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Fashion designer Merdi Sihombing will not take offence if I describe his work as rubbish. Because that, in part, is what it is (writes Lyria Messahel).

Such is his passion for sustainability and eco-friendliness, that he creates textile dyes from used teabags and household waste! His search for natural textiles and dyes also takes him into the rainforest and the traditional cultures of the World’s fourth most populous nation.

The results of his travels are beautiful designs and textiles, creations rich in nature and tradition, which have made him a star of the catwalk in Indonesia and throughout Southeast Asia.

In Berlin recently for the Jakarta-Art-Festival here, Merdi – one of Indonesia’s top fashion designers and an international star – spoke passionately of his commitment to environmentally-friendly fashion. He travels across the 17,000-island Indonesia archipelago, in search of inspiration, meeting with traditional weavers, and creating bonds between them and the modern world of contemporary fashion.

He found inspiration also in Berlin, impressed by the cleanliness of the River Spree, and dazzled by the city’s classical architecture and great museums.

“Berlin is an amazing city – a green city, “he says. “I’ve been really impressed at the warmth of the welcome we have received – everything is very clean here. I’m crazy about Berlin”.

Merdi welcomes the strong links these two great world cities; Berlin, Germany’s largest city with a population of 3.5 million, and Jakarta with 10 million. Even so, he says, Indonesia’s capital city has much to learn from Berlin.

“I can imagine what it would have been like to be here 25 years ago. The Fall of the Berlin Wall must have been a very emotional experience. It was not just for Berlin – it happened for all the people of the World.”

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