My first module focused on doing constructive design research, and the final one took place in China, where I worked with different cultures in a completely different context. The Intercultural Markers module feels like a glue between the two; on one hand I was able to practice some more roles as a design researcher from the previous module, and on the other hand it would help me understand the influence of cultures in my own design process and how I can learn new design perspectives from foreign cultures.
The preparation of food was used as an analogy for the design process. Through the cooking of dishes with students from a different cultural background, we managed to explore each other’s values and assumptions in different roles during the design process, and reflected on our own process towards design. We had the opportunity to present the final dish at the Dutch Design Week, which forced me to really practically approach our design and think about practical aspects that would normally be taken for granted.
Intercultural Markers in
the Design Process
1 / 3
"Just good! Your reflections are to the point, rich, and not too elaborate. Your way of working in the module was exemplary. You picked all offered input/assignments as opportunities. You were able to focus and combine all the elements through just doing, making, trying out and reflecting.
Your insights on perspective taking are nice to read. One remark. You state: 'maybe I can catch some of these presumptions before they sneak into my designs.' It is also possible to deliberately embody presumptions in your design(process). "
- Sietske Klooster
Working as a chef / 1st person perspective
In the role of the chef, you make a lot of decisions on your gut feeling. These decisions have had space to grow over time, through doing, societal values and culture, or they come from inherited values. I noticed how automatically I made these decisions and assumptions when making my own dishes, but was questioned by the sous chef. It seems that when working as a chef, you are more blinded by your own presumptions, and these presumptions can be tested and questioned by a 2nd person perspective in the shape of a sous chef.
In the design process, I might find something similar, where my cultural background and upbringing acts as a filter for the decisions I make. If I can become more aware of what kind of filter I am, I thought I could use it to get rid of any presumptions in my own design. As Sietske Klooster mentions however, it might be possible to deliberately embody presumptions in a design. Maybe then, understanding these presumptions objectively, allow me to analyze how they influence the design and how they differ from those involved in the final design.
When working with new dishes, the role of the chef and sous chef seem to balance out a bit more; instead of one person making decisions based on their reference, there is less and less culture and inherited knowledge to rely on. Instead, the sous chef and chef seem to turn into a process of co-discovery, where techniques and approaches are discussed and decided upon before they are applied to the dish. I feel like this could also function as a tool for reflection on previous approaches; in the design process, I could force myself to work on something unknown together with fellow design students, in order to gain and evaluate meaningful past experiences when handling a similar subject. In this module bringing up these experiences together with students of a different culture gave us a common ground to make design decisions upon.
"From the start your team produced very poetic work. At the same time, for a moment I was worried you would focus too much on cooking techniques, instead of cultural values behind. None of this was true. You produced a great intercultural dairy processing fusion, moving from traditions-combination to innovation. Your work was an eye-opener." - Sietske Klooster
Being the Observer / 3rd person perspective
In the sessions where I was the observer, I had to take a step back from my normal intrusions. I can be a bit forward at times in taking the lead in situations where I feel like I have the space to do so. Being an observer forces me to let things happen in front of me. Since the chef and the sous-chef were both from a different culture, there were a lot of differences in the way they cooked, and these were obviously discussed. The similarities however were not always obvious, and it seems like the objective standpoint helped me to observe these similarities.
For example; both of them had a way of working with dough, a technique they learned from their mother I found later on. Working on the dishes together, maybe I was watching them both co-experience the creation of the dish, and with my questions later on, the storytelling they did around the way they handled the dough brought out meaning of handed down values and skills from their mothers. This meaning from experience and from experiencing together I think aches to co-experience as described by Forlizzi and Battarbee (2004) and the storytelling to what Forlizzi and Ford (2000) were researching.
Our group lacked a 4th member that would allow us to continuously cover all the roles; a 1st person chef, a 2nd person sous chef, a 3rd person observer, and a broad perspective of a highlighting filmmaker. Because we often combined the last two roles, I felt like I have not truly yet experienced moviemaking as a way to document my design process yet. Perhaps filmmaking would be a way to tie all these perspectives together complete with the findings from the research. I would like to involve this more in the next semester.
Cooking and the Design Process
Looking at the design process as the cooking of a dish was really refreshing for me. Food is something every person needs, so it provides for an ideal common grounds for individuals from different cultures to come together. By reflecting upon each other’s assumptions and past experiences and stories, from a first to a third person
nicky liebregts / 2015