Bale-bale, this is the traditional type of seat which is still in demand in modern society in Indonesia. In General Dictionary of Indonesian Language, Bale-bale (Balai-balai) is a type of seat or a bed made from bamboo or wood. Historically, this elongated and widened wooden seat is considered as a reflection of a culture inherent to the concept of kindship, namely the Java community.
The architecture of traditional Javanese houses generally has open spaces. This reflects the character of Javanese families who are open, and used to accommodate many people. Open space is usually used for a gathering space and “lesehan” (in General Dictionary of Indonesian Language, lesehan means sitting on the floor mat), and Bale-bale seats are often used as a relaxing seating in the gathering space, such as in the living room, and terrace.
Lesehan is part of the Javanese philosophy of life who always wants to close with the natural environment. Especially in the Javanese culture, activities such as the feast, traditional ceremonies or just a family gathering in the house, is an activity that has become the custom, and made hereditary.
Bale-bale widely used as a family seat because it can be used to relax, removable, and beautify the room. The design of Bale-bale has a special characteristic, namely rectangular, elongated and widened, and made by the teak wood. Most of the bale-bale design using patterns and ornaments of Java with a rich variety of flora curved shape.
Bale-bale is generally designed to fit at least by two adults, ranging between the size of 200 centimeters length, and 80 centimeters wide. Its length can exceed the adult body, while its width exceeds the length of the adult leg when seated. This size allows adults who sit on the Bale-bale can straighten his legs, folding legs or sitting cross-legged, or even lying.
Bale-bale’s color generally highlights the color of bamboo or natural wood, such as the brown soil, which is closer to nature. Neutral colors are able to build a cool atmosphere, and reassurance.
Javanese people generally think of themselves as a small part of the universe. The Habits of the Javanese people relaxing on the Bale-Bale, is their way to be united to the nature, immerse the soul in the natural elements, and a sense of gratitude and devotion to the Almighty. The simple design of Bale-bale can be emerged from the cultural values of Javanese society, which always keep the harmony in a relationship based on the principle of kindship with spirituality “Manunggaling Kawula Lan Gusti”, namely the attitude of surrenderd only to God
Bale-bale design can also be interpreted as a combined model Chase Longue (long chair) and Garden Furniture. There is no definite record, when Bale-bale seat model began to be produced. But the ability of Javaness people to make furniture has been started since the transition from the Hindu-Buddhist culture to Islamic culture. According to Agus Sachari and Indah Septi in their writings about “The Shift Aesthetic Style Furniture of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Palace” in ITB Journal, during the VOC, the seat models made in Java was much influenced by furniture from Europe, especially France. In 1700 the furniture in Java is known as “The French’s model”. The aesthetic style of Javanese’s culture that previously heavily influenced by Hindu’s culture (so-called Hindu-Javanese culture), were began to fade and gradually turned into a Java-European style.
The Bamboo or teak wood material which can make the Bale-bale has good quality can be placed inside or outside the home. Most Bale-bale does not use pads, but some are using the pads. The modern design of Bale-bale mostly made with backrest. Bale-bale size is also increasingly diverse. At present, Bale-bale not only enthused by the Javaness’s family, but also become the choice of interior products that are used to beautify the room, regardless of cultural background of its owner. Not surprisingly, the traditional model of Bale-bale more diverse, and more beautiful to look at.