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Assignment DG406 – Intercultural Design

Designed Chines BottlesLink to OWinfo:

DG406 – Intercultural Design

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yyater poster (high-res)

Competencies developed:



One of my goals was to attend for the assignment DG406 Intercultural Design cause of a lack of competency development in area 4 as you can see in the past. Furthermore I think it is important as designer to know how to deal with different cultures.

During this assignment we read, presented and discussed theories from the book ‘Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind’ by anthropologic Gert Jan Hofstede. The topics we discussed were power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and ‘virtue vs. truth’. These topics provided reasoning behind cultural differences.

Hofstede's indexes for ChinaWith this knowledge in mind, I’m now able to define and understand my own and other cultural backgrounds. Every nation or (sub-) culture is different based on their norms & values, determined by the levels of topics mentioned before. For instance; Germany and the United Kingdom do both have the same power distance and individualism index. However due to the relative big difference in uncertainty avoidance, the Germans require more strict and detailed reasoning and rules. For me as a designer this might be important when designing; for example (German) product manuals. Furthermore I learned the Western world focuses more on short-term individualistic achievements, while the Asian people focus more on coherent wealth in the future. Furthermore I learned the Western world use relative low-context conversations compared with high-context countries like China. This means that Western people have to talk a lot more into detail to tell the same story as the Chinese people do. For an upcoming designer it is important to be aware of these cultural differences and how to deal with them, especially in an open society and globalized economy.

Afterwards we had to design a water bottle for teenagers in China. Therefore we had to setup several hypotheses and make assumptions about our target group based on Hofstedes indexes (mentioned in second chapter). From this activity I learned that it is important to do a detailed market analysis for that country. This includes viewing Hofstedes indexes and watching commercials to make assumptions of the audience’s values (like environmental-friendliness, history, semantics etc.) In addition performing geographical and demographical research and reviewing current products on the specified market is important. Unless I can make assumptions based on the theories discussed before and pinpoint the design for another culture, it remains hard for me as a designer to empathize myself completely into another culture without being there. This activity provided me tools how to analyze and communicate towards other cultural frameworks.

What’s more I upgraded my 3D CAD skills with Maxwell, an external render for Rhinoceros. This enables me to use realistic materials so I can create photorealistic renders of designs. You can see an example of a product made of glass and porcelain in the poster I made below (high resolution poster over here):

yyater poster for Chinese teenagers Designed Chinese waterbottles

Poster & render I made, click on them to zoom in

In the end this assignment opened up my eyes for other cultures. As a designer it is important to deal with and design for different (sub-) cultures. Together with the assignment Analysing and Modelling NPD, I became aware that doing business with people in other countries is not only about money, but also about knowing and respecting your business area and partners. This assignment provided insight in intercultural dynamics and gave me tools to bridge cultural differences. In the end, thanks to this assignment it became also clear to me what the cultural problems between the team members of my previous project caused. For me this is also important to take in mind when visiting Sweden for my internship.