POST A: How does local context and cultural sensitive shape design?

Design is shaped by the needs, desires, cultural customs, religions and ideologies that determine a local context. This was recently brought to my attention when I had to redesign an appropriate method to write text on the forearms of people in Banjarmasin, Indonesia. The design was resolved through the utilisation of hijab arm covers, due the predominantly Muslim population. The design of female clothing in Indonesia must consider these needs and embody religious practices and the liberation, justice and freedom, (The Conversation, 2017) that Indonesian Muslim women recently want to represent in their choice of clothing. Changes in social and political contexts have occurred through the work of organisations such as the Muslim Women’s agency, which represent a vibrant network of intellectual women that are independent and vocal in their ideologies. This has resulted in differing fashion and textiles design and has recently become a rapidly growing industry.

Design is shaped by local context and this is clear when looking at the work of Dian Pelangi, a young Indonesian fashion designer who collections comprise of hijabs, culturally sensitive design and traditional batik patterns. These designs embody the needs, desires, cultural customs, religions and ideologies of the local context. When her designs were showcased at Jakarta Fashion Week people from outside this local context were able to understand how her experiences and surroundings have shapes her design practice. This can also be said for Restu Anggraini, who is a designer “known for her contemporary, modern, clean and modest designs” (A.W. Wibowo, 2017)  according to Indonesia Tatler. In 2016 she represented Indonesia at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival. This same event featured contemporary Australian Aboriginal designers, that represent their indigenous culture and conceptualise their local context. The colours and motifs represented the stories of the dreamtime and captured the history and present of Indigenous culture.This one event gave distinctly different designers, from distinctly different local contexts, the opportunity to showcase their needs, desires, cultural customs, religions and ideologies. One of the designers were Cynthia Vogler, whose work features printed skirts created through mixes of her own dyes. Similarly to Restu Anggraini, she utilizes batik dyeing techniques a process, involving using hot wax to block out sections of the fabric before it is embedment into the dye.

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 12.37.11 PM
Restu Anggraini’s designs Indonesia Tatler, 2017, Ramadan Fashion: 8 Indonesian Muslim Fashion Designers In The Spotlight, viewed 25 January 2018,
Cynthia Vogler (right) and her daughter wearing her designs (left) K. Vlasic, 2015, Cairns emerging fashion designer Cynthia Vogler experiments with printing techniques with amazing results, viewed 25 January 2018,

Both of these designers utilize similar manufacturing processes and means of abstracting inspiration for the design of their motifs, however both women are from different local contexts. Across the world design reveals similarity, as we gather inspiration and knowledge from one and other, however design also reveals distinctive contrasts that showcase our differences. It is clear how their personal understandings translate into their designs and how by learning about their backgrounds, we are able to see how design is truly shaped by local context.

Reference List

A.R. Beta, 2014, ‘Hijabers: How young urban muslim women redefine themselves in Indonesia’ International Communication Gazette, Vol.76, iss.4-5, pp.377-389.

E.F. Amrullah, 2008, ‘Indonesian Muslim Fashion Styles & Designs’, ISIM Review, vol. 22, pp 22-23.

Indonesia Tatler, 2017, Ramadan Fashion: 8 Indonesian Muslim Fashion Designers In The Spotlight, viewed 25 January 2018,

N.Hossain, R.Nurbani, V.Utari, W.Suharyo, ‘Social, economic and political context in Indonesia’, Interactions Eldis, viewed 25 January 2018,

The Culture Concept Circle, 2016, Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival- Indigenous Art, viewed 25 January 2018,

The Conversation, 2017, Indonesian Muslim women engage with feminism, viewed 25 January 2018,


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