GOOD Issue 18. Read more of the guide here.Singgih Kartono wanted to improve the economic conditions of his fellow Indonesian villagers. He also wanted to build a low-fi radio out of sustainably harvested wood. He married the two with a cult design hit.Why a radio? Radios and wood carry similar philosophies: Wood tells us about life, balance, and limitations; it's perfect because of its imperfectness-so is a radio. It's an imperfect gadget that gives us the possibility to do other activities at the same time. But, most of all, I myself just love that gadget.How long does it take to make one? Sixteen hours.How many parts are there? About 40.What was the hardest part to get your hands on? The electronic parts. Many companies gave me a very high minimum order. That was impossible to do, so I decided to buy a radio in the market. I broke it down and used the electronic part. Fortunately, my shortcut worked.How many did you make? Two hundred to 250 radios each month.Why is your radio better than a mass-produced one you can get at a store? Because of its imperfectness. Minimal graphics, no coating finish, a simple shape, beautiful details-all of that will build a deeper product-user relationship. I believe a person who has my radio will not easily lend it to other people because it becomes more personal.Can you share a few words of wisdom about the benefits of doing things the slow way? Life is too hurried now. It is driven by technology, capitalism, industry. All of them will run faster and faster based on this [idea of] "unlimitedness." People's brains and needs are also unlimited, but we should be aware that we live on a limited planet. Nature has already warned us. Doing things slower will save our lives, it will make life more meaningful.Illustration by Tim Lahan

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