Post A: Design in Context

Design is a product of a designer(s) and their location, time and context. It is the context of a design that shapes its every detail. While on a recent trip to Milan and Venice Italy, we had the opportunity to visit a glass blowing factory on the Venetian island of Murano. Murano now synonymous world wide with ‘Murano glass’ is the result of hundreds of years knowledge and contextually factors shaping this world famous product.

Fig 1: Murano Glass Blowing Factory Visit
Fig 1: Murano Glass Blowing Factory Visit

The location of Venice in the Mediterranean sea has placed it in a prime position for import and export of the raw and final products to and from Europe, in addition to the sharing of knowledge between surround areas. Knowledge of glass making was a closely guarded secret, however a treaty between the head of Venice and Syria allowed knowledge and skill movement  in 1277 (Rasmussen, S.C 2012. p.42). Further to this, in 1204 the forth crusade into Constantinople drove most of the citys glass blower to Venice. Major consolidation of geographically varied knowledge aided the growth and fine tuning of Venetian glass production.

Not only did the location of Venice aid the movement in knowledge, it was also pivotal to the arrival and departure of raw and finish goods into the city. From Syria and Egypt, Soda ash arrive by ship (Rasmussen, S.C 2012. p.45) in addition to ash import from Syria. Further to this, local Silica from Lido and powdered flint rock from inland rivers beds could be easily sourced. (Rasmussen, S.C 2012. p.45). The ash from Syria was quite advantageous, as it was shipped as ballast when raw cotton was also imported (Rasmussen, S.C 2012. p43).

With a secure material supply, the Venetian glass industry continued to grow on the main island of Venice until several furnace eliminated entire city blocks (Rasmussen, S.C 2012. p. 44). In 1291, all glass production was moved from Venice to the Island of Murano. Murano now famous for Murano glass, was a cluster of highly skilled masters on one small island. Once established on the Island in 1376, the government passed a motion to keep all glass master on the Island (essentially prisoners on the island) but where elevated to middle class, with which came special benefits.

Murano glass has developed from a rich history of contextual circumstances, shaping and forming its contemporary identity.


Barovier Mentasti, R. 2003, Glass throughout time :history and technology of glassmaking from the ancient world to the present, Skira, Milan.

Rasmussen, S.C. & SpringerLink 2012, How glass changed the world, Springer, Berlin; New York.

Whitehouse, D. 2012, Glass :a short history, Smithsonian Books, Washington, DC.

Post C: Life in Jakarta

*Please note the interviewees name has been changed for their privacy.

Lisa an Australian born citizen, lived and worked in Indonesia in 1994-1995 on a “one 3 month stint, followed by 2 weeks there, 2 weeks back in Australia for about 6-8 months” (E, L. 2015), based predominantly in Jakarta on the island of Java. While in Indonesia Lisa noticed many contrasting social and cultural values to Australia,

While living in Jakarta Lisa noticed a massive class difference as luxury high rise or mansions where juxtaposed to shanty towns, see fig 1. This was no uncommon occurrence, with shanty towns, high rise and mansions scattered throughout the city. Within the home, it was common to find the middle class having ‘staff’ working for them; completing everyday activities such as cleaning and cooking. Further to the city’s class structure, superiority in the work place was heavily respected; Lisa citing an example of a talkative team that went silent when the boss was near by. Everyone knew their place, respecting their superiors, more than what you would expect in Australia. Like class, jobs in the work place fostered specific rather than multifaceted roles, increasing productivity, as bribery could be directed to the correct person. Class structure infiltrated all aspects of day to day life in Jakarta.

Fig 1: Shanty town juxtaposed with high-rise in Jakarta (Katherine 2013)

Education was highly sort after, offering life opportunity. A first hand example was Lisa’s challenge to practice Bahasa Indonesian, often a new found ‘friend’ (or cling on) wanted to converse in English to build their skills. With more skills and education came superiority and class. Unlike the pursuit of education, time structure was not valued as it is in Australia. Lisa recalling ‘rubber time’, where one hour could be, was it two or even three hours? All workshops in the workplace were conducted in one room with the toilet next door, to prevent the groups evading and stretching the time to their liking.

Perhaps an influence to rubber time where the lengthy travel times in Jakarta, described as “contorted” (E, L. 2015), taking half an hour to drive somewhere that could reached by foot in 5-10 minutes. However, even with a slow travel times, walking was viewed “only for poor people” (E, L. 2015) and that a car should be taken when ever possible. To combat the heavy traffic, a 3 in 1 (3 people in 1 car) was introduced in inner city areas, however this forged the ‘Jockey’. As the name implies this person take a ride. As a passenger for hire they wait outside the inner city limit waiting to jump into your car allowing you to cross the city with no tax in return for a small payment. The Jockeys like the greater people of Indonesia have created opportunity from their dynamic setting, adopting and changing is a way of life.

Fig 2: A typical Jakarta Jockey (Koslay, M. 2015)


E, L. 2015, Interview with E, L about Living in Indonesia, .

Katherine 2013, America is not a “banana republic”: A response to, Katherine and Bruno’s Adventures, viewed May 11 2015, <;.

Koslay, M. 2015, Jockey life in Jakarta, Australian National University, viewed May 12 2015, <;.