Post A: The Process of Design In Different Contexts

An elusive phantonym, design is a word that means different things to different people, but at its core, is a framework for solving problems thoughtfully and thoroughly. As such, people who believe that can contribute positively to their surroundings replicate it throughout different contexts, both knowingly and unknowingly. It is developing a deep understanding of an issue, the context it exists in and the people who it affects, before creating outcomes to these issue that satisfies these multiple stakeholders. But that is where the universality ends – each individual design problem has its own unique properties that are defined by its own social, economic and geographic context.

Problem definition is the first port of call in the design process, and is happens differently in different contexts. With aviation experts at a loss to why Korean Air had multiple crashes in the 1980’s, journalist Malcolm Gladwell defined the problem as being cultural. In a strict hierarchical structure, the co-pilot would obliquely suggest there was a problem in the cockpit that the lead pilot would not appreciate the severity of and overrule (Malcolm Gladwell, 2007).

The next step problem exploration becomes more difficult in a global context because of language and cultural barriers. In our group’s experience, Banjarmasin was a relatively transparent place and young people spoke English well, so we could still rely heavily on conversation as a means of understanding youth smoking but had to still supplement it with observation and secondary research.

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A clear message, even in Bahasa Indonesia.

Ideation thrives in some contexts more than others. Creativity flourishes in diverse environments that facilitate the high volume of creative output but the way a society functions can often inhibit this flow of ideas. Communities and organisations like Google and IBM whose leaders (be it CEO, parents, or government) accept failure open the gate to more creative ideas (Amabile & Khaire 2008).

Design solutions are the most noticeable example of how design changes in different contexts influences design. Beautifully, perspectives change from person to person, city to city and country to country. As designers from Australia, designing banners to fit the context of Banjarmasin was difficult. We had to use an unconventionally bright colour palette in order overcome visibility challenges imposed by the inclement weather. These colours, although unconventional and unaesthetic in a global context, were frequently paired throughout the city of Banjarmasin.

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High visibility through vibrant colours.

Finally, feedback is one of the most important parts of the design process and differs in different contexts. In the medical profession, there is a feedback problem where doctors are reluctant to provide deep feedback to trainees because of time constraints and the desire to develop a positive relationship with the trainees. This leads to under-qualified graduates, with 55% of medical supervisors reporting having passed trainees who could have benefited from additional training (Sultan & Khan 2017).

So while design is relatively rigid framework, the intricacies of different cultures and contexts mean that design process on a different form each time it is engaged with.

 

References

Amabile, T., Khaire, M. 2008, ‘Creativity and the role of the leader’, Harvard Business Review, viewed 29 January 2018, < https://hbr.org/2008/10/creativity-and-the-role-of-the-leader&gt;.

Gladwell, M. 2008, Outliers: The Story of Success, Little, Brown and Company, New York.

Sultan, A. & Khan, M. 2017, ‘Feedback in a clinical setting: A way forward to enhance a students learning through constructive feedback’, Journal of Pakistan Medical Association, vol. 76, pp. 1078.

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Post C: Banjarmasin and Youth

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An interview with Risky Amanda Yogaswara (who goes by Yoga).

In a lush, tree lined city, constructed amidst bustling rivers, who’s citizens can be seen donning tracksuits for early morning runs in the tropical heat, a habit that damages the health of the city and its citizenry stands out like a bule. I went into the conversation with Yoga (21) at the Universitas Lambung Mangkurat hoping to understand what inspired Banjarmasin youth to smoke, and came out with a story of a young man struggling to carve out his own identity in a city with strong traditions and laws.

Yoga moved to Banjarmasin when he was 4 because his father found pharmacy work in the city and has a younger sister aged 17 also wants to pursue pharmacy. He chose instead to do natural studies (similar to biology with a strong focus on the Kalimantan area), inspired by family holidays where he would experience Borneo’s rich biodiversity as a child. Yoga told me he wants to be able to preserve this for future generations, which is becoming a big challenge.

I enquired more about Yoga’s travels, curious about whether he had ventured outside of Kalimantan and experienced areas with a different ethnic, religious and cultural fabric. We bonded over Chiang Rai, a city in northern Thailand where he had worked for one month teaching English to local students. In a happy coincidence, I found out that his experience in Chiang Mai overlapped the topic I was trying to understand; what encourages Banjaramsin youth to smoke, and also what inspires them to quit.

Upon arriving in Chaing Rai, Yoga was shocked at the price of cigarettes and at five times more expensive than in Banjaramsin, he told himself he would reduce how much he smoked in Thailand. The greater inspiration came when he met a girl in Chiang Rai. “She was so nice” Yoga told me “ and she didn’t like me smoking so I chose to stop doing it”. The process was difficult but Yoga used financial pressure to reinforce his emotional reasons for quitting. His path to quitting involved two months vaping, which allowed him to reduce and regulate his nicotine intake. Being much more expensive than cigarettes, he could not sustain it for long and eventually stopped completely, a common path for young people around the world choosing to stop smoking (Beard et al 2016, Rieder 1998).

Along with being an emotional awakening, Chiang Rai was also a chance to test Yoga own religious boundaries. He tried his first beer over there and went out to nightclubs. Asking if he enjoyed it he flashed me a guilty smile, “Yes”. “I was scared to tell my mother, but when I did she wasn’t angry. She just told me not to do it again. I don’t think I will.”

Our conversation inevitably faded away after students began offering us local sweets but as we took our final photo together, I felt humbled to have had such an honest encounter with Yoga.

References

Beard, E., West., R. 2016, ‘Association between electronic cigarette use and changes in quit attempts, success of quit attempts, use of smoking cessation pharmacotherapy, and use of stop smoking services in England: time series analysis of population trends’, British Medical Journal, vol. 354.

Rieder, M. 1998, ‘Effect of changes in the price of cigarettes on the rate of adolescent smoking’, Paediatrics & Child Health, vol. 3, pp. 97-100.

The Conversation 2014, Palm oil continues to destroy Indonesian wildlife, The Conversation, viewed 20 January 2017, <https://theconversation.com/palm-oil-continues-to-destroy-indonesias-wildlife-31831&gt;.

 

[Post B] Stop Before You Start

(Image Source: Stop Before You Start)

New Zealand’s Stop Before You Start campaign is a project with roots in decades of government anti-smoking messaging, and an important step in moving toward a smoke free New Zealand in 2025.

Decreasing the smoking rate has been a challenge for countries around the globe since tobacco was scientifically proven to have links with cancers, heart disease and other health risks in 1954 (American Cancer Society 2014). In order to understand why the Stop Before You Start campaign is so notable for New Zealand, first we must skim through history of anti-smoking action. Cigarette advertising was banned in New Zealand in 1990 (Gendall et al 2016). Shortly after that, the first anti-smoking commercial was released. Over the past three decades, these campaigns have progressed from targeting the larger smoker audience to narrower demographics as the smoking rate decreased (Gendall et al 2016).

The economic principle of abatement justifies the shift. It supposes that the longer an intervention goes on, the more expensive it will be to stop another person stop smoking. Early interventions might have lowered smoking use in some categories, but those who are glued to the cigarettes are going to need a lot more targeted attention than television commercials.

Reaching a point of saturation in adults provided a problem and opportunity for the Health Protection Authority; while youth smoking was decreasing, there was still a high rate of young people trying cigarettes and these people were now the key source of new smokers. (Li et al. 2016)

Thus, they had a user for whom they could begin designing their intervention. HPA started to engage with the 14-15 year old demographic to understand their exposure to cigarettes. It became clear that young adults were anxious about what their future held, that they were heavily influenced by friends and were beginning to be exposed to cigarettes in a social setting. (Li et al. 2016)

The creative solution that encompassed all these insights became the Stop Before You Start campaign. The campaign was centred around an anti-smoking mascot, (similar to a popular solution proposed by John Oliver), who’s characteristics and mannerisms were gross and unappealing. As relationships are a big issue in adolescence, HPA decided to use the mascot to satirise the relationship that someone develops with cigarettes (HPA 2016). All clips were filmed in locations where young people are likely to be exposed to cigarettes, which would trigger memories of the advertisements when they reengaged that environment (HPA 2016). Casting the actors as young adults envisaged a realistic, undesirable future for current teenagers (HPA 2016).

Gather results from the campaign, HPA found that the it was a resounding success. 85% of their demographic recalled the advertisements, 45% regretted taking up smoking after watching it, 33% make an effort not to smoke socially and the sentiment that smoking is ‘disgusting’ in the age group rose from 65% to 74% (Li et al. 2016). But as with any design solution in a complex problem space, there is no silver bullet solution. Anti-smoking messaging will need to continue, amongst a raft of other efforts to make New Zealand smoke free by 2025.

References

American Cancer Society, 2014, The study that helped spur the US stop smoking movement, American Cancer Society, viewed 12 December 2017, <https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/the-study-that-helped-spur-the-us-stop-smoking-movement.html&gt;

Gendall, P., Hoek, J., Richard, E., Glantz, S., 2016 ‘Effect of exposure to smoking in movies on young adult smoking in New Zealand’, PLOS One.

Li, J., Guiney, H., Walton, D., 2016, ‘Evidence for a young adult-targeted tobacco control campaign stimulation cessation-related responses among adult smokers and recent quitters’, New Zealand Medical Journal, vol. 129.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, 2015, Tobacco, video recording, Youtube, viewed 13 December 2017, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UsHHOCH4q8&gt;

HPA, 2016, Stop Before You Start, HPA, viewed 13 December 2017, <https://www.hpa.org.nz/stop-before-you-start&gt;

[Post D] Smart Consumption: The Banana Leaf

(Image source: Platterform)

Banana leaves are multipurpose tools that play an integral role in Indonesian culture. A native plant, banana trees make up a large portion of Indonesia’s agricultural sector and have an important influence in both Indonesian culinary traditions, and their ability to live sustainably.

Indonesian cuisine adopts the banana leaf in multiple methods of cooking (Forshee 2006). Meat and fish are often wrapped in a leaf before they are steamed, grilled or boiled. The waxy outer layer provides protection from the flame and adds a smoky flavour to the meat encased within it.

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(source: Om Paramapoonya

The leaves also serve as a tool for wrapping and serving food. Sweets like barongko and getuk pisang are often served in banana leaves and it isn’t common for the leaves to replace (or reclaim) the role of a plate, allow people to eat from it, providing a culinary experience that places the eater closer to the food they are eating (Forshee 2006).

But more than food, the use of banana leaves reveals an interesting perspective on Indonesia’s approach to consumption. Where in Australia, the culture is to only value ripe and aesthetic bananas, Indonesia places more of an importance on using the whole banana plant (Kosuke et al 2013).

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Map revealing the key areas of banana production in Indonesia

This ideology stems from the fact that bananas are interwoven with Indonesian history and culture. Bananas are native to the equatorial areas of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and records dating as far back as the 8th century show Indonesians farming banana plants (Dove 2011). Before colonial trade structures, with less variety of plants and crops, the Indonesian people met their needs with the resources they had available (Dove 2011). Banana leaves, with their naturally waxy coat, could be easily cleaned and used to wrap food for transport and preservation (Kosuke et al 2013).

When it comes to sustainable living, the banana leaf provided a clever way for Indonesia to live within their means when it came to packaging. The banana leaf was sourced as a by-product from an abundant crop, a lesson in how to use all of something to reduce waste (Kima Surf 2017). In doing this, there was no need to consume other materials to complete the tasks that the banana leaf could do.

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Modern Banana Leaf packaging (source: Nanyang Technological University)

This is a stark contrast to the post-plastic Indonesia of today that’s infrastructure and environment struggle under the strain of the increasing plastic burden. While banana leaves only takes a few weeks to compose, plastic takes generations, transforming the simple task of transporting your lunch in a safe way into an intergenerational waste problem (Kima Surf 2017). “And for what?” is the question the future generations will ask their Indonesian predecessors. “It seems like we had it pretty well covered with banana leaves”.

References

Dove, M., 2001, Banana Tree at the Gate, Yale University Press.

Forshee, J., 2006, Culture and customs of Indonesia, Greenwood Publishing Group.

Kima Surf, 2017, From banana leaves to plastic bags, Seminyak, viewed 6 December 2017, < https://kimasurf.com/sustainability/&gt;

Kosuke, M., Mugniesyah, S.S., Herianto, A.S., Hiroshi, T., 2013, ‘Talun-Huma, Swidden Agriculture, and Rural Economy in West Java, Indonesia’, Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 2, pp. 351-381.

Platterform, 2017, Archive, London, viewed 6 December 2017, < http://www.platterform.com/toko-indonesian-kitchen-bar-deli/&gt;.

Paramapoonya, O., 2015, Cooking with Banana Leaves, viewed 6 December 2017, <https://hubpages.com/food/Cooking-with-Banana-Leaves&gt;.