Post A: Local Context Shaping Design

I agree to a great extent that design is shaped by a local context, as design in its very nature is a response to a need, needs which are unique to a locations social, political and environmental context. This context thus alters the way in which a design comes about and is shaped, in order for it to fill its needs. If a design does not meet the needs specified by the particular localised social and political contexts, it is unlikely to be a successful or useful design initiative.

In wealthy cities designers are able to explore more avenues and focus on aesthetics as consumers can afford more abstract products, whereas in more remote, lower class areas, designs will tend focus more on the necessities needed to survive. This shows how the intent and end goal of design is shaped by local context, not only the aesthetics. As a very multicultural and multilingual nation, Australian design is shaped quite differently. Not only do we often see signage and advertisements in languages other than English, we also see designs that appear to mimic the visual styles of a variety of other cultures due to the cultural influences and background of the designer themselves.

A example that demonstrates the impact of Indonesia’s multi-faceted contexts on design is their everyday clothing and fashion design, which is shaped by their environmental, religious and cultural contexts. As with any culture, people tend to choose their clothing depending on what is deemed to be socially and culturally acceptable, for example, grown Indonesian men will not wear shorts as this is seen by society as being clothing of young boys, not adults. As Indonesia is 87% Muslim, many women will choose to wear either a traditional scarf (kudung) or a full veil (jilbab), which opens up a niche market for fashion designs in this area. The types of clothing worn is also shaped by religious context, as it is considered more acceptable to wear full lengths pants and skirts, as well as long sleeved tops.

Indonesian women browsing a variety of traditional headscarf designs. (

Due to Indonesia’s tropical climate their average temperatures are around 30 degrees Celsius, resulting in light cotton fabrics being a very popular choice in order to keep cool as it is very breathable and limits sweat and overheating. Indonesian culture is entwined with age-old traditions which contribute to the print and designs of the fabrics used in their fashion design. One of the most common traditional  printing methods is called Batik, which is a technique that uses wax-resist dying. Clothing choice is even shaped by social classes, with most upper class citizens tending to follow western fashion trends, whilst the middle and lower classes generally stick to more traditional, and religion-oriented styles.

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Traditional Indonesian ‘Batik’ Fabrics; these are an extremely popular choice for clothing in Indonesia. (


Chang, J. 2014, Design’s Multicultural Influences, Metropolis Magazine, New York City, USA, viewed April 20 2015, <>.

‘’ 2013, Countries and their Cultures: Indonesia, Advameg, Inc., viewed 20 April 2015, <>.

‘Living in Indonesia’ 2015, Batik, The Traditional Fabric of Indonesia, Expat Website Association, Jakarta, Indonesia, viewed April 20 2015, <>.

Sharpe, J. 2014, Meet Indonesia’s Middle Class,, Sydney, Australia, viewed April 20 2015, <>.

One thought on “Post A: Local Context Shaping Design

  1. Great blog post! I think your focus on fashion design is incredibly relevant to the religious context of Indonesia and you’ve done a clear job of showing this.

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