Culturally considerate design

How far can a region’s intrinsic values affect design trends and are advancements in technology being shunned on cultural grounds? We all assume that in this über-fashion conscious world we live in, and indeed the city that most of us reside in, that if a product is cited as trendy or must-have, then must-have it we must, but what if the innovation is at odds with inherent customs?

  • E-Mail
By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  October 2, 2006

|~||~||~|How far can a region’s intrinsic values affect design trends and are advancements in technology being shunned on cultural grounds?

We all assume that in this über-fashion conscious world we live in, and indeed the city that most of us reside in, that if a product is cited as trendy or must-have, then must-have it we must, but what if the innovation is at odds with inherent customs?

This month, we’ve witnessed two examples of such conflict: The first concerns the smart solutions that are now de rigueur in the high-end residential sector. At a recent press launch of LG’s HomNet system, a conference attendee controversially remarked that intelligent homes, “will never catch on” in this region. The crux of his argument was that the home is the domain of the woman, who organises every element of housekeeping and family life, and she would not be able to work or understand the technology. He asserted that digital homes are reversing the gendered domestic roles as men will have to become more involved in the running of the house, and women will not be so pro-active.

Is this really the case in a region that prides itself on being at the front of the line of advances in design innovation? Was he claiming that women are too simple, or the technology is not simple enough? Are hi-tech companies really coming up against pockets of distinctly underwhelmed consumers? While it is never the intention of companies pushing the boundaries of technology to contradict or defy established traditions, they are no doubt affecting the status quo of existing cultures.

The other example came at London’s 100% Design Show last month. In a Duravit seminar on the future of the bathroom, the over-riding thoughts by top designers were that bathrooms will become social spaces, complete with comfortable chairs for bathing companions and more interestingly, no walls or doors. Have we really reached a level of sociability where even a bath cannot be taken alone and in peace? I have my own doubts whether using the bathroom as an extension of the living room will “ever catch on,” in the Western world, but will such flagrant disregard for privacy ever be really accepted in this culture?

Charlotte Butterfield, Editor
Charlotte.butterfield@itp.com
||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code