POST A: What does design mean in different contexts? – Karina Smole

Design & Context

Design is strongly shaped through its context – its responsive to the people, culture and issues of its environment. The designer is never focused on a single action within design practice in isolation. There is always a greater influence and intent at work, whether the designer is conscious of this or not. Every individual senses something unique in response to a stimulus…whether its a sound, image, or simply an emotion. A design utilises its context and is often contigent to its context. The design is not purely representational or isolated – the connection of that object with its context becomes vital. It responds to the needs of the people and environment it exists within ( Roderiguez, D. 2010 )the materials and the platforms for the design are part of this local context. It is also the broader connection with culture and history that becomes the context for the design.

Indonesia has always had a strong visual and artisanal culture – from Batik fabrics to traditional crafts and architecture. This tradiitonal context for design was firmly enforced under the Dictatorship, however naturally, the yearning for more contemporary culture and new ideas grew increasingly stronger. The context of design in Indonesia was changing – external world influences were influencing the culture, new technology and new ways of thinking, and therefore designs responded differently to this new environment.  The presence and discussion around design entered less formal spaces of galleries and museums to alternative spaces of cafes. (Jakarta Post 2012) Towards the 21st century cities were expanding, people were moving and continue to urbanise, presenting a multitude of new and different issues for designs to respond to. Issues such as pollution, over-crowding, insufficient transport systems, multi-culturalism and globaisation require different design solutions. As the context of Indonesia changes, design must respond to this change.

A very contemporary example of design in Indonesia that is highly contextual is the newly designed space ‘The Playroom’ (Indonesia Design, 2015) which provides a hollistic entertainment venue as traffic conditions are so congested its too difficult for people in the area to travel to the mroe entertainment centric areas further away. The design is both sophisticated yet cartoonish, and is intended to provide patrons with nostaliga to their own childhood – visuals and sentiments which are highly tied to their local context. (Indonesia Design, 2015) Design is constantly responding to the people and their changing desires and needs. In Indonesia the blurring of lines between the country and city contexts as well as the influences of globalisation on society result in a rapidly changing context, where design can lead certain lifestyles and behaviours directly.

Indonesia Design, 2015, All Fun and Games at the Playroom, Indonesia, viewed 21 April 2015, <;

Roderiguez, D. 2010, ‘Why Design Matters’, Business Week, 01 February, viewed 25 April 2015, <;

The Jakarta Post 2012, Arts Collective Evolution, Jakarta, Indonesia, viewed 29 April 2015,  <;IMG_0426-300x200

‘The Playroom’, (Indonesia Design, 2015)

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