- A Postcolonial Critique of Industrial DesignA Critical Evaluation of the Relationship of Culture and Hegemony to Design Practice and Education Since the Late 20th Century
This research specifically focuses on the professional practices and training of Western industrial designers using key concepts from postcolonial and cultural theory as a lens to inform working practices and pedagogy in a complex global ecology.
The thesis claims that current design practice often leads to culturally determined—rather than universal—conceptions and thus attempts to re-envision design as practice within a (necessarily) hegemonic culture. As an epistemological investigation it endeavors to:
• further understand the trajectory of globalization and culturally hegemonic potencies in relation to industrial design and technology
• critically engage with the sociocultural implications of global, transcultural and hegemonic design solutions
• explicate the developmental imperative for more culturally cognizant, pluralistic and responsible design practices and educational provision
It explores how design solutions produced and developed in the West and subsequently dispersed into global, international and foreign markets affect those cultures by asking how certain Eurocentric, colonial, materialistic and market-focused qualities embodied by these artifacts can inadvertently contribute to the privilege or marginalization of people from differing sociocultural settings.
The thesis contends that product designers are not explicitly trained to comprehend or surmount their respective cultural constraints or preferences, and design education both nationally and internationally is not yet sufficiently equipped with the tools to acknowledge and confront this.
The research broadens our intellectual understanding of how product design in its discourse, practice and pedagogy can often rely upon Western (hegemonic) aesthetic and deep cultural archetypes at the expense of multicultural ethics. It remedially highlights the potentials that exist to explore a synergy between east and west in industrial design with a prospective vision for an international, transcultural design ethos that embraces sensibilities of diversity in design values, concepts and culture.
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