Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10397/90374
Title: The cultural interpretation framework : how experienced graphic designers innovate Chinese culture? Case study of six experienced Chinese designers
Authors: Tian, Yao
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2021
Abstract: The main origin of this thesis is a common concern that Chinese graphic designers (especially young ones) frequently see many Chinese graphic designs that are copied either directly or indirectly from foreign or other Chinese designers. However, there have always been some successful designers who have found ways of incorporating Chinese elements into their work in novel ways to establish unique identities. In this thesis, they are referred to as experienced designers. The term experienced underlines their status as designers, one that junior designers respect and follow. The aim of this research is to study how culture can play an important role in helping designers form their identity. While the issue of developing cultural identities in graphic design is universal, it is more important in the context of Chinese design because the current generation of Chinese graphic designers have not formed such identities. This study on internationally experienced designers can provide a resource from which young and junior graphic designers can derive useful strategies in graphic design, helping them become more innovative. Overall, the research design builds on analytic induction. The research topic is to form a core of knowledge that can help junior designers in the field of graphic design to learn how to establish a strong basis for understanding and utilising cultural values or heritage in their design work. The researcher focused on six internationally established experienced designers (three from Hong Kong and three from Mainland China). There are two main research questions: Do designers take their cultural background into account when innovating and How do they innovate Chinese cultural characteristics. In this research it is assumed that a designer's ability to innovate in their professional practice is related to their understanding of the values of culture, which is used in the design process to form their style and strength over time. Through in-depth interviews and analyses supported by detailed pre-studies of their background and professional careers, several common ways in which these experienced designers approach Chinese culture in their work are revealed. Further, by comparing all their work and design methods, several external factors emerged that can provide explanations for their creativity and uniqueness. Another finding of this research is that differences in their ways of working within cultural contexts are greater than the similarities of their styles and identities. This reveals that the ability to use cultural knowledge is personal and can be difficult to formulate as guidelines or principles.
One of the main results of this study is that the experienced designers' way of interpreting Chinese culture centres around 'design philosophy', a term many experienced designers like to use when talking about their understanding and utilisation of culture. This design philosophy is based their personal views of the world and their interactions with users of their work. Such a view evolves as they build their creations with acclaimed outcomes (in terms of both artistic and commercial value) after decades of practice and reflection. The main contribution of this research is a cultural interpretation framework. This framework is also related largely to the formulation of this design philosophy. This thesis concludes there are primarily two different explanations for the uniqueness of the studied experienced designers in their utilisation or interpretation of culture. First, visual and psychological contrast is widely used by the interviewed designers, which can be considered an interpretive method derived mainly from Western philosophy. Second, peace and harmony are emphasised as the main emotional expressions of the designers' inner worlds, achieved through their cultural understanding of such worlds. This is in contrast to the first philosophy and can be considered a Chinese or Eastern interpretative method for culture. A balance of five senses (or elements) is typically in this category of philosophies. The cultural interpretation framework proposed in this thesis is based on these three representative design philosophies, from which six practical methods for cultural interpretation are derived. The results of this research expand our knowledge of culture in graphic design. Moreover, the thesis provides a framework for understanding how experienced designers make sense of Chinese culture and how they have developed a philosophy that identifies their work. The framework is grounded in empathic design and can provide inspiration for junior designers (especially young ones) to take philosophical learning seriously and to develop their own ways of approaching design that can utilise the rich Chinese culture. The road from culture to innovation is not direct and there is no systematic way it can be found. From the framework developed in this thesis, together with the examples and life-long stories of the six designers, it is possible for junior graphic designers to learn and develop their own identity and style.
Subjects: Graphic artists
Identity (Psychology) -- Social aspects
Design -- Social aspects
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: v, x, 276 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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