POST A: Contextualising Design

Design is a practice that perpetually dances between input and response. As designers, it is our job to take an informed approach to design situations to drive a pragmatic yet creative response. Under different contexts, however, this equation becomes subject to immense change; we must widen and shift our intellectual scope to accommodate for the assumptions and preconceptions we bring with us.

The physical setting in which the design sphere exists greatly influences the thought processes of the designer. The sights, smells, sounds and feel of an environment all act as inspiration, shaping the way we perceive a design problem; above all, it contextualises any design outcomes produced within that space. We must understand physical constraints and leniences in order to produce a contextualised design, and critically observe the collective purpose behind the elements of which a physical space is comprised (Madanipour, 1999).

 

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Banjarmasin, Helander 2018. 

 

Reading a physical space simultaneously advances our understanding of the sociocultural forces actuating the movement and change we call ‘life’. Upon studying the differences in lifestyle between Sydneysiders and residents of Banjarmasin, in Banjarmasin itself, it became evident that we couldn’t simply apply a globalised design approach to a local context; instead, the design problem was culture-centrically framed, with the values and lifestyles of the locals integrated ahead of our own for the purpose of generating genuine interest (Dorst et al. 2011). This basic framework can and should be applied to any design context to provide the designer with further insight.

Arguably the most important aspect of intercultural exchange is the way it facilitates the translation of vastly different ideologies, viewpoints and idiosyncratic ideas, providing global links between local scale sociocultural spheres. This of course extends far beyond the confines of design; however the impact on design is pronounced. Newfound ways of seeing, approaches to problems, and noticing the little things are all things that can be applied to our own practice regardless of where we are; as long as we learn from every design context we enter, we begin to build a rich tapestry of experiences that can be applied whenever they are needed, as explored in Susan Piper’s In Between’ (Piper 2008). 

Design has the same effective meaning across all contexts – solving a brief for a client. However, the process, application, and outcome differs immensely across different contexts. The way a context is read, and the way that context asserts its own culture upon the designer forces a broader scope to be developed, which can then be applied to another context at a later time.

 

REFERENCES:

Madanipour, A. 1999, ‘ Why are the design and development of public spaces significant for cities?’ Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Vol. 26, pp 879-891

Dorst, K., N.F.M. Roozenburg, L.L. Chen & P.J. Stappers. 2011, ‘Themes as bridges between problem and solution’, Diversity and unity: Proceedings of IASDR2011, the 4th World Conference on Design Research, IASDR, the Netherlands, pp 1-10.

Piper, S. 2008, gang Re:Publik, Gang Festival Inc. Sydney

Helander, T. 2018, Banjarmasin

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Post C: A Local Perspective

Banjarmasin is a bustling river city near the lower shores of Kalimantan that balances industrial production and mining with traditional crafts and markets. In such a fluid city, smoking has increasingly become part of the lives of its citizens, particularly the youth, whose smoking rates have dramatically risen in the past ten years. To shed light on the factors influencing this significant spike, Haitami Salamat, a business and marketing major from the University of Lambung Mangkurat agreed to an interview.

After the usual introductions, Haitami informed me that he himself did not smoke, but had several friends and an older brother that do. Smoking is perceived as masculine, and is “for the gentleman” (Haitami, S. 2018, pers. comm. 13 Jan). His statement crystallised what had already been seen on the street; older males tended to smoke whilst working, whereas smoking is more social among younger crowds. Females often did not smoke. The interview also illuminated a general disregard of the effects of smoking. Comprehensive understanding of the spheres dictating the function of a social realm far different from one’s own is essential if any responses are to be formulated and executed (Bird, Osland 2005).

Cigarette advertising is prolific in Banjarmasin, much like the rest of Indonesia. Cigarette companies such as Magnum, LA Lights and Djarum, among others, invest heavily into advertising and often sponsor sporting events such as badminton tournaments that youth such as Haitami regularly attend (Haitami, S. 2018, pers. comm. 13 Jan). These companies invade public space, defining the things people see when they exist within that space (Madanipour 1999). By embedding their image in public spaces wherein they cannot be avoided, cigarette companies have the power to strongly sway the lifestyle choices made by people in those spaces.

Despite the dominance of these companies, some opposition does stand. Governmental policy has increased in recent years, with advertising banned certain areas of the city. Similarly, packaging must have a message reminding smokers of the ill effects of smoking, and no advertising can be aired on TV before 10pm, according to Haitami, who also indicates that a lack of understanding of the terminology used on anti-smoking programs deters a lot of viewers (Haitami, S. 2018, pers. comm. 13 Jan). As smokers are effectively the ruling class, they determine the depth of which they allow anti-smoking information to penetrate (Harvey 2003). It is therefore difficult for Australian students, as a global force, to have a significant impact on a local Indonesian sociocultural sphere.

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Haitami and myself after the interview

 

 

REFERENCES:

Bird, A. & Osland, J. 2005, ‘Making Sense of Intercultural Collaboration’, International Studies of Management & Organization, Vol. 35, Issue 4, pp 115-132

Madanipour, A. 1999, ‘ Why are the design and development of public spaces significant for cities?’ Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Vol. 26, pp 879-891

Harvey, D. 2003, ‘The Rights to the City’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research  Vol. 27, Issue 4, pp. 939-41

Group Pisang–PROJECT

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PreImpressions

Through our prep research in Sydney we could see some of the problems. We could see how a developing country could struggle to make a dent in a socially instituted problem. We could see how the industry within thenation caused issues and that our job would not be easy. But it was all theoretical. We didn’t really know anything about the city. We didn’t know how the food tasted, or that we’d be celebrities, or that we’d become mates with people from an utterly different cultural context. More importantly, we didn’t understand how we would help, we just presumed we’d be important, because our help and design skills were the purpose of the trip, right? But of course all the theory in the world would fail to illustrate the reality of Banjarmasin to us, and we felt thus as soon as we arrived.Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 8.50.23 PM

 

Initial Mapping

As we recorded our observations we quickly realised we were trying to draw conclusions from what we’d seen; the reasons behind design and behaviour. Despite our efforts, our cultural ignorance and limited language isolated us from a genuine understanding of the things we were seeing. We imagined ourselves as bubbles of another culture floating in the much larger cultural bubble of Banjarmasin. This idea formed the foundation of our map; the misshapen bubble.

But realising our deductions were worth nought, we zoomed out to consider the larger structure of our observations; how did the architecture and the food and the work ethic link? We noticed a lack of urgency in behaviour and a fluidity of environment. The city is inconstant, and the people seem unconcerned. The cultural bubble is fluid. The reasons for this and the goodness or badness of it are beside the point; we don’t have the cultural comprehension to decipher it, we only have the authority to experience it.Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 8.09.20 PM

Design Audit

Nonetheless we took quantitative data from our walk, giving us a better sense of the problem. We noticed that the market is predominantly male, with young people smoking more often socially and older men smoking whilst working. This was consolidated in one of our interviews, where the subject shared that smoking is considered masculine; it’s for the ‘gentlemen’. Street vendors and super markets seemed to be primary points of sale, with the most advertising in the city centre dedicated to L.A. Lights. Cigarettes are only purchasable by adults, but it is legal to smoke at any age, with children as young as 4 and 5 engaging in the activity.

Life in Banjarmasin

In addition to this research, we slowly gained cultural literacy through interaction with locals on the street and in shops and with food and in cars, but this was largely superfluous. More significantly, we learned by the friends we made–we were no longer scrabbling at the top of the culture, accepting what leftovers we could; we were invited to be a part of the city with them. This provided the comprehension necessary to deduce, from the little we knew, enough to develop relevant designs for the stakeholders. And even that is generous to say.Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 8.09.31 PM

Concept vision

Rather than perpetuating the traditional fear campaign, we wanted to celebrate the vision of a tobacco-free Banjarmasin; a festival isn’t for playing on guilt or anxiety. So our inspiration came from fostering this positivity; healthy lungs for yourself, a safer environment for your family, a good example for your children.

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Brainstorm

After establishing our vision, we had a mind dump session to brainstorm as many ideas for each pitch as possible. Some of the highlights included floating hashtags, Batik-styled imagery, and anti-smoking narrative, a 3D/layered frame, a cloth frame and lungs ‘as wings’.

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Concept development

After consultation with Jess and Ali, we settled on a floral mobile frame, and a lung mural to develop as our final designs. We then invested in these to refine and improve them both in line with our vision and according to the advice from the tutors.Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 8.10.07 PM

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Inspiration

After taking the Sasirangan workshop we were inspired to adapt our concept development to incorporate the style into our illustrations, to offer more recognisable motifs through our final design.

In choosing colour, we collated our photos of the city to create a palette reflective of the city. We colour-swatched from the images and chose a colourful pastel theme, as shown below.

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Collaborative drawing

In order to develop the floral theme, the four of us sat down together and drew free form interpretations of floral patterns. We took inspiration from one another as we did so and gathered the most successful elements to adapt as refined illustrations.

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Refined visual elements

We did this in Illustrator, tidying edges and refining the forms to reflect the desired style, adding colour according to our palette. Our illustrations were designed to ensure relevance to both a mobile and static frame.Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 8.10.40 PM

Final Mobile Frame Design

So to lean into the empowerment theme we had established, we used our floral imagery to encourage that positive association with the anti-smoking campaign. We borrowed from local floral and Sasirangan tradition for inspiration in our illustrations, and used pastel colouring to compliment the theme. We balanced the dimensions to maintain ease of use, for holding and carrying, whilst retaining it’s recognition as an Instagram reminiscent frame.

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Final Static Frame Design

With our vision in mind, we modelled the lungs off wing murals around the world. Festival-goers could pose in between the healthy, life-filled lungs as though they were wings, becoming themselves a part of the art and of the message.

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Hiccups

But the process was not smooth! The first mistake we made was in creating a to-scale photoshop(raster) document for the wall, making it a 12m^2 document. The laptop we were using couldn’t handle the size, capping the RAM and preventing us from saving. As a result, we were unable to offer a print version of our design.

On top of this, we took for granted our own role in the production process, and projected onto the VS team our experience of the design industry in Australia. This caused misunderstandings in the executables we needed to undertake, what we needed to follow up and what required further communications. As a result, we had a brief panic after realising we had potentially two large projects to construct and paint ourselves, one more than we’d understood to be in the brief, and only a couple of days to complete them. Fortunately, this stress was alleviated after realising that this was just an extension of our errors in communication.

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Collaboration

Collaboration was woven throughout the whole process. After receiving our briefs, before beginning to undertake them, we met as a whole group to manage the thematic design of our individual responsibilities in order to ensure cohesion throughout the festival. Before completing our own brief, we assisted the hat group with preparation for and execution of their event. We communicated with them regarding materials and used their leftovers to avoid excess expenditure.

Though as valuable as the in-team collaboration has been, far more significant was the work of VS, in seeing our designs through their production, and working with the media and the local government to make all of it possible.Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 8.11.08 PM

 

Passion

Of course, through this whole process we were keen to make what impact we could, but over the last few days that feeling has solidified into something more valuable. Now far from a costless philosophy, a city with which we’ve connected, people whom we care about, a movement to lengthen the lives of people we meet every day here, and many more across the nation. In our interviews we heard about worry for parents to the discomfort felt when a friend lights up. From pride in their own health to the tragedy of 5-year old’s smoking. The problem has become real, and our keenness has become a passion. Despite our ignorance we’re proud to be involved.Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 8.11.24 PM

Seeing Through The Cloud of Smoke

Anti-smoking campaigns have been around for decades. For the past half century or so, tobacco companies have faced fierce campaigning, taxation, and legal reform from governments and independent organisations across the world. This has been effective, dropping from 45.4% in 1977 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2000) to 14.5% in 2015 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017). Smoking campaigns have always followed the ‘smoking kills’ notion, which is of course true; however US design firm Bandujo nearly doubled hotline call rates in New York with a single campaign commissioned by the New York state government. Los Angeles later requested use of the campaign and had similar results (Bandujo 2017). 

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Banjudo 2017.

The ‘Suffering’ campaign draws on the fact that smokers know that smoking tobacco is bad for them. They know the ‘smoking kills’ routine, and to be fair, that message has been the basis for just about every anti-smoking campaign I have seen. The campaign instead focuses on the gradual, yet painful descent into poor health resultant of smoking, using harrowing images and messages to reinforce the message that it’s not about premature death, its about the months, if not years of physical and mental suffering that precedes it (West 2017). 

In health-related advertising, fear is proven to be an effective tool, doubly effective when compared to incentive-based advertising (Manyiwa, S. Brennan, R. 2012). The ‘carrot or the stick’ model, though is seems trivial, is an accurate visualisation of how the campaign works. The only difference is that this time, the stick is not a quick poke, but rather a slow plunge, and we all know which of the two is preferable. Though incentive-based advertising (for better health, as in this case) are necessary, they lack the ability to instil any feeling of necessity to act into the viewer (O’Keefe 2016). 

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Banjudo 2017.

The concept only accounts for half of the success, however. The implementation of the campaign was thorough; posters, bus stops, billboards, online ads, videos, as well as other miscellaneous print examples were distributed citywide, often occupying public spaces through which a significant amount of pedestrian and vehicle traffic passes through daily. The haunting stares of people in pain exude from bus stops and billboards, looking straight into the eyes of passersby. Smoker or not, the images are designed to capture and hold your gaze, and do so effectively, setting the standard for how advertising should be able to evoke a response in a stubborn target. The campaign exemplifies how the tobacco industry can be targeted by good designers, and how design has the power to influence global issues.

 

REFERENCES:

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2000, Health Risk Factors: Trends in smoking, viewed 18 December 2017 <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/2f762f95845417aeca25706c00834efa/738d23457b86defbca2570ec000e2f5c!OpenDocument>

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017, Australian smoking rates falling, viewed 18 December 2017 <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mediareleasesbyCatalogue/E6DE72422D16BBB4CA258130001536C2?OpenDocument>

Banjudo, 2017 New York City Anti-Smoking Campaign, viewed 18 December 2017 <http://www.bandujo.com/portfolio/new-york-city-anti-smoking-campaign/>

West, R. 2017  ‘Tobacco smoking: Health impact, prevalence, correlates and interventions’, Psychology & Health, Vol 32. Issue 32. pp. 1018-1036

Manyiwa, S. Brennan, R. 2012 ’Fear appeals in anti-smoking advertising:How important is self-efficacy?’ Journal of Marketing Management Vol. 28, pp. 1419–1437

O’Keefe, D. 2016, ‘Evidence-based advertising using persuasion principles: Predictive validity and proof of concept’ European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 50, Issue 1/2, pp. 294-300.

POST D: Indonesian Environmentalism

Indonesia has long been a country of troubled leadership. From the early European colonies to mid 19th Century political turbulence up until the past half-century or so, the country has struggled to maintain stable political leadership until independence was established in 1949 (Booth 2011). Independence, alongside the growth of tourism means the country has since undergone rapid economic and industrial growth, but at significant cost to the environment. Environmentalism has begun to grow accordingly, responding to the significant amount of plastic and other pollutants building up across the country.

Growing up in Australia, I have always had clean, safe tap water and have never had to worry about getting sick from it. Over 27 million Indonesians, however, don’t have that luxury; their tap water is contaminated with metal and chemical traces, and general water sanitation is poor (water.org 2017). This results in a dependency on plastic bottles just for drinking water, and combined with a booming tourism industry churning out straws, packaging, ponchos and other transient plastic items all year round, Indonesia has become the second largest plastic-wasting country, depositing over 200 000 tonnes of plastic into the ocean in 2016 (Lebreton, L. C. M. et al. 2017).

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(Liepold 2014)

So then, how does a country with more plastic than safe water deal with these issues? The country recognises its problem, pledging to reduce ocean plastics by 70% by 2025 (Wright 2017), and researchers from the University of Technology Malaysia have concluded that solid waste plastic can be used as an alternative fuel in Indonesian power plants (Anshar, Ani, Kader 2014). However, the process is slow, as is the general way things go when multiple political forces must act on the same page, as it is even in Australia (although maybe not to the same extent).

It is perhaps then an issue the local Indonesian population can yet only do little about; local governments do not enforce any laws, and higher authorities do not yet take a rational approach regarding how to approach the issue. It’s awful to see a place of such rich natural history and culture become spoilt by plastics and tourism. Individuals rarely have the money or authority to engage in any form of environmentalist campaigning or other action, however if nothing else, awareness has grown and people are beginning to see the need for a change in their approaches to plastic and water management.

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Booth, A 2011, ‘Splitting, splitting and splitting again: A brief history of the development of regional government in Indonesia since independence.Journal of the Humanities & Social Sciences of Southeast Asia & Oceania Vol. 167 Issue 1, p31-59.

water.org 2017, Indonesia’s water and sanitation crisis, USA, viewed 5 December 2017, <https://water.org/our-impact/indonesia/ >

Lebreton, L. C. M. et al. 2017, ‘River plastic emissions to the world’s oceans.’ Nature Communications, vol. 8, issue. 1, pp. 4-5.

Wright, T 2017, How can Indonesia win against plastic pollution?, The Conversation, viewed 5 December 2017 <https://theconversation.com/how-can-indonesia-win-against-plastic-pollution-80966>

Anshar, M., Ani, F N., Kader, A S. 2014, ‘The Potential Energy of Plastic Solid Waste as Alternative Fuel for Power Plants in Indonesia’, Applied Mechanics and Materials, Vol. 699, Issue 1, pp 595-600.

Liepold, A. 2014, Trash Season, Seeing the Woods, viewed 5 December 2017 <https://seeingthewoods.org/tag/kuta-beach/Trash Season>