Post A: The importance of local context in design

Design is aimed to be impactful and transformational; a key determinant to our quality of living (Hewkett 2005). This momentous goal is achieved through the designer considering further than just the aesthetic and functional qualities of a design, but rather relishing in the importance of understanding who the design is for and how it relates to the user. The profound understanding of users is only attained through exploring and analsying the social, political and environmental aspects of the user. These spectrums all fall into the user’s local context, thus making an intrinsic link between design and local context.

When comparing the fashion design market between the city of Sydney, Australia and Banjarmasin, Indonesia, it is explicit of how different local contexts produce varying designs based on the user. With the city of Banjarmasin majoring with 96% identifying as Muslim, this has significantly directed the fashion market, and what people choose to wear. The religious and environmental context for the people of Banjarmasin, has guided the fashion market within this location.

For the women of Banjarmasin conservative wear is paramount, with the majority of the women choosing to wear traditional items such as the kurung (traditional scarf) or the jilbab (traditional veil). The women also combine these traditional garments with typically full length trousers and skirts, and full sleeved shirts. Additionally, due to Banjarmasin being a tropical destination, the weather is constantly warm throughout the year, consequently also effecting the fashion market. This heat has led the majority of the clothing in Banjarmasin to be made from cotton due to its breathability properties. Through illuminating the religious and environmental spectrums of this city, it is notable of how understanding local context is necessary for design.

A local Banjarmasin woman wearing the kurung (Raviraj 2018)

However, with the city of Sydney, Australia there is a significant shift in the fashion market when compared to Banjarmasin due to the varying local context. Sydney fashion, though broad with its numerous influences from America and Europe, is described to be practical, informal and casual (Craik 2015). For the people of Sydney, the aesthetic, economical, environmental and functional attributes depict their clothing of choice. The fashion market within Sydney comprises of a range of styles but all within the constraints of shirts, pants, dresses and outerwear. The weather in Sydney, unlike Banjarmasin, ranges through out the year, which has significantly impacted what users choose to wear, thus directing the market to correlate with weather seasons (Craik 2015).

Through comparing the fashion market between Sydney and Banjarmasin, it is explicit of how local context significantly impacts a design. In order for a design to be successful, it is necessary for the designer to analyse the local context for which the design is to be situated in, as it will greatly influence how the design is received by the user and how it is used.


Craik, J. 2009, ‘Is Asutralian Fashion and Dress Distinctively Australian?’, Fashion Theory, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 409-441

Heskett, J. 2005, Design: a very short introduction, Oxford University Press, England.

Jones, C. 2007, ‘Fashion and Faith in Urban Indonesia’, Fashion Theory, vol. 11, no. 2, pp.211-231

2 thoughts on “Post A: The importance of local context in design

  1. This is really interesting to read. You due attentions to the product journey of a design in its context to really make you think about the factors effecting design. This mirrors context so intrinsically. looking at fashion in context of Banjarmasin compared to Sydney, draws a striking parallel on the correlation between context and implication of design in order for it to be successful.

  2. I found this to be an engaging read, as I researched a similar topic. However, you gave me an understanding of both Australian and Indonesian fashion from an aesthetic and functional point of view. By acknowledging the influences that fashion design has and investigating what these influences have on the design factors, a more holistic understanding was developed. I glad to see that you explored the social, political and environmental aspects of the user in order to inform your research. Great effort!

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