Culture Matters: Modernizing China's Design Legacy
MFA Thesis Abstract
This thesis investigates an emerging issue affecting the future of design in China: that young Chinese designers and design students tend to disregard and devalue the visual and conceptual aspects of traditional Chinese design in favor of modern Western styles. The political, economic, cultural, and educational factors that contribute to this phenomenon are complex and interrelated.
This thesis analyzes and contrasts the design approach taken by two different Chinese companies: one that directly imitates Western design, and one that draws upon national Chinese heritage. The thesis also examines three designers who have developed professional practices that successfully blend both Eastern and Western cultures and design philosophies. The methodologies of these three leading design practitioners are suggestive of the ways that key stakeholders (professional organizations, government, and design schools) could change to diminish and reverse the current trend towards superficial imitation of the West.