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.)
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.


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!


POST B: Plain Packaging – Has This Been A Successful Design Initiative For Tobacco Control?

Growing up in Australia today, the harsh consequences of smoking are regularly advertised. This is completely different to how my parents grew up in the 1970s, a time where the diseases linked to smoking were only just being discovered by scientists and doctors. Studies show that still only a few people understand the specific health risks of tobacco use. For example, a 2009 survey conducted by the World Health Organisation in China revealed that “only 38% of smokers knew that smoking causes coronary heart disease and only 27% knew that it causes stroke”. (World Health Organisation 2017.)

As part of an initiative to “make Australia the healthiest country by the year 2020”, (Cancer Council Victoria 2011) and knowing the cigarette pack has become an important means of communicating the risks of smoking, the Australian Government decided to fund a project to introduce what is known as plain packaging. From December 1 2012 all tobacco products were legally required to be in plain packaging, making Australia the first country in the world to introduce this top-down design led initiative. (The Department of Health 2017.) This initiative requires all tobacco products in Australia to be standardised and sold in uniform plain green boxes, typefaces and “contain graphic images of diseased smokers”. (White, V. Williams, T. & Wakefield, M. 2015.) It requires the removal of all branding such as colours, imagery, logos and trademarks. (2015.)

Cigarettes in Australia are sold in identical green packets bearing the same typeface and largely covered with graphic health warnings. (Photo: Hutton, J. 2017.)
I was a young teenager when plain packaging was first implemented in Australia. It surely put me off smoking for good as I never wanted to even try it. (Photo: Hutton, J. 2017.)

These were all done in support of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations Act 2011. (Federal Register of Legislation 2016.) Its objectives were to “improve public health by discouraging people from using tobacco products or starting, increase the number of smokers who quit and reduce exposure to tobacco smoke.” (The Department of Health 2017.)  Increasing the effectiveness of health warnings helps to reduce the ability that previous “glamorised” (2017) retail packaging had on consumers. I believe these improvements in how tobacco products are promoted through packaging are essential to reducing the unacceptable level of death and disability caused by smoking in Australia. This is because people are more likely to understand the side effects through confronting imagery as oppose to text.

Cigarette packaging in Australia was “glamorised” (The Department of Health 2017) in the 1970s, where people were not warned of the diseases smoking would later cause them. (Photo: Sludge, G. 1970.)

Two years after the Act was introduced in 2012, the Australian Government commenced a “Post-Implementation Review” (2017) of tobacco plain packaging to “assess its effectiveness.” (2017.) The results concluded the Act is having a positive impact because in results released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there was a general decrease in the smoking rate, dropping from 15.1% in 2012 to 12.8% in 2014. (2017.) Cancer Council researcher Professor Melanie Wakefield also commented “about 20% of people who smoke made attempts to quit over the course of a month…after plain packaging, that went up to nearly 27% of people who made quit attempts”. (Wakefield, M. 2017.) Furthermore, Doctor Tasneem Chipty, an expert in econometric analysis says from December 2012 to September 2015, “the 2012 packaging changes resulted in 108, 228 fewer smokers”. (Chipty, Dr T. 2017.) It is evident that plain packaging in Australia has been successful when it is compared to countries like Indonesia, where this incentive has not been introduced. While the number of smokers in Australia is decreasing, statistics show that the number of smokers in Indonesia rose over the last year, from 31.8% in 2015 to 34.1% in 2016. (Reddy, K.S. Yadav, A. Arora, M. 2017.)

Although plain packaging has shown positive results in Australia, it also highlights problems. The World Trade Organisation granted Indonesia the right to challenge Australia’s plain packaging laws in 2014. (Moore, S. 2014.) Indonesia’s Trade Ministry director Bachrul Chairi believes Australia “breaches international trade rules and the intellectual property rights of brands.” (Chairi, B. 2014.) Chairi further comments that it removes an available avenue of brand advertising for cigarette companies. (2014.) Since Indonesia is the “sixth biggest tobacco exporter and provides jobs to more than six million people”, (Moore, S. 2014) there is an incentive to promote the tobacco industry. The final ruling is yet to be made.

Indonesian workers hand roll cigarettes at a factory in Surabaya. If there was a decline of smoking in Indonesia, this would result in job loss for these people. (Photo: Chairi, B. 2014.)

On a universal level, the UK has followed Australia in the plain packaging laws as of May 2016, (Bourke, L. 2016) citing the decline in Australia’s smoking rate as proof that it works. In the future, Ireland, France and New Zealand are among several countries committed to following Australia and the UK in introducing plain packaging. (2016.) Consequently, with other countries coming on board, I strongly believe that plain packaging will continue to globally succeed in battling the tobacco epidemic as its graphic imagery showing the diseases smoking causes provides a much more powerful message than words on the old packaging ever will. We just need to convince Indonesia to follow this trend.


Reference List:

Bourke, L. 2016, ‘Australia Made It Easier for UK to Introduce Plain Packaging Says Kevin Rudd’, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 13 December 2017, <;

Cancer Council Victoria. 2011, ‘Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products: A Review of the Evidence’, Cancer Control Policy, Position Statements, vol. 1, no. 1, pp 13-16, viewed 10 December 2017.

Chairi, B. 2014, ‘Indonesia Challenges Australia’s Plain Cigarette Packaging Law At WTO’, Jakarta Globe, viewed 12 December 2017, <;

Chipty, Dr T. 2017, Evaluation of Tobacco Plain Packaging in Australia, Australian Government, viewed 11 December 2017, <;

Federal Register of Legislation. 2016, Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011, Australian Government, viewed 11 December 2017, <;

Hutton, J. 2017, ‘Smoking: Australia’s Packing Up, Why Can’t China, Indonesia?’, This Week In Asia, viewed 13 December 2017, <;

Moore, S. 2014, ‘Indonesia To Challenge Australia’s Plain Packaging Tobacco Laws at World Trade Organisation’, ABC News, viewed 12 December 2017, <;

Reddy, K.S. Yadav, A. Arora, M. 2017, ‘Indonesia: Integrating Tobacco Control Into Health and Development Agendas’, Tobacco Control, vol. 21, no. 1, pp 24-26, viewed 11 December 2017.

Sludge, G. 1970, ‘The VIrtual Tobacconist – Flip-top UK Cigarette Packets – Brands, c 1970’, Flickr, viewed 11 December 2017, <;

The Department of Health. 2017, Introduction of Tobacco Plain Packaging in Australia, Australian Government, viewed 11 December 2017, <;

Wakefield, M. 2017, Smoking and Tobacco Control, Cancer Council Australia, viewed 11 December 2017, <;

White, V. Williams, T. & Wakefield, M. 2015, ‘Has the Introduction of Plain Packaging with Larger Graphic Health Warnings Changed Adolescents Perceptions of Cigarette Packs and Brands?’, Tobacco Control, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 06-11, viewed 11 December 2017.

World Health Organisation. 2017, ‘WHO Report On The Global Tobacco Epidemic: Monitoring Tobacco Use and Prevention Policies’, Bloomberg Philanthropies, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 19-25, viewed 10 December 2017.

POST D: Batik In Indonesia

Batik is an Indonesian heritage from the 19th Century, derived from Javanese words amba, which means “to write” (Daszak, P. & Howard, S.E. 2011), and titik, “to dot.” (Daszak, P. & Howard, S.E.) It is a fabric that has been decorated using a “wax resist dyeing method” (Daszak, P. & Howard, S.E.), where the batik maker applies a pattern of hot wax to a cloth. Once the wax dries, the fabric is either brushed with or dipped into a series of dyes. When the wax is later removed, it preserves the intricate patterns of unstained cloth. (Murinto, P. & Aribowo, E. 2016). As I naively thought, batik is not just a combination of colour and pattern, but are symbolic, with each image and every colour determined by traditions and in turn, imply unique meaning. Each batik is different due to influences by local cultures due to “colonial rule, wartime occupation, trade and other geographical factors.” (Henn, C. 2004). Just like my family has a different patterned Scottish tartan to another, throughout all parts of Asia (not just Indonesia), batik can be defined according to “pattern, colour, or fabric” (UNESCO 2009) and carries great social, cultural and political significance.

Today there are “over 2500 batik motifs patented” (Marini, T. 2016) and the development of batik across Indonesia is still happening along modern and traditional influences, so I will only describe a few. Based on the general pattern and colours, “batik in Java is usually divided into inland, also known as pedalaman batik and coastal, pesisir batik.” (Emeralda, E. 2016). Pedalaman batik, especially from places like Yogyakarta and Surakarta as mapped, it is regarded as the oldest form in Java. The absence of external influences such as religion or culture is demonstrated through the “earthy colours used such as black, indigo, brown and yellow” (Emeralda, E.). Another colour was a brown-yellow known as “sogan” (Emeralda, E.) made from a “native tree dye.” (Emeralda, E.)

Yogyakarta batik. (Photo: Emeralda, E. 2016)
Surakarta batik. (Photo: Marini, T. 2016)

Conversely, in the northern areas of Java, Cirebon and Madura where trading was historically more prevalent, the batik reflects outside influences with foreign patterns and brighter colours such as light blues and pinks. Furthermore, evidence of trading with China is demonstrated in the patterns of Cirebon batik through the phoenix and dragon. (Emeralda, E.)

Cirebon batik. (Photo: Emeralda, E. 2016)
Madura batik. (Photo: Marini, T. 2016)

Batik was introduced to Sumatra, Bali and Kalimantan from Javanese influences as demand only increased with local development. (Ernawati, K. 2012). Here, batik known as “benang bintik from central Kalimantan”, (Ernawati, K.) was traditionally only used for weddings or ceremonies, but today is starting to pop up in local designers’ works. Batik from these areas are characterised by “bright vibrant colours,” (Ernawati, K.), usually done by hand as oppose to block printing. Today, flowers are particularly prominent in areas of Sumatra and Bali to support modern day tourism needs.

Sumatra batik. (Photo: Marini, T. 2016)
Bali batik. (Photo: Marini, T. 2016)
Kalimantan batik. (Photo: Emeralda, E. 2016)

Batik in Indonesia is not just a combination of pattern and colour but a representation of the land in which it originates due to trade relations across Asia. Batik is so unique it is possible to identify its derivation through pattern and colours. I am looking forward to seeing this in different parts of Indonesia, particularly Kalimantan when I visit in January.

Batik Map.jpg
This map visually represents the batik across Indonesia I have discussed, making it easier for you to identify where these places are on a map. (Illustration: Nicholl, A. 2017)

Reference List:

Daszak, P. & Howard, S.E. 2011, ‘Punctuated Equilibria and Indonesian Art’, EcoHealth, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 134-5, viewed 04 December 2017

Emeralda, E. 2016, ‘3 Distinct Types of batik That You Should Know’, Arts and Culture, Indonesia Tatler, viewed 04 December 2017 <;

Ernawati, K. 2012, ‘Types and Variations of Batik Indonesia’, Just You Fashion, viewed 05 December 2017 <;

Google Maps 2017. Indonesia, viewed 06 December 2017 <,105.1698715,6z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x2c4c07d7496404b7:0xe37b4de71badf485!8m2!3d-0.789275!4d113.921327?dcr=0&gt;

Henn, C. 2004, ‘Batik Designs’, School Arts: The Art Education Magazine for Teachers, vol. 103, no. 6, pp. 48, viewed 04 December 2017

Marini, T. 2016, ‘Know Various Types of Traditional Indonesian Batik Patterns’, Tinuku, viewed 05 December 2017 <;

Murinto, P. & Aribowo, E. 2016, ‘Image Segmentation Using Hidden Markov Tree Methods in Recognising Motif of Batik’, Journal of Theoretical and Applied Information Technology, vol. 85, no. 1, pp. 27-33, viewed 04 December 2017

Nicholl, A. 2017, ‘Map of batik across Indonesia.’

UNESCO. 2009, Indonesian Batik, Youtube, viewed 04 December 2017 <;