POST A: Indonesian And Australian Design – What To Consider

Local context should always be considered when designing because it is “seen as a mirror and agent of change.” (Moalosi, R. Popovic, V. & Hickling-Hudson, A. 2006.) This varies a lot between countries or even between different groups within the same society. Context also has a “big influence on what people regard as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ design.” (BBC UK. 2014.) For example, in South Africa red is the colour of mourning. However, in China red symbolises good fortune. Trying to sell the same red product in those two countries would produce a very different response. Furthermore, any design for a society that has not considered their cultural beliefs as well as social and political practices has the potential to be pointless because it may lack meaning for them. Therefore, to be sure that a design will have an impact and serve the needs of the target market, it has to be created whilst considering their local mores. The only way you can do this is by understanding their social, technological, economic, environmental and political context. (Raynsford, N. & Lipton, S. 2000.) I realised this whilst immersing myself in the Indonesian culture, conducting research and undertaking an anti-smoking campaign with Vital Strategies, where my group and I designed a billboard to discourage smoking.

Walking around the colourful streets of Banjarmasin and talking to Indonesians allowed me to understand and respond to the unique social context of this engagement. For example, when developing our billboard design, we quickly noticed how popular it was amongst the Indonesian youth to take pictures using their smart phones. We also observed that unlike Australia where the predominant messaging application used is iMessage, in Indonesia, this was WhatsApp. As our billboard needed to be relevant to the audience we were targeting, this was an important piece of information we gathered to ensure the success of our design. In addition, we also learned through discussion with the Indonesian youth and Vital Strategies that our assumption of iPhones being as popular in Indonesia as they are in Australia was wrong. In fact, 88.37% of the Indonesian market in December 2017 (Statista. 2017.), used Android phones. As such we had to modify our design to reflect the social context in order to achieve greater local relevance and trigger an emotional response from the audience.

My group’s first iteration of the billboard started out in our presumed most popular format: iPhone. Our design had to change when we learned that Android phones were more popular in Indonesia. (Image: Group Durian. 2018.)
Our final design using the Android format was more relevant to an Indonesian context. (Image: Group Durian. 2018.)

Furthermore, during my time in Banjarmasin I noticed some key cultural and regulatory differences between Australia and Indonesia exist. This makes the task of reducing the prevalence of smoking in Indonesia significantly more difficult. Such differences should be acknowledged and taken into consideration during any anti-smoking design initiative for Indonesia. Firstly, as a Muslim country, drinking is not a wide-spread recreational pastime and as such cigarettes are arguably of greater importance as a source of relaxation and social interaction.

Research into Indonesian cigarette advertisements. (Image: Lepew, P. 2011.)

Secondly, Indonesia is the “only country in the South-East Asia region that still allows cigarette advertisements to be aired on TV and radio, and ads are also printed in newspapers, magazines, and on billboards” (Anshari, D. 2017.), with only minor restrictions that the Tobacco Industry must adhere to. For example, this L.A. lights billboard to the left literally says “DON’T QUIT”. (Morris, P. 2011.) Conversely, Australia’s political context does not allow for any tobacco advertisements at all with the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992. (The Department of Health. 2017.)


Walking the streets of Banjarmasin, it became apparent that cigarette advertising was far more prevalent than it is when I stroll the streets of Sydney. This difference needs to be acknowledged when designing for Indonesia or Australia. (Images above: Nicholl, A. 2018.)

Lastly, packaging laws in Indonesia allow for 60% of the packet to focus on branding and glamourising the product, with the remaining 40% to be on health warnings. (Anshari, D. 2017.) By contrast, Australian law prevents all branding and provides no opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves. Cigarette packaging must focus on the health warnings as a result of smoking alone under the recent Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011. (The Department of Health. 2017.)

indonesian cigarette packaging
At a street market in Banjarmasin, the health warnings on the cigarette packets were mostly covered up by a red sticker. This would be illegal in Australia. (Image: Nicholl, A. 2018.)
The uniform plain packaging of cigarette packets in Australia. (Image: Scott, L. 2017.)

Given these positive influences that actually promote smoking in Indonesia, I realised a design campaign there might focus not only on why smoking is bad for you like it is in Australia’s context, but could also consider ways to dismiss or negate positive attitudes towards smoking in order to successfully design for their context.

In addition, I have come to discover that an Indonesian anti-smoking campaign focussed on fears should not necessarily assume that culturally Indonesian people fear the same things as Australians. In Australia for example, design campaigns such as the plain packaging shown previously are very much focussed on premature death and the risk of dying. However, when I conducted an interview with youth leader Gading, he told me that Indonesians do not care about confronting pictures of disease because they know they will die anyway, so they may as well die smoking. (Fajar, G. 2018.) The prevalence of strong Muslim beliefs in Indonesia might mean that the fear of dying is less relevant and powerful. Arguments and designs that show smoking is somehow inconsistent with the values and beliefs of their religion may be far more likely to succeed in an anti-smoking design campaign.

Subsequently, design must always consider the social, political and cultural context.  Without acknowledging the importance of these local contexts, designers risk delivering messages that do not influence the target audience and risk failing to achieve their fundamental design objectives.


Reference List:

Anshari, D. 2017, ‘Effectiveness of Pictorial Health Warning Labels for Indonesia’s Cigarette Packages’, Doctoral Dissertation, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 20, viewed 31 January 2018, <;

BBC UK. 2014, Cultural Influences on Design, GCSE Bitesize, viewed 30 January 2018 <;

Fajar, G. 2018, Interview, 19 January 2018

Group Durian, 2018. Billboard Final Design, 17 January 2018

Group Durian, 2018. Billboard Iteration One, 12 January 2018

Lepew, P. 2011, Indonesia Tobacco Giant’s Shameful Billboard Says “DON’T QUIT”, Tobacco Free Kids, viewed 31 January 2018 <;

Moalosi, R. Popovic, V. & Hickling-Hudson, A. 2006, ‘Culture-driven Product Innovation’, Proceedings 9th International Design Conference, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 573-578, viewed 30 January 2018, <;

Morris, P. 2011, L.A. Lights ‘Don’t Quit’ Billboard, Tobacco Free Kids, viewed 31 January 2018 <;

Nicholl, A. 2018, Banjarmasin Cigarette Advertising, 08 January 2018

Nicholl, A. 2018, Glamourised Cigarette Packaging, 08 January 2018

Raynsford, N. & Lipton, S. 2000, ‘Urban Design In The Planning System: Towards Better Practice’, BETR Environmental Transport Regions, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1-99, viewed 30 January 2018, <;

Scott, L. 2017, Australia Wins Landmark WTO Tobacco Packaging Case, Acosh, viewed 31 January 2018 <;

Statista. 2017, Market Share of Mobile Operating Systems in Indonesia from January 2012 to December 2017, The Statistics Portal, viewed 31 January 2018, <;

The Department of Health. 2017, Introduction of Tobacco Plain Packaging in Australia, Australian Government, viewed 31 January 2018, <;

The Department of Health. 2017, Tobacco Advertising, Australian Government, viewed 31 January 2018, <;


Post D: Masjid in Context

By Catherine Nguyen

A local mosque spotted on my travels to Banjarmasin (Nguyen, C. 2018)

Architecture is a reflection of our values, ideologies and lifestyles- and although fixed concretely at a certain space and time, its foundation allows for it to continue to live on and tell stories for the years, decades and possibly centuries to come. It seeks to challenge the ways of working, thinking and relating (Turpin, E. (ed.) 2013) in accordance with context; and it is also through this context that informs the structure and constitutes for the style and materials used in the first place.

Travelling to Indonesia and learning more about this beautiful country allowed me to realise how diverse their culture was, and how this was mirrored in their different styles of architecture. As an archipelago consisting of thousands of islands with seas and straits creating barriers between cities (Sadali, A. 1979), it was to no surprise that this diversity would have made its way to even the smallest of cities such as Banjarmasin. There was a unique juxtaposition of contemporary, high rise buildings against the traditional stilt houses by the waters- and even the places they prayed at, the masjid (or mosques), were designed with variation.

One may have easily recognized the difference in character between a mosque in Turkey and one in India, as they would have belonged to a specific architectural style influenced by their respective contexts (Sadali, A. 1979). But what about a mosque in Banjarmasin in comparison to a mosque in say, Jakarta? Or Bandung? Although they share the same country that is Indonesia, each city are their own individual entities; differing in lifestyles, beliefs and traditions. Hence, the architectural style of their homes, buildings and mosques would be decisions reflective of their own local tastes.

6758411515_cd8c360afc_o.jpg   Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 4.19.35 pm.png

Great Mosque of Banten on the left (Kharisman, I. 2012) and the Javanese Joglo on the right (MacMhathain, D.)

As the most populous Muslim nation in the world with the Islamic religion reportedly embraced by nearly 90% of their population (Indonesia Investments, n.d.), the abundance of mosques within Indonesia are significant in their portrayal of their different communities; their designs a depiction of their contexts. Whilst the Great Mosque of Banten prides itself on their ‘stacked roofs’, a design deriving from the traditional Javanese dwellings (Sadali, A. 1979), other mosques in Banjarmasin and other areas are inspired by sources beyond Indonesia. The ‘onion’ dome, arched windows and doorways found in the Masjid Jami Banjarmasin are architectural decisions influenced by Byzantine models (Pringle, R. 2010) and representative of the desire of Indonesian rules to emulate their observations during their overseas travels (Sadali, A. 1979).

Aside from traditional models, contemporary styles have also surfaced in Indonesia, where architects have sought to challenge the pre-existing beliefs of the definitive characteristics of a mosque. The ‘Salman’ mosque complex on the campus of the Institute of Technology in Bandung presents an evident case of how ‘modern thoughts and sentiments are being amalgated with Islamic concepts’ (Sadali, A. 1979). Despite lacking the stacked roofs and arched windows, the building still holds the same ideologies as any other mosque; serving as a place to unite, pray and worship.

The inclusivity of the Islamic religion has also realised the need to represent minority communities in Indonesia through architectural design as well. Islamic Chinese Indonesians, whom have previously been viewed as a ‘redundant legacy of history’ (Jacobsen, M. 2005), have recently begun to enjoy their ‘newfound freedom to express their culture’ within the last decade, the Reformasi era (Dickson, A. 2008). The Muhammad Cheng Hoo mosque in Surabaya was built in appreciation for this minority, and hence is the first mosque in Indonesia with Chinese inspired architecture. With an appearance seemingly reminiscent of a Chinese pagoda, there are features which correlate to Arabic and Javanese influences (Wonderful Indonesia, 2017)- highlighting the beauty and compatibility of Islamic and Chinese culture.

Throughout the Islamic world there is unity amongst diversity (Sadali, A. 1979); despite the diversity in ethnic backgrounds or distinctions in the architectural design depending on various contexts, their beliefs are practiced in unison. Architecture, although an old design profession, continues to reflect these similarities and differences physically- and though their styles may become outdated, the history, culture, values and beliefs captured in these works of art stay timeless.



Dickson, A. 2008, ‘A Chinese Indonesian Mosque’s Outreach in the Reformasi Era’, 17th Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, Melbourne, pp. 1-11.

Indonesia Investments n.d., Religion in Indonesia, viewed 1 February 2018, <;.

Jacobsen, M. 2005, ‘Islam and Processes of Minorisation among Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia: Oscillating between Faith and Political Economic Expediency’, Asian Ethnicity, vol. 6, no. 2, pp 71-87.

Kharisman, I. 2012, Masjid Banten, Flickr, viewed 1 February 2018, <;.

MacMhathain, D. 2016, Javanese Joglos: Aristocratic Houses, Flickr, viewed 1 February 2018, <;.

Pringle, R. 2010, Understanding Islam in Indonesia: Politics and Diversity, Editions Didier Millet PTE LTD, Singapore, pp. 190.

Sadali, A. 1979, ‘In Search of an Islam-Initiated Architectural Identity in Indonesia’, Architecture as Symbol and Self Identity, pp. 87-90.

Turpin, E. (ed.) 2013, Architecture in the Anthropocene, vol. 1, Open Humanities Press.

Wonderful Indonesia, 2017, 10 Most Unique Mosques in Indonesia, viewed 1 February 2018, <;.


Post A: The importance of local context in design

Design is aimed to be impactful and transformational; a key determinant to our quality of living (Hewkett 2005). This momentous goal is achieved through the designer considering further than just the aesthetic and functional qualities of a design, but rather relishing in the importance of understanding who the design is for and how it relates to the user. The profound understanding of users is only attained through exploring and analsying the social, political and environmental aspects of the user. These spectrums all fall into the user’s local context, thus making an intrinsic link between design and local context.

When comparing the fashion design market between the city of Sydney, Australia and Banjarmasin, Indonesia, it is explicit of how different local contexts produce varying designs based on the user. With the city of Banjarmasin majoring with 96% identifying as Muslim, this has significantly directed the fashion market, and what people choose to wear. The religious and environmental context for the people of Banjarmasin, has guided the fashion market within this location.

For the women of Banjarmasin conservative wear is paramount, with the majority of the women choosing to wear traditional items such as the kurung (traditional scarf) or the jilbab (traditional veil). The women also combine these traditional garments with typically full length trousers and skirts, and full sleeved shirts. Additionally, due to Banjarmasin being a tropical destination, the weather is constantly warm throughout the year, consequently also effecting the fashion market. This heat has led the majority of the clothing in Banjarmasin to be made from cotton due to its breathability properties. Through illuminating the religious and environmental spectrums of this city, it is notable of how understanding local context is necessary for design.

A local Banjarmasin woman wearing the kurung (Raviraj 2018)

However, with the city of Sydney, Australia there is a significant shift in the fashion market when compared to Banjarmasin due to the varying local context. Sydney fashion, though broad with its numerous influences from America and Europe, is described to be practical, informal and casual (Craik 2015). For the people of Sydney, the aesthetic, economical, environmental and functional attributes depict their clothing of choice. The fashion market within Sydney comprises of a range of styles but all within the constraints of shirts, pants, dresses and outerwear. The weather in Sydney, unlike Banjarmasin, ranges through out the year, which has significantly impacted what users choose to wear, thus directing the market to correlate with weather seasons (Craik 2015).

Through comparing the fashion market between Sydney and Banjarmasin, it is explicit of how local context significantly impacts a design. In order for a design to be successful, it is necessary for the designer to analyse the local context for which the design is to be situated in, as it will greatly influence how the design is received by the user and how it is used.


Craik, J. 2009, ‘Is Asutralian Fashion and Dress Distinctively Australian?’, Fashion Theory, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 409-441

Heskett, J. 2005, Design: a very short introduction, Oxford University Press, England.

Jones, C. 2007, ‘Fashion and Faith in Urban Indonesia’, Fashion Theory, vol. 11, no. 2, pp.211-231

POST A: Designing for local contexts through primary research

As designers, we do not only carry the responsibility to design for functional and aesthetic purposes, we also bear the weight of developing solutions that respect the contexts we are designing for. To do so, we must realise that “We individually and collectively make the city through our daily actions and our political, intellectual and economic engagements. But, in return, the city makes us” (Harvey 2003) and thus it is our duty to immerse ourselves into the culture and its traditions to gain a holistic understanding. ‘The city’ in this case, refers to Banjarmasin, Indonesia, the capital of South Kalimantan and otherwise known as the ‘River City’ or ‘City of a Thousand Rivers’.

When placing Indonesia’s social and political contexts under a microscope, it is revealed that each island has a unique identity that has “an aura of beauty, sensuality, chaos and violence” (McDonald 2014) as it is an archipelago. Through observing Banjarmasin and the way local inhabitants moved amongst its urban spaces, it became apparent that designing successfully for different contexts requires “cultural competence and awareness” and “[breaking] free of culturally bound positions” (Piper 2008). This can be achieved by conducting primary research through interacting with local inhabitants and exposing oneself to local events and traditions; both of which provide experiences that secondary research cannot.

Through observing the interactions between local market vendors and tourists in Banjarmasin, it was revealed that it is not only the physical urban landscape that shapes a city’s charm, it is the people that inhabit the space. Their determination to take pictures with bule (Piper 2008) highlighted that Banjarmasin was a city untouched by tourism, rather, it was a city that was embedded in its traditions. This ultimately impacts the design process as it must be ensured that the local people and their traditions are respected. As designers originating from a different context, this may prove to be challenging as it may defy our own values and cultures. Hence, it is crucial that we undertake primary research that allows us to immerse ourselves in the culture practically.

Local market vendor at Banjarmasin’s traditional markets (San 2018)
Local traditional markets in Banjarmasin (San 2018)

An example of this is was our visit to the local floating markets, an iconic part of Banjarmasin’s identity. In interacting with the women in the boats selling locally grown produce, the status of women in Banjarmasin was observed and realised. While the typical ideology of ‘the good wife and mother’ (Robinson & Bessell 2002, p.69) continues to exist in Banjarmasin, witnessing women operating the floating markets is a testament to the changing roles of women in Indonesia overall. Such realisations are detrimental to designing for the local people and could not have been realised without engaging in local traditions.

Pasar Terapung – Banjarmasin’s floating markets (San 2018)
Women of Pasar Terapung (San 2018)

There is no ‘correct’ answer for what design means for local contexts however it is apparent that they are shaped by the people who inhabit the space we are designing for. Ultimately, the role of a designer is not limited to developing a solution to a problem, instead it requires understanding the context they are designing for through interaction with local inhabitants and participation in local traditions. This fills the void that is left behind by secondary research and ensures that what is produced satisfies the people utilising the local space.


Harvey, D. 2003, ‘The Right to the City’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 27, no. 4, pp.939-941.

McDonald, H. 2014, Demokrasi: Indonesia in the 21st Century, Black Inc, Collingwood, Victoria.

Piper, S. 2008, gang re:Publik Indonesia-australia creative adventures, Gang Festival Inc. Newtown.

Robinson, K. & Bessell, S. 2002, Women in Indonesia: Gender, Equity and Development, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, viewed 31 January, <>

San, W. 2018, Local market vendor at Banjarmasin’s traditional markets.

San, W. 2018, Local traditional markets in Banjarmasin.

San, W. 2018, Pasar Terapung – Banjarmasin’s floating markets.

San, W. 2018, Women of Pasar Terapung.

POST A: The expressive typography of Banjarmasin

Walking down the streets in Banjarmasin is much like many other cities across the globe, as letters push their way into your eyesight, informing you of street names, food on sales and characteristic of Indonesia, cigarettes being sold. Due to the restrictions placed on imagery allowed on cigarette advertising in Indonesia, (Kharisma Rasa Indonesia, 2007) many rely heavily on eye-catching typography to communicate their message with display fonts and bold colours that scream their masculine ideals of a smoker to their audience (refer to figure 1). The many manifestations of type across Banjarmasin, from the colourful and hastily hand-made signs that adorn street vendors’ carts to the large-format digital prints above stores, type and design exemplify the “ubiquitous consumerism” of Banjarmasin and by extension Indonesia (Crosby, 2016).


Figure 1. San, W, 2018

Moreover, type serves to denote the different purposes of areas in the city, as residential streets feature an archway at their entrances with the street name, each one individual and full of character (refer to figure 2). Elements such as these serve to exemplify the vibrant and chaotic character of Banjarmasin, with pops of colour and the nature of both type and design within the city, contrasting the often sterile and corporate focused design present in other larger, more cosmopolitan cities such as Sydney. In this manner, the expressive and hand-generated nature of type in Banjarmasin reflects the context in which it was made, on the semi-isolated island of Borneo, with both different and more limited resources.


Figure 2. Nguyen, C, 2018

Observing the nature of type in Banjarmasin, it is revealed as acting not only as a means of communication but also informing the relationship between the city and the celebrated river that flows through it. Various examples of type are found along the riverside, primarily with a focus on celebrating Banjarmasin and its unique identity. The way in which type integrates with both the river and the public spaces constructed around it (refer to Figure 3), such as Menara Pendang serve to reflect Sheppard and Lynn’s analysis of cities and how the combination of the artificial and natural elements of a city occur together in a state of “uneasy coexistence” (Sheppard, Lynn, ).


Figure 3. Nguyen, C, 2018

Conclusively, typography in Banjarmasin is a complex mixture of purpose, materiality and character that reflects not only the context of the city but also contributes to the larger discourse between design and public space and identity.


Crosby, A, 2016. Designing Futures in Indonesia, UTS ePress, Vol. 13, No. 2, July 2016. Viewed 1 February 2018,

Kharisma Rasa Indonesia 2007, That Charismatic Indonesian Feeling’: Cigarette Billboard advertising in the city of Yogyakarta

Sheppard, E, Lynn, W.S, 2004, Patterned ground: entanglements of nature and culture. Reakton Press, London.

Tariq, Q, 2015, Indonesian veteran artist AD Pirous’ work shines at his first Kuala Lumpur exhibition in 12 years. The Star, viewed 1 February 2018,

Cover Image: Nguyen, C, 2018

POST A: How does local context and cultural sensitive shape design?

Design is shaped by the needs, desires, cultural customs, religions and ideologies that determine a local context. This was recently brought to my attention when I had to redesign an appropriate method to write text on the forearms of people in Banjarmasin, Indonesia. The design was resolved through the utilisation of hijab arm covers, due the predominantly Muslim population. The design of female clothing in Indonesia must consider these needs and embody religious practices and the liberation, justice and freedom, (The Conversation, 2017) that Indonesian Muslim women recently want to represent in their choice of clothing. Changes in social and political contexts have occurred through the work of organisations such as the Muslim Women’s agency, which represent a vibrant network of intellectual women that are independent and vocal in their ideologies. This has resulted in differing fashion and textiles design and has recently become a rapidly growing industry.

Design is shaped by local context and this is clear when looking at the work of Dian Pelangi, a young Indonesian fashion designer who collections comprise of hijabs, culturally sensitive design and traditional batik patterns. These designs embody the needs, desires, cultural customs, religions and ideologies of the local context. When her designs were showcased at Jakarta Fashion Week people from outside this local context were able to understand how her experiences and surroundings have shapes her design practice. This can also be said for Restu Anggraini, who is a designer “known for her contemporary, modern, clean and modest designs” (A.W. Wibowo, 2017)  according to Indonesia Tatler. In 2016 she represented Indonesia at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival. This same event featured contemporary Australian Aboriginal designers, that represent their indigenous culture and conceptualise their local context. The colours and motifs represented the stories of the dreamtime and captured the history and present of Indigenous culture.This one event gave distinctly different designers, from distinctly different local contexts, the opportunity to showcase their needs, desires, cultural customs, religions and ideologies. One of the designers were Cynthia Vogler, whose work features printed skirts created through mixes of her own dyes. Similarly to Restu Anggraini, she utilizes batik dyeing techniques a process, involving using hot wax to block out sections of the fabric before it is embedment into the dye.

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 12.37.11 PM
Restu Anggraini’s designs Indonesia Tatler, 2017, Ramadan Fashion: 8 Indonesian Muslim Fashion Designers In The Spotlight, viewed 25 January 2018,
Cynthia Vogler (right) and her daughter wearing her designs (left) K. Vlasic, 2015, Cairns emerging fashion designer Cynthia Vogler experiments with printing techniques with amazing results, viewed 25 January 2018,

Both of these designers utilize similar manufacturing processes and means of abstracting inspiration for the design of their motifs, however both women are from different local contexts. Across the world design reveals similarity, as we gather inspiration and knowledge from one and other, however design also reveals distinctive contrasts that showcase our differences. It is clear how their personal understandings translate into their designs and how by learning about their backgrounds, we are able to see how design is truly shaped by local context.

Reference List

A.R. Beta, 2014, ‘Hijabers: How young urban muslim women redefine themselves in Indonesia’ International Communication Gazette, Vol.76, iss.4-5, pp.377-389.

E.F. Amrullah, 2008, ‘Indonesian Muslim Fashion Styles & Designs’, ISIM Review, vol. 22, pp 22-23.

Indonesia Tatler, 2017, Ramadan Fashion: 8 Indonesian Muslim Fashion Designers In The Spotlight, viewed 25 January 2018,

N.Hossain, R.Nurbani, V.Utari, W.Suharyo, ‘Social, economic and political context in Indonesia’, Interactions Eldis, viewed 25 January 2018,

The Culture Concept Circle, 2016, Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival- Indigenous Art, viewed 25 January 2018,

The Conversation, 2017, Indonesian Muslim women engage with feminism, viewed 25 January 2018,


POST A: Design in Contexts

Too often design processes are separated from insights into the use of the designed artifact, and even designers themselves may use models and concepts that focus on the artifact without paying attention to the context in which the artifact is used. To address the issue, it’s important to understand the context and use complementary perspectives (Kyng & Mathiassen, 1997) to develop a better perception of the situation and come up with useful solutions.

With the rapid growth of technology, the smartphone has largely fulfilled most people’s needs for telephone, camera, media player, etc., and it has become indispensable in people’s lives. The iOS and Android are considered to be the most popular operating systems globally; together, they have created a duopoly and account for more than 99% (Moon Technolabs, 2017) in smartphone sales. However, Android has a more market share in developing nations like Asia and Africa while iOS leads the market in developed countries like US, Australia, Europe, etc.

Geography Distribution
Geography Distribution of Android and iOS (Moon Technolabs, 2017)

Thus, to build an app for an operating system, the designer needs to consider the context in which it will be used; and identify user needs and preference to deliver ‘native’ (Babentsov, 2017) user experience as users have a fixed understanding of the UX pattern on a particular platform.

The billboard project of ‘The Hidden Voices of Banjarmasin’ created by Group Durian that is designed in WhatsApp’s Android interface. The context of smartphones in Indonesia is dominated by the Android operating system, which shares 88.37% of the market (Statista, 2017). Designing billboard in Android interface would trigger audience’s emotional responses more effectively because people are more familiar with the system.


Billboard Project ‘The Hidden Voices of Banjarmasin’ (Group Durian, 2018)


Contrasty, in the US, Messenger is rated as one of the most popular social media as it conveniently connects with Facebook as well as local contacts. The billboard could be designed in Messenger’s iOS interface as a metaphor to communicate and resonate with audiences.

Design is making sense (of things). It can be read as design is a sense creating activity (Krippendorff, 1989) that is recognisable and understandable. Be aware of the local context, designer can effectively minimise the failures and straightforwardly convince audience. Various approaches and solutions are shaped by contexts to reduce conflicts and enhance user experience.


Babentsov, 2017, ANDROID VS. IOS: UI/UX DIFFERENCES, Luanapps, viewed 31 Jan 2018,

Group Durian, 2018, The Hidden Voices of Banjarmasin, WordPress, viewed 31 Jan 2018,

Krippendorff, 1989, On the Essential Contexts of Artifacts or on the Proposition That “Design Is Making Sense (Of Things)”, JSTOR, viewed 31 Jan 2018,

Kyng, M. & Mathiassen, L. 1997, Computers and Design in Context, GoogleBooks, viewed 31 Jan 2018,

Moon Technolabs, 2017, Apple Vs Android — A comparative study 2017, AndroidPub, viewed 31 Jan 2018,

Statista, 2017, Market share of mobile operating systems in Indonesia from January 2012 to December 2017, viewed 31 Jan 2018,