Think Outside the Box, Work Inside the Box

UI/UX Designer of

by Elizabeth Lavis


30 Jun 2023

Gold in Main Title Design for Graphic Design 2020
"In creating concepts your idea can be out of the box but the execution must always be inside the box"

Although Cindy Kurniawan just graduated from Jakarta's Raffles Design Institute in 2020, she's already amassed an impressive portfolio of work and gained a reputation as one to watch. Kurniawan sees her native Indonesia's budding design scene as an exciting way to hone her talents. "Designers don't really play a big role in most companies," she says. "It's not a respected job, mentors are rare, and communities and facilities are inadequate. While some may see it as discomfort or disadvantage, I see it as the land of a thousand opportunities with so many things to work on, problems to solve, and possibilities." 

Kurniawan is no stranger to rising to the challenge. She vowed to become a designer after losing a drawing contest in elementary school. "I didn't have any prior experience in art, but somehow, I was so confident that I would win," she said. "My six-year-old self couldn't accept the fact that she lost the trophy, so she enrolled in an art club and started on a revenge journey to master the art of drawing altogether." What started as a way to soothe the ego of her child self soon turned into a passion, and Kurniawan quit high school during her senior year to attend Raffles Design Institute.


For Kurniawan, solving problems and creating beautiful, impactful design hinges on one key piece of advice that guides her work philosophy. "Yoris Sebastian, one of Indonesia's best creative practitioners, said this; 'in creating concepts, your idea can be out-of-the-box, but the execution must always be inside-the-box." The design has to be realistic, functional, and something that can happen within the client's budget and timeframe.

Kurniawan's approach is to think like a scientist and act like an entrepreneur. "Design is a creative problem-solving skill and a mix of structured thinking and imaginative innovation," she says. "My approach to design is slightly different from the stereotypical image of someone working in the industry. I don't suddenly get an 'aha' moment. Instead, I do a lot of reading, reasoning, and research."

The process begins with meticulous data collection. "I compile everything in documents that often reach more than ten pages," Kurniawan says. "After I feel like I have the data for every question that comes to my mind, the next step is summarizing and identifying the key points of my findings. Then comes the most difficult but exciting step for me, which is developing the solution."

Kurniawan's thorough and creative approach serves her well in winning the trust of her clients. She generally presents them with two options; one based upon their request and one with her professional take. While she ultimately lets them choose, this approach allows her to showcase her skills and flexibility.

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