Post C: To be addicted or not to be.

In Ambon, there is this sense of normalcy amongst the population when it comes to smoking. (Tjahjono, 2017). So normalised that the lines between an addiction, a habit or just culture, was in fact blurred and hard to differ. When investigating the motivation behind smoking, and furthermore to understand Ambonese culture a little better, I met an interesting 23yr old man called Nagieb. He stated almost immediately, that he realised smoking was poison, but that he could not stop. And it was after asking him why – why could he not stop smoking, or why he didn’t want to stop smoking, when he proposed an interesting thought.

“In Indonesia, addiction to smoke is better than an addiction to anything else… Drinking alcohol can affect your head and makes you do dangerous things, and if you gamble you could lose all your money. Smoking is cheap here, and it only hurts you, you can’t lose your family’s money or make your parents sad, and it’s the easiest one to stop.”

“So why don’t you stop?” I prompted.

“Because my choosing to smoke here [in Ambon] is sometimes the only control that we have. Sometimes here, [on this] small island, we have quiet business, and sometimes our family needs food, but we can not control that, we cannot control the money that comes in. But the feeling of [needing to] smoke, we can [satisfy the craving] just by smoking, to feel good. That [is something] we can control.”

It was intriguing to consider this idea of ‘control’. How an addiction ironically has control over an individual’s life, and yet, Nagieb insinuates that he has control over himself through his addiction. So cyclical it becomes ingrained in his culture and consequently – thought of as normal.

Studies have proposed that it is human nature to have an addiction (Addiction Centre, 2016). Ingrained in our evolution, having an addiction, provides the stamina for perfection, or wanting to achieve something greater. It is so commonly found in society that some say it is as simple as having a dream or goal. (Noffs, 2018).

However, it would be naïve to say that addictions are good, or vice versa, when in fact, they come in different strengths. Yes, some could be harmless, but most are toxic –  defined as being the psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a dangerous substance, activity, or thought despite psychological and physical harm (Felman, 2018).

So how do we differentiate?

For Nagieb, understanding why he believed he couldn’t break out of the cycle was heavily determined by his circumstances. There were many times when he said he wish he could quit, but would laugh it off and say that he “couldn’t afford to be depressed” as though there was a larger price to pay if he quit, or that there were richer forms of addiction.

It’s intriguing to think that if we were placed under the same circumstances would we also possess the same addiction, thinking it was just part of our culture?


Addiction Centre. 2016. ‘Replacing one addiction for another’ Delphi Behavioural Health Group. Accessed on the 1st February, 2019


Felman, A. 2018. ‘What is an Addiction?’, Medical News Today. Accessed on the 1st Febrruary, 2019.


Noffs, M. 2018 ‘Why and addiction can be a good habit’, Australian Financial Review. Accessed on the 1st February, 2019.


Theiss, E. 2012. ‘The Grip of Addiction’, the plain dealer, Cleveland. Accessed on the 1st February, 2019.


Tjahjono, T. 2017. ‘How smoking becomes so cool in Indonesia’, Global Indonesian voices. Accessed on the 1st February, 2019.





Post A: It starts with a starfish

When I was little, my parents told me a story about a man who saved starfish. The story would take place on a beach, where there were thousands of starfish swept upon its shore.  This man would walk along the beach, pick up the starfish and throw them back into the ocean. One day, a boy came up to the man. The boy asked why this man bothered to walk along the beach day after day when the effort seemed pointless and futile, there were just too many starfish to save. The man didn’t answer the boy at first, he simply picked up a starfish, threw it back into the ocean, and said “I made a difference to that one.”

Making a difference as a designer can sometimes seem like a daunting task. As designers, we are directed to believe that ‘the client is everything’ and that the consumer or customer will dictate the direction of our designs. But at what point do we as designers gain responsibility?

Take the issue of sustainability or the environment as an example, in a design industry such as fashion, for every tonne of clothing put on the market, over thirty tonnes of waste is produced. (Factor Ten Institute, 2001) Fast fashion, stemmed from our societies need for convenience, is one of the leading causes in our global pollution problem. But can we place all the fault solely on a customer needing the newest trend?

There was an interesting theory proposed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, (both pioneers in sustainable fashion) who believed that the core responsibility of being ecological does not fall upon the consumer, but on the actual design on the product. They believed that “human beings are not destructive parasites… they are creative partners with the earth” (Mcdonough, Braungart, 2013) and if given the opportunity to choose between right and wrong, have the capacity to change – with the help of a designer to catalyse that change.

The Tobacco industry share similarities with this fast fashion epidemic, where both markets are predominantly driven by what a consumer wants, in comparison to what they need. Capital and commercial advertising benefit from this demand and designers are influenced to go with the status quo, and design for the majority. “Design for the market, not for the individual” (Mcdonough, Braungart, 2013) is a common ideology, however, what Braungart explores, is that you can do both.

People respond to design. Change does not necessarily have to mean getting rid of Tobacco completely, but if given the opportunity, designers can shape the way consumers perceive Tobacco. The measure of success should not be determined by comparing it to the bigger picture, but by focusing on one issue at a time.

It’s not about saving the entire beach, but just by making a difference to one starfish.



Dempsey, S. & Taylor, C. 2017. ‘Designing Ethics: Shifting ethical understanding in design’, Smashing Magazine, Design and Development. [Online] [Accessed 1st February 2019] Available from <;

Factor Ten Institute. 2001. ‘Theses for Sustainability in Europe’ [Online] [Accessed 1st February 2019] Available from <;

Freestone, O. M. & McGoldrick, P. J. 2008. ‘Motivations of the Ethical Consumer’, Journal of Buisness Ethics, Volume 79, Issue 4, pp 445–467. [Online] [Accessed 1st February 2019] Available from <;

McDonough, W. & Braungart, M. 2013. ‘The Upcylcle’. Beyond Sustainability. New York, North Point Press [Online] [Accessed 1st February 2019] Available from <;


POST A: Designing for Culture Jamming, Convenience and Social Change

Every year more than 225700 people in Indonesia are killed by tobacco-caused diseases and around 148705 tonnes of butts and packs wind up as toxic trash (Tobacco Atlas 2019). Despite this statistic, Big Tobacco is still an empire in Indonesia and it’s because of the way culture jamming and convenience have been designed around smoking. This can be compared to the red meat industry in Australia in the table below:

Tobacco in Indonesia
Red Meat in Australia
Health Issues
Every year more than 225700 people in Indonesia are killed by tobacco-caused diseases.
More than half the Australian population is overweight or obese and diet-related illnesses such as some cancers, type-2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke are amongst our biggest killers (Sustainable Table n.d.) Australian consumers are eating more than four times the amount of beef and veal and six times the amount of sheep and mutton when compared to global consumption averages (Ernst & Young 2017).
Environmental Issue
148705 tonnes of butts and packs wind up as toxic trash (Tobacco Atlas 2019).
Refer to Figure 1: Environmental Inputs and Outputs of Our Food System
Ergonomically, the cigarette packaging has a compact design which allows the smoker to store it in their pocket easily. The lid is also reusable and due to policy, the warning label only covers 40% of the box (Tobacco Control Laws 2019). Cigarettes are very easily accessible and most shop owners ignore the under 18 rule because punishments aren’t enforced which makes cigarettes a convenient product (2019, pers. comm., 20 Jan).
Meat companies advertise convenience and ease along with catchy slogans like ‘Put Some Pork on Your Fork’, ‘You’ll Never Lamb Alone’ and ‘Australia Beef the Greatest’ (Meat and Livestock Australia 2019). The design of ad (figure 2), makes meat seem like it is easy and quick to cook but also is an example of food porn which can induce salivation, not to mention the release of digestive juices as the gut prepares for what is about to come (The Guardian 2017).
Society and Culture
Socially, as discussed in my blog Smoke, Eat, Drink, Repeat, the design of advertisements, slogans and campaigns have created a culture where smoking it the norm and men feel and identify themselves as strong and masculine when they smoke.
Like smoking, the culture around eating red meat is the real issue. Historically, meat has always been associated with men. In evolutionary times and in many hunter-gatherer societies, it’s a male’s responsibility to hunt for food. In the West, it’s often considered to be a ‘man’s job’ to cook a barbecue (Noone 2018).


Inputs and Outputs.png
Figure 1: (Environmental Inputs and Outputs of Our Food System n.d.)

Figure 2: (Meat and Livestock Australia 2018)

Thus, both smoking and eating meat are behaviours majorly influenced by cultural norms and associations with masculinity, brought about through marketing schemes and campaigns.

So with an issue so complex, how can designers be an ethical influence and an agent for change through design activism? In terms of working with other stakeholders, there is a hierarchy when it comes to the involvement of the designer (Paton & Dorst 2010). The most ideal way a designer can contribute is if they take on the ‘collaborator’ role (figure 3) at the beginning stages. This is because the designer has the most involvement and therefore a thorough understanding of the design problem, journey and solution and then may result in a greater outcome.

Figure 3: (Briefing Modes 2010)

The aim of reframing during briefing is so that both parties negotiate a mutually apprehended frame that is actionable. This may involve initial meetings, research and identifying what the client actually wants rather than what they say or think they want. There are strategies that help the designer find this. This includes asking questions involving soft skills and identifying specifics. Dialogue is essential in opening up clients’ perspectives and introducing them to ideas that weren’t considered before (Paton 2010). This can help remove the barriers (figure 4). Other barriers may include different ideas about the budget, time restrictions and/or extent of knowledge about the subject.

Figure 3: (Barriers and Enablers during Briefing 2010)

In terms of designing for social change, by identifying the target behaviours, designers can then extract the attitudes behind them and then the values that influence those attitudes. Effective designers will target values that people are more willing to respond to, based on their intrinsic, benevolence, universalism and self-directed values within their culture (Schwartz 2012). Different people have different values, thus, may be triggered by only a specific designs. For example, in Indonesia, tobacco health warnings will not be effective on people that believe tobacco makes you a strong man. However, if a husband valued honouring his wife and she told him not to smoke, then this may be a more effective way of designing for behaviour change. If one valued convienience over environmental impacts, then a campaign about global warming won’t stop that person from reducing their meat intake. Thus, it’s important to conduct extensive primary and secondary research in order to find the target behaviours, attitudes and values.

Overall, it’s the designers choice whether or not to be involved in a project. They can decide whether their morals line up with the ethical impacts. When it come to tackling culture jamming, as evident with Big Tobacco and the Red Meat Industry, designers must collaborate with partner stakeholders, research and continue to iterate throughout, in order to be an effective agent for change through design activism.



Ernst & Young 2017, State of the Industry Report: The Australian Red Meat and Livestock Industry, Meat and Livestock Australia, Sydney, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Meat and Live Stock Australia 2019, Beef Campaigns, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Noone, Y. 2018, What your meat-eating habits say about your desired social class, SBS, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Paton & Dorst 2010, Briefing and Reframing, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Schwartz, H. 2012, ‘An Overview of the Schwartz Theory of Basic Values’, Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, viewed 1 February 2019, <;.
Sustainable Table n.d., Meat the Issues – Enviro + Health Impacts of Our Food System, Clifton Hill, viewed 1 February 2019 <.>.
The Guardian 2017, From Instagram to TV ads, what’s the science behind food porn?, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Tobacco Atlas 2019, Indonesia, American Cancer Society, Inc. & Vital Strategies, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.
Tobacco Control Laws 2019, Introduction, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Washington DC, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

Post A: There Is No Ethical Design Under Capitalism

Design as a philosophy of creating solutions has a chance to be benevolent when combined with human-centric values. However, in our profit-centred world, design is used in the marketing realm to influence consumer decisions, sometimes in ways that are potentially harmful (Beverland, Gemser & Karpen 2017, p. 161). The role of design in promoting harmful products like tobacco in Indonesia, and skin whitening products in India, involves graphics that tap in to the collective subconscious of a culture, manipulating the perceived value between the products to bring about social success (Reynolds 1999, p. 85) (Shroff, Diedrichs & Craddock 2018, p. 1).

With tobacco advertising in Indonesia, the consumers buy in to an idealised lifestyle of masculine dominance. Advertisements will typically display images of stereotyped masculinity combined with a daring slogan that evokes a sense of autonomous power- “Be Bold”, “Go Ahead”, or in the example of Surya Pro- “Never Quit” (Reynolds 1999, p. 85-86).

Tobacco Company ‘Surya’ Advertisement (Grenville 2018)

Not only is this advertisement selling a highly harmful and addictive product, the ethical ramifications also lie in how it frames attempts at quitting as giving up- a very ‘unmanly’ trait.

Designing a readily consumed social narrative is comparable to the $US 450-535 million skin whitening industry in India, selling products which often contain damaging ingredients. A link between fair skin and success is perpetrated by advertisements digging into insecurities of darker women, wrought by caste dogmas and exacerbated by two centuries of colonialism (Shroff, Diedrichs & Craddock 2018, p. 2).

‘Fair and Lovely’ – India’s leading fairness cream (Chaudhari 2017)

The design of the advertisement portrays a confident woman staring out at her audience, bathed in sterile white and feminine pink to declare- this is what a successful and professional woman in India looks like. Referring to the product as a ‘treatment’ implies that dark skin is an abnormal condition that needs to be treated.

These multi-million dollar industries rely on reinforcing gender stereotypes through design to sell unethical products, but what about design as a tool for social activism?

In a 2014 feminist campaign by Elle UK Magazine and the Fawcett Society, celebrities such as Benedict Cumberbatch championed ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirts- a seemingly empowering use of design (Katebi n.d.).

Benedict Cumberbatch sporting a ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirt (ELLEUK Twitter 2014)

However, it was revealed that the Mauritius women manufacturing the t-shirts in sweatshops were exploited for a profit (Katebi n.d.). How could these shirts stand as a symbol of female empowerment, when the capitalist constructs they arose from were inherently disempowering?

This incident kindled the popularity of left-wing discourse across Tumblr and Twitter, with the phrase “There is no ethical consumption under capitalism” (Weedwacker 2015).

Since design and consumption go hand in hand, perhaps there can be no ethical design under capitalism either.

Reference List

Beverland, M. B., Gemser, G & Karpen, O. I. 2017, ‘Design, consumption and marketing: outcomes, process, philosophy and future directions’, Journal of Marketing Management, vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 159-172.

Katebi, H. n.d, ‘This is what a feminist looks like. The feminist shirt controversy‘, Conscious Magazine,  viewed 31 January 2019,  <>.

Reynolds, C. 1999, ‘Tobacco advertising in Indonesia: “the defining characteristics for success” ‘, Tobacco Control, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 85-88.

Shroff, H., Diedrichs, P. C. & Craddock, N. 2018, ‘Skin colour, cultural capital, and beauty products: An investigation of the use of skin fairness products in Mumbai, India’, Frontiers in Public Health, vol. 5, no. 365, pp. 1-9.

Weedwacker 2015, ‘Where does “there is no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism” come from?’, Reddit thread, 11 August, viewed 29 January 2019, <>.


Chaudhari, D. 2017, Fair and Lovely Advertisement, Feminism in India, viewed 30 January 2019, <>.

Grenville, S. 2018, Surya Pro Advertisement, Lowy Institute, viewed 30 January 2019,  <>.

ELLEUK Twitter 2014, Benedict Cumberbatch This Is What  A Feminist Looks Like, Conscious Magazine, viewed 31 January 2019, <>.

Post C: The ingrained culture of Tobacco

As I walked through the bustling narrow alleyways of Ambon I couldn’t help but gain a whiff of the smoke filling the air, a smell that reminded me of the crowed outdoor areas of the Sydney pubs. But this wasn’t a pub with areas secluding the smokers from the non, this was the streets, outside a school with the smoke being breathed out by boys only a few years younger than myself. It’s hard to say that I wasn’t too surprised because I knew people my age who smoked, even tried it myself before, and we had come from a background who were educated from birth of the dangers of smoking. So, if I had tried, if people I knew continued to do, what chance did the boys of Ambon have when it came to saying no to smoking.

I spoke to Andreano, a 27-year-old Government worker who I met whilst painting the mural. He and most the Ambonese Running group were non-smokers and were happy to share his insight into the culture of Tobacco that surrounds him. He told me most people start smoking in school, males who feel not only pressure from society and culture but direct pressure from their peers. “Often someone who doesn’t smoke can be bullied and questioned about their sexual orientation simply because they don’t want to try,” Andreano told me, stating “I got bullied for this when I was in High School”. This echoed the masculinity pulls Tobacco companies used to advertise to young Indonesian males, as it is clear that people who don’t smoke are seen as some sort of outcast. Although he himself tried smoking due to the peer pressure, he never liked the taste, but it is easy to see why so many young people begin in the first place. He told me that the smokers he knew were aware of the health consequences but didn’t care and live by telling themselves “all humans will eventually die, just enjoy your life”. It unfortunately becomes obvious that smoking is heavily driven by deeply ingrained views and peer pressure, with a Health Education Research Report documenting comments from two Indonesian boys says “If I don’t Smoke, I’m not a real man” and “If I don’t smoke, I will feel inferior to my friends, because I’m the only one who doesn’t smoke” (Ng, Weinehall, et al 2007).

This made me think and compare to Australia, the drinking culture of beer amongst males and why we even do it. I’d never felt the direct pressure like Andreano talked about, but there was always this subtle sense that a drinking culture was ingrained in our DNA. Canadian Club’s ‘Over Beer? The Big question’ campaign highlights this exact point, a clever ad that asks the questions “Why do you even drink beer?” (Canadian Club Australia 2017, 0:09) to which a range of responses such as “Big Terry drinks it” (Canadian Club Australia 2017, 0:11) and “I only drink it because my dad drank it” (Canadian Club Australia 2017, 0:20) are raised.

Despite Ambon and Australia having vastly different cultures, I found this comparison to ring home for me, a sense that these bad habits are deeply drilled into the way of life. Andreano couldn’t find a concrete answer of why people smoked but simply said it was “part of Ambonese culture”, just as I had come to feel that maybe drinking was a small part of mine.



Canadian Club Australian 2017, Over beer? – The Big Question, video recording, YouTube, viewed 1 February 2019, <>

Ng, N, Weinehall, L, et al. 2007, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking, Health Education Research, Volume 22, Issue 6, Pages 794–804 viewed 1 February 2019, <> 

Roche, A, Bywood, P, et al. 2015, The Social Context of Alcohol Use in Australia, Australia’s National Research Centre (NCETA), viewed 1 February 2019, <>



Post A: Is the Designer Simply doing their job; The Ethical Dilemma of the Designer in the Tobacco Industry

“Design is one of the most powerful forces in our lives, whether or not we are aware of it, and can also be inspiring, empowering and enlightening” (Rawsthorn 2014). This quote from Alice Rawsthorn, design critic for The International New York Times, epitomises the power designers hold when influencing the minds of consumers, and this influence is no doubt seen within the Tobacco Industry in Indonesia. The large ads, motivating slogans and encapsulating imagery fill the streets contributing to the 76% of Indonesian Males (15+) who smoke (Tobacco Atlas 2015), as the ads have a clear target of “Young Masculinity” (Nichter, Padmawati, et al. 2008). The ruthlessness of these advertisements brings into question, ‘Is this deemed as successful design?’ As absurd as that question is, the designers and marketers behind these campaigns are being extremely successful in making their product desirable to their target audience and isn’t that the goal of designers, advertisers and businesses alike in all industries? And although the ethics of these designers is pulled into question due to their promotion of sin goods, particularly to a younger audience, it becomes important to consider other industries to help gain an understanding of whether it’s simply a designer doing their job well, or does the “empowering” nature that is design negate a greater responsibility needs to be placed on the designers.

Look at the junk food industry within western society, an industry that at first glance seems very different to that of the Indonesian tobacco industry but holds quite a few similarities, particularly within the design and advertising. Both have a strong target of the younger generation, with fast-food outlets like McDonald’s using characters and toys to draw in younger consumers. Both hold dire health risks, with the World Health Organisation labelling “childhood obesity as one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century” (WHO 2010) and a reported 63% of Australian adults being considered overweight or Obese in 2015 (ABS 2015). Both saturate the landscape, both physically and online with advertisements. Thaichon and Quach described the fast-food industry as “succeeding in using marketing communications to change attitudes, perceptions and perceived norms associated with unhealthy food” (2015), and this is exactly what was witnessed within the marketing of Tobacco in Indonesia; advertisements designed to change the perception of Tobacco to become more about status and masculinity rather than the health risks.

The Similarities between junk-food Company Coca-Cola and Tobacco Company LA Bold’s advertising that saturate the streets and capture the eye. These include catchy slogans and stand-out colours in prominent street locations. Left Image (Esposito 2016)

I’m sure many would see the work of designers in the fast-food industry as clever, successful, and of course slightly wrong, drawing many people into buying products in such a saturated market. Despite there being some controversies around junk food companies marketing, there is yet to be strict regulations put in place, much like the lack of regulations regarding tobacco advertising in Indonesia. So, this begs the question, is it the designer who is at fault in these situations, for abusing their ability to inspire, empower or enlighten (Rawsthorn 2014), or is the culture, society and government who are in the wrong for not placing stricter laws about it?



Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015, National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15, viewed 31 January 2019, <>

Esposito, B 2016, Coke fights anti-sugar campaign by uniting brands in ads for the first time, Financial Review, viewed 31 January 2019, <>

Jolly, R 2011, Marketing obesity? Junk food, advertising and kids, Parliament of Australia, Canberra, viewed 31 January 2019, <>

Nichter, M, Padmawati, S, et al. 2008, Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia, viewed January 17th 2019, <>

Rawsthorn, A 2014, ‘Design Is One of the Most Powerful Forces in Our Lives’, The Atlantic, Viewed January 31 2019, <>

Thaichon, P and Quach, S 2015, How marketers condition us to buy more junk food, The Conversation, viewed January 31 2019, <>

The Tobacco Atlas 2015, Indonesia, viewed January 31 2019, <>

World Health Organization (WHO) 20120, ‘Childhood overweight and obesity’, viewed 31 January 2019, <>

Post C: Women in Indonesia

During my time spent in Ambon researching the tobacco community and developing anti tobacco usage strategies. Primary and secondary research collected proved that the majority of smokers not only in Ambon, but Indonesia is men. This then sparked the question of why is that? In a more globalised city like Sydney for example, smoking is not easily distinguishable as ‘mainly for men’ or ‘mainly for women’ (ABS, 2013). 

The number of female smokers across Indonesia is considerably low in comparison to male smokers (Barraclough, 1999). Indonesia’s national household health survey found that in 2013, 57% of men were active smokers and that they are far more likely to be smokers than women (Rosemary, 2018), with only 1% to 3% of women being active smokers or likely to smoke (Nitcher et al., 2008).

What sparked my curiosity was that smoking amongst women in Indonesia is low not due to popular health concerns especially with pregnant mothers, but rather it stems from a more primitive patriarchal way of thinking (Coca, 2017).

Following an interview with a local women who currently resides in Ambon but is from Jakarta. The interviewee provided information on what it is like to be a women in Indonesia and the restrictions faced and why she believes they exist.

“Once I forgot that my supervisor was at a dinner with me and I was drinking, I hoped that they didn’t see me drinking. If they did most of them would think of me in a bad way. I think it will affect image.  ”

(A. V 2019, pers. comm., 27 July)

Without hesitation the interviewee shared the connections she believed others to make

“if someone saw a women drinking or smoking they would think she wasn’t wife material and unfit to be a mother – men say it’s unattractive and that they don’t like the smell of tobacco or alcohol on women. But If my supervisor saw my male colleague smoke or drink that would be fine” 

(A. V 2019, pers. comm., 27 July)

My personal belief is that neither men nor women should indulge in smoking or excessive drinking due to its negative effects. However I believe that something so non gender specific such as smoking or drinking, women should not only have a choice, but also be able to do so without being judged, as does my interviewee.

“I hope people will stop judging women.”

(A. V 2019, pers. comm., 27 July)


Coca, N. (2017). Big Tobacco Wants Indonesian Women to Light Up and Liberate, OZY Confidential. viewed 30 January 2019.

NIDA. (2018). Are there gender differences in tobacco smoking?, National Institute of Drug Abuse. viewed 30 January 2019. <>.

ABS. (2013). Australia Gender Indicators, Jan 2013, Australia Bureau of Statistics. viewed 30 January 2019. <>.

Barraclough, S. (1999). Women and tobacco in Indonesia, BMJ Journals, viewed 30 January 2019. <>.

Nitcher, M., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M., Prabandari, Y., Nitcher, M. (2008). Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia, BMJ Journals, viewed 30 January 2019.<>.

Post A: You can say ‘No’!

As my tutor once said,

Don’t be that guy who designs a betting ad on the Sydney Opera House.

(T. Stoddard 2018, pers. comm., 26 October)

Such advice is important to remember going into the ‘real world’ and realising that with design comes responsibility, especially when you have industries going unchecked like the Australian betting industry or big tobacco in Indonesia.

(Dragfepic n.d.)(PapaTama n.d.)

Integral to the Indonesian tobacco industry’s success is the pervasive nature of their advertisements and the way in which they pinpoint and target specific values like nationalism and modernity. In the upscale Djarum Black’s adverts, the sleek black packet is depicted as elegant and directly appeals to the upper middle class and the modern smoker. It notes that those who smoke Djarum Black are progressive and value new ideas. Similarly, their advert for “New Djarum Black Cappuccino” features a costly drink that isn’t drunk by the masses, linking this refined modern taste with traditional Indonesian kretek (Nichter et al. 2009). It’s this visual freedom that Indonesia’s tobacco design has, compared to somewhere like Australia, that allows it to play such a huge role in its success.


(Sydney Morning Herald 2018)

In Australia, a comparative case where one industry was given overreaching freedom in its advertising medium is the scandal around Racing NSW’s use of the Sydney Opera House for its own advertisement. This kind of promotion comes in breach of the guidelines for the World Heritage-listed structure to be managed in the public interest (The Age 2018), and while Racing NSW is not a private company, it sets precedent for big brands to target landmark sites such as this. While it is unlikely that Racing NSW will attempt to advertise on the sails of Sydney Opera House again (Butson 2018) due to the massive backlash, it is imperative that Australians remain vigilant against such propaganda taking over our beloved landmarks, as has already been demonstrated through active protest.

While we do not always have control, as designers, over the content we design, we do have the choice to design for causes we believe will better humanity or protest as consumers against a design which oversteps its place.


Butson, T. 2018, Racing NSW unlikely to replicate Opera House race projection after backlash, SBS News, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

Dragfepic n.d., viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

Nichter, M., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M., Ng, N., Pradanbari, Y. & Nichter, M. 2009, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 18, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

PapaTama n.d., Djarum, Pinterest, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

Sydney Morning Herald, Cheap ads must not tarnish Opera House brand, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

The Age 2018, Iconic Opera House trashed by betting ad, viewed 1 February 2019, <>.

POST A: Design Activism

Design plays a significant role in any matter, as it constructs the perceptions held by the public. In Indonesia, design is utilised as a tool to further tobacco consumerism, manifesting in advertisements. Due to the lack of regulations enforced by the Indonesian government, tobacco advertising is consequently extremely effective (Nichter et al. 2009). As tobacco companies are politically and financially powerful within the country, bringing large sources of government revenue, the Indonesian government is therefore reluctant to place restrictions upon the tobacco industry (Nichter et al. 2009). The government’s support for tobacco can therefore be seen by their refusal to sign the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), making Indonesia the only country in South East Asia which has not signed the treaty (Prabandari et al. 2015).

For the global studio in Ambon, we as designers had the difficult task of raising awareness of tobacco’s detrimental effects through design activism. My group produced a mural which requested audience participation for its completion, spreading awareness and encouraging support for the establishment of a smoke-free environment. For our design project, the involvement of Vital Strategies was essential to executing our plan, an organisation who partners with the government to create and implement public health initiatives (Vital Strategies 2018).

Figure 1: mural promoting a smoke-free environment

Furthermore, as the government supports tobacco industries, much of the health promotion against tobacco activity in Indonesia is carried out instead by non-government organisations, including public health and medical associations (Barraclough 1999). This is exemplified by the willingness of the local Puskesmas to cooperate with us to spread anti-tobacco awareness.

Resembling Indonesia’s large market for tobacco, Australia’s billion-dollar alcohol industry similarly poses as a major issue that invites design activism (Ditchburn 2018). The founders of the start-up Sparkke sought to challenge the direction of the Australian alcohol industry which they found too “male, pale and stale” with what they perceived as “downright misogynistic ads” (Ditchburn 2018). Instead, Sparkke seeks to push boundaries and spark conversations about prevalent social issues. To do this, Sparkke created a range of 6 canned drinks, consisting of slogans that bring awareness to important social issues, such as sexual consent, asylum seekers and the date of Australia or Invasion Day (Blandford 2018). Sparkke also donates 10% of direct sales to social causes (Ditchburn 2018). Although Sparkke’s love of pushing boundaries and the company’s social activism attracts its natural market of the millennials (Ditchburn 2018), the company still faces many challenges including the inevitable backlash it received from such strong messages (Blandford 2018).

Figure 2: Sparkke canned beverage (Verity 2018)



Barraclough, S. 1999, ‘Women and tobacco in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 327-332.

Blandford, M. 2018, Sparkke beer and wine company shakes up the local alcohol industry with its provocative labels, Good Food, viewed 31st January 2019, <;.

Ditchburn, E. 2018, How Female-led Startup Sparkke Advocates Social Change with Booze, Collective Hub, viewed 31st January 2019, <;.

Prabandari Y., Nichter M., Nichter M., Padmawathi R. & Muramoto M. 2015, ‘Laying the groundwork for Tobacco Cessation Education in medical colleges in Indonesia’, Education for Health, vol. 28, no. 3, p. 169.

Nichter, M., Padmawati, S., Danardono, M., Ng, N., Prabandari, Y. & Nichter, M. 2009, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 98-107.

Vital Strategies 2018, About Us, USA, viewed 31st January 2019, <;.


Verity 2018, Sparkke Change Beverage Co., viewed 31st January 2019, <;.


Post C: In Short Supply Of Anti Venom

“If you get bitten by a snake [in Ambon], I don’t think you’re going to live.”

Yulian Huningkor, interning doctor at the CH. M. TIAHAHU Puskesmas, gave this example when discussing the limitations of the Ambonese healthcare system.

Being a small island almost 4,000km from the capital, the movement of medical supplies can only occur in bulk via air or sea. It is slow, expensive, and will not occur unless there is a large demand for it. Yulian states that the hospitals and medical clinics do not want to risk finances purchasing large quantities of specialised medicines (or anti venom), which are likely to expire before they are even used.

Yulian’s college education in Jakarta was based around Western medical practices… but did not prepare him for the shocking reality of the Ambonese community health clinics.

I had the chance to visit the Kayu Putih Puskesmas, located in the mountain village of Soya. The building and equipment were in dire need of refurbishment; it was poorly lit and didn’t exude the pristine and reliable atmosphere I’m used to in Australian health services.

Kayu Puti Puskesmas Treatment Room (Belinda Te 2019)

The image of the clinic was at the forefront of my mind at the Mayor’s dinner party, in the aggressive display of wealth in the lavish government house.

Table setting in the front garden of the Mayor’s house (Annemarie Gad 2019)

At this comparison, Yulian admitted that distance isn’t the only challenge affecting healthcare quality.

“The funding usually goes to something else that’s important according to the government… but personally, I don’t know what’s more important than a human’s health.”

Not only this, but “the corruption here has been a very chronic problem.”

Indonesia sits in the top 100 most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (Ibbetson 2019), squandering funding that could be used towards improving public health (Juwita 2017).

I wondered if anybody had ever fought the poison in the health system, but Yulian explained “only a few people that understand the problem want to fight… but their aspirations are often neglected by the governments.” The lack of information and education also play a part in how many people are aware of the issues, let alone aware of how to combat it.

But Yulian is quite optimistic for Indonesia’s future.

“The development sure can take a while… But it will happen… so in the meantime I will just have to do whatever is necessary… any small action I do for these people here really has a very big impact on their lives.”

In a country snaked by its own government, in short supply of anti venom, it’s the small actions of individuals like Yulian that make the long wait bearable.

Reference List

Ibbetson, R. 2019, ‘The world’s worst corrupt countries revealed’, Daily Mail Australia, 29 January, viewed 30 January 2019, <;.

Juwita, R. 2017, ‘Health sector corruption as the archenemy of universal health care in Indonesia’, Mimbar Hukum, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 162-175.