Group Durian – Billboard Project ‘The Hidden Voices of Banjarmasin’

Designing the billboard in partnership with Vital Strategies and the community of Banjarmasin was an exercise of iterating and responding to feedback quickly. This went a long way in completing the final design to our satisfaction, professionally and on time. Our brief was to ‘consider local motifs, styles and language’ as well as communicate a ‘global message’. So, we wanted to promote the positivity of not smoking by mirroring Banjarmasin’s lively social media culture but to also give a voice to youths who choose to not smoke, portraying them as the real heroes.

Concept Development:

The design audit was extremely valuable in gathering observations of attitudes around smoking, cigarette consumption and sales. For example, we learned that cigarette advertising is heavily glamourised but is also banned on the main streets of Banjarmasin and can only be found in small residential areas as shown on our map below.

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Cigarette advertising is heavily glamourised in Banjarmasin and can only be found in smaller residential areas, not the main streets. (Group Durian. 2018.)
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Map of observations in Banjarmasin from 8th of January 2018. (Group Durian. 2018.)

The concept of a WhatsApp screen was based on our observations of interacting with the Indonesian youth, who are very connected with each other through messaging and Instagram. There was one point where one of our new friends asked for a WhatsApp number, but sadly none of us actually used WhatsApp. Given that the rise of youth smoking was a large focus of Vital Strategies’ work, we chose to communicate through a familiar, relatable format that would project an oppositional stance against peer pressure and the popularity of smoking in Banjarmasin. In the end, this seemed to work well as when we presented the design, Vital Strategies commented that the concept is easily transferrable across different languages and cultures.

The Design Process:

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Our process started on paper, roughly sketching out how the design would work before we worried about perfecting it on the computer. (Group Durian. 2018.)

A primary research-based approach seemed to serve our group well throughout the whole project as we based the final outcome on interviews with Banjarmasin students and residents, shown in the images below. This constant back-and-forth process of creating mock-ups and receiving feedback from the Banjarmasin youth was very effective in breaking down our assumptions and reinforcing the fact that we were designing for their city. Furthermore, this direct line of communication allowed us to pay close attention to detail so we could refine the wording and learn about cultural differences in Indonesia. For example, we discovered that android is actually more popular over here, so making that change would increase relatability. Similarly, 24 hour time is used more frequently than 12 hour time. This development is shown in our iterations below.

Throughout the design process, we were always confident in our concept early on but the actual design went through many changes as we received feedback from Vital Strategies and accommodated the uncertain billboard dimensions and logos. We had to quickly adapt when Vital Strategies suddenly told us there needed to be multiple logos as we were not sure where to integrate them smoothly. But as a group, this taught us about learning how to successfully adapt to the situation and deliver what the client wants even if we were not sure how it would initially work. Creating a billboard also taught us a lot about designing to a larger scale. As oppose to designing at the actual size like we did initially, we soon discovered that we could design at a smaller scale by using vectors so that it did not pixelate when it was scaled up. Finding vector files was especially difficult for the emojis because they are not our own design.

Reflection:

In the end, this ongoing collaborative process was worthwhile to perfect the outcome and hopefully influence some change among the youth here. This opportunity from Vital Strategies to design a billboard, and contribute on this level in an event of this scale has been exciting, daunting and rewarding. As both designers and global citizens this process has challenged us but as a result we have taken valuable lessons from not only the experience but the people and city of Banjarmasin. It has given us so much more confidence heading into the early stages of our design careers. We would like to say ‘Terima kasih!’ to Vital Strategies for giving us this unique opportunity and we will never forget our first real world clients!

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