Post A: Being a Creative Chameleon

An unfamiliar location is an undoubtedly challenging work environment, and requires designers to be flexible, open-minded and logical. Instead of the designer being in complete control and “starting from scratch”, the context should shape the design. Utilising social, economic, environmental and political influences ensure that it will seamlessly blend with the context. According to Keinonen, recognizing the point of view of an insider and ‘enabling people to create meaningful solutions for themselves’ [2009] is a key factor in successful design. So perhaps it is less about giving people what they want or think they need, and more about paving the path for them to discover it by engaging with their own environment or community.

Designers often form restrictive thought patterns of imagining themselves as end users, which overlooks ‘demographic, educational and socio-cultural differences’ [Oygur and Nancy 2010]. In fact, there are a variety of different methods to engage with user groups outside of their experience which can significantly benefit the design process. In my time in Banjarmasin, I found it crucial to properly orientate myself with the city, taking initiative to go on a many exploratory ventures as possible and attempt to communicate with the locals. This environment was starkly different to what I was used to, so I made it my goal to research and fully understand how locals went about their everyday life. This was out of my comfort zone, so I found myself needing to constantly reevaluate and acquire more information.

Interdiscinplinary thinking is fundamental for successful design in different contexts, as it allows for broader scope and more thorough investigation. The ‘inherent complexity of nature and society’ is one of the four powerful drivers of this kind of thinking, as proposed by Bammer [2013]. A desire to explore unfamiliar cultural phenomena is an essential tool, as was discovered during the derives and map-making exercises. Having three different disciplines within our group gave us an advantage, as we were able to use business thinking and the logic of product design to combine with aesthetic knowledge. We needed to apply our skills and lateral thinking to create effective solutions for a new client in a vastly different city.

(Australian Curriculum, 2017)

It is no surprise that ‘situational factors can exert a strong effect on human behavior’ [Morgeson, Dierdorff and Hmurovic 2010], which can shape, enable, or constrain the form of a work. In this way, it is imperative for a designer to preserve their values and ethics, even when in challenging circumstances. In Banjarmasin, we helped create an event that allowed the community to interact and play a small part in a bigger societal change. This was a step towards becoming a creative chameleon with globally applicable values and cultural intellect.

IMG_0896 2
The final product (Montesin, 2018)


Morgeson, F., Dierdorff, E. and Hmurovic, J. 2010, Work designin situ: Understanding the role of occupational and organizational context, Journal of Organizational Behavior, vol 31, no 2-3, pp.351-360,.

Oygur, I. and Blossom, N. 2010, Design and the User Experience: The Turkish Context, Design Issues, vol 26, no 4, pp.72-84,.

Keinonen, T. 2009, Immediate and Remote Design of Complex Environments, Design Issues, vol 25, no 2, pp.62-74,.

Bammer, G. 2013, Disciplining Interdisciplinarity, ANU Press, pp. 3-13.

Boat, P. 2018, Designing With the User’s Context in Mind, Shopify. viewed 1 February 2018, <;.

Bowles, C. 2013, Designing with context, Cennydd Bowles. viewed 1 February 2018, <;.

Australian Curriculum 2017, Concepts of interdisciplinary thinking, viewed 1 February 2018, <;.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s