June 20, 2020

Playing is Culture, Design is Culture.

There was a song from my childhood memories about a black doll that came from India called ‘Dakocan’. Then one day, I met Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, an architect from Atelier Bow Wow, Tokyo when he came to visit Dia.Lo.Gue artspace. Before we part ways, I gave him a little token of gift, The Faces of Indonesia playing card by LeBoYe. When he saw the picture of Dakko-chan, Tsukamoto Chan smiled and told me that originally, it was called ‘Winky Doll’ or known as ‘Kurombol Bura’.

The character was created and launched in Japan in the 1960s. Loved not only by children and teenagers, but it was also popular among adults. People wear dakko-chan dolls on their arms and eventually, it became a booming trend at the time. When the media covered this, they started to call it Dakko Chan. Because as the name implies, ‘dakko’ means to hug, the doll can be attached to the arm as if hugging its owner. This air-filled plastic doll was originally produced by Takara Vinyl in Yokohama.

.As time passes by, Dakko Chan cannot meet the market demand. Fakes and replicas began to appear. It was said that to know for sure the originality of Dakko Chan, their eye can blink because it was made using a lenticular printing technique. 

Dakocan was also very popular in Indonesia, many trademarks with Dakocan images emerges in the early 1960s. They appear in food products, from biscuits, kuaci, candy, to cooking spices, vinegar, toiletries such as soap and candles. Pak Kasur, the writer of the popular children’s song, composed a one titled ‘Dakocan’.

Kulihat ada boneka baru
Dari karet amat lucu
Dakocan namanya bukan Sarinah
Sayang sayang mahal harganya”.

“I see there’s a new doll Very cute, from rubber Dakocan’s name is not Sarinah What a shame, it’s expensive!”
Unfortunately, the price was actually quite expensive, the song implies a reminder for us to save money not to buy expensive products. However, Dakocan was still selling well.

In Indonesia, the trend of plastic dolls is so strong, that it has given birth to the Dakko Chan trademark, ranging from biscuits, kuaci, candy, cooking spices, vinegar, candles to toiletries such as soap, which are in abundance.

The designer who created Dakko Chan, Kigen Ōki was said to be still in college at the time when the doll became popular. This phenomenon shows us the monumental influence of design until it finally becomes a trend. It fits perfectly with Takara Vinyl’s tagline which reads “Playing is Culture”, because of course at the end, design is culture.