Context Defining Design: POST A

What design means will often be directly related to the context in which it is created and presented. There is no clear cut way to explain what design means in every context, making understanding what design is, in its entirety, a difficult task to accomplish for any individual.

From my recent global studio working in Indonesia, I have been exposed to a new perspective on what design is and what it can mean to people, culture, politics and much more. During the festival Matai Air, designers from all over the country had sent in prints they had created that reflected a part of their perspective on the issues to do with waste management and water management within the water catchments in Central Java.  In other contexts this kind of design work may be given different names. This kind of work in Sydney Australia would be seen as Contemporary Visual Arts. A change in context can result in design taking a different form from what an individual coming from a different context may perceive as design.


Design is often undertaken for different reasons in different contexts. Product design within Australia is often done with the goal of creating a profitable business that can produce products that will sell to create this profit. While in Central Java I saw that product design could be undertaken for different reasons. Singgih Kartono is a product designer working in Central Java. He designs his products with the aim of providing skilled work for the people living in local villages as well as aiming to instil a sense of pride in local students, who he thinks should realise that achieving wealth and brand success can be done while living in the villages of Central Java. This kind of product design is very similar to what we can find in Australia; however the motif and goals of the design are drastically different from each other. It is clear that a change in context will not just change the form of design that is produced but can rather change the goals that the design is trying to achieve.

It is clear that from comparing only two contexts of design that there are differences in the way design is physically embodies as well as the reason design in undertaken in the first place.



Sophie Finney, 2016, Intricate Designs: Indonesian Craft Textiles, The Culture Trip, Last viewed 20/3/16, <;

Living in Indonesia, 1997-2016, Practical Information for Expats Living in Indonesia, Jakarta, Last viewed 20/3/16, <;

Siu-Tsen, 2006, Towards Culture Centred Design,Science Direct, London, Last viewed 20/3/16, <;






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