POST A: Shapeness of Design

I was fascinated with the reading of Sidelines: writing for tempo in which the author G. Mohamad referenced the sarong as a design that is shifting its purpose. What I found fascinating was the the way the sarong had a strong social use, however slowly dying in a modernised world. This lead to my understanding why a particular design such as the sarong can be shaped differently overtime by its’ local context. I was also able to find relationships with the notion of the sarong to that of other ideas shaped by differing situations.

The sarong according to Mohamad (1994) is a technological invention that has countless use. In Indonesia, it is worn as part of a ceremonial dress, used as a blanket, can be worn as a mask and used as a container to carry books. However its’ use have shifted as a result of experiences in a culture changing social relationships (Mohamad 1994). What was once an article of both elegance and casual is now becoming private. Mohamad later implies the sarong as a symbol of indigenous that is fading and something that is well suited to the environment however threatened by modernisation.

In a historical context, according to Mohamad dress such as the sarong is a history of conflict between culture and politics. In Indonesia, the sarong has become a socio-cultural article in a time of flux. In contrast, these ideas can be further supported to that of the punk activists in Indonesia. The punk scene can be regarded as a response to the brutal dictatorship of Suharto. The ideas of punk was seen as a gateway drug: a portal to countercultural ideas and radical politics (Munn 2014). The ideology of punk is considered dependent on everyday struggles which remains a threat to established power. Just as the use of sarongs were an indication of change in the social scene, punk however can be regarded as an agency for change. Both in comparison have a notion of being shaped by its local context.

Another perfect example is transparent in Crosby’s Remixing environmentalism in Blora, Central Java 2005–10. The need to form environment movement  in the likes of the punk activist can be seen vital as it needed to raise voice and make representations. In this instance identities were needed which resulted in activist groups forming Rapala, anakseribupulau and SuperSamin Inc. as they were confronted with issues involving corruption, gang violence, timber theft and plans for development. Overall these groups were formed as a result of inter-related social and ecological issues (Crosby 2013).

The overall shapeness of design is all determined by the issues of its context. The sarong for example had seen its initial use fading overtime due to a change in social relationship. Others with the formation of punk was seen as a form of resistance. While environment activists including Rapala, anakseribupulau and SuperSamin Inc. were formed to make representations against confronting social and ecological issues.


  • Mohamad, G. 1994, Sidelines : writings from Tempo, electronic book, Hyland House and Monash Asia Institute, Monash University

One thought on “POST A: Shapeness of Design

  1. The connection you outline between the design and its context (using the Sarong Example is really interesting as it embodies not only its present context but a historical context as well). You portray very clearly that as the environment changes, the need for the design changes too.

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