Design as Culture

Design as Culture

“Design as Culture” by Armando Vilas-Boas

Two questions on this matter:
— What’s the Design’s role towards Culture?
— What’s the influence of Culture in Design?

To answer these questions, first we must understand the whole that configures culture. Culture is the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours, and artefacts that the members of a society use to cope with their world and with one another, transmitted from generation to generation through learning.

The connection between Design and Culture is based on 3 topics: Meaning, Collaboration and Utility.
— MEANING, because the framework of a design project will generate different results as it’s originated from different cultural levels or different culture systems;
— COLLABORATION, because the need to promote teamwork in the global world obliges us to be prepared to cooperate with the different ways of doing things;
— UTILITY, because design has the power to transform the world and make it a better place, as the example of the contemporary environmental concerns around the world.

These are some of the most relevant aspects, because they overlap everything. However, there are some details that won’t be as specific as these, and which include the human behaviour, for example: team collaboration during the execution of a design project, the history of cultures, the evolution of nature, to name just a few.

The social and commercial requirements imposed on design have grown considerably, and many designers with a sharper social conscience have contributed. Rick Poynor has stated that “designers are engaged in nothing less than the fabrication of a contemporary reality and that today we live and breathe design, absorbing it so deeply within ourselves that we no longer recognise the myriad of ways in which it asks, flatters, upsets and excites us”.

Culture gave rise to design in all kind of branches, and nowadays we can find it everywhere. Through Design the world can be changed and improved if we try to apply an ethical and conscious attitude to reduce the differences that exist. As Robert L. Peters said “Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.”

Armando Vilas-Boas – MA Design Course Leader

London School of Design and Marketing


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