Intercultural Visual Communication (part 2/2)

How is it possible to get a comprehensive framework of intercultural visual communication? Through an understanding of cultural patterns and a research-based investigation of cultural artifacts. Mostly, document analyses are being carried out. Usually you start with the cultural dimensions (already discussed in some recent blogposts) and then you attempt to determine whether or not the documents fit to the categorizations. Studies like these where carried out by Marcus (2005), Singh and Baak (2004), Callahan (2005) and Würtz (2006). All of them were based on websites. 

Intercultural Visual Communication (part 1/2)

I took some time to dive even deeper into the topic and found some practical and useful comparisons. There are different approaches when it comes to signage and instructions. Should they be international and transcend cultural boundaries or should they be different depending on the cultural groups? IKEA instructions for example, might be easy to get for some people, but very hard for others and people have problems accomplishing the task. Brumberger says that cultural connotations are carried by more complex visual images and the one size fits all model is no more appropriate for visual communication than it is for verbal communication. In order to make effective design decisions, one need to have a framework for understanding cultural aspects of visual communication.

Lecture #08: Anastasia und Martin Lesjak – 13&9 design and INNOCAD architecture

Anastasia und Martin Lesjak arbeiten in einer transdisziplinären Gemeinschaft, die sich aus den verschiedenen Bereichen Architektur, Interiordesign, Produktdesign, Sounddesign und Research zusammensetzt. Ihre Homebase ist das Golden Nugget in Graz. Martin Lesjak ist Mitbegründer und Kreativdirektor von INNOCAD Architektur. Das Büro arbeitet an Interior- und Exterior-Projekten auf der ganzen Welt. Gemeinsam mit Anastasia Lesjak leitet er auch seit 2013 das Produktdesignstudio 13&9.

Lecture #01: Andrey Sudarikov – playdisplay

Andrey Sudarikov is from Russia and the founder and creative director of the design studio PlayDisplay which is based in Moscow. In the lecture, he talked about three of his projects and the design processes behind. Two of the projects were made for Singapore, in 2016 and 2020. The third project was made for Russia. The story of the projects begins much earlier before starting the project. For him, the start of the projects is the point where you start to collaborate with the client. Word of mouth is important. Usually, the client already knows some of your projects or something about you before he/she gets into contact with you. Also, people remember how the work process was with you and how the results turned out and they will tell it to other people if they are asked about the project. Most of Andrey Sudarikovs projects came about, because of some previous, older projects.

Lecture #02: Saskia Schmidt – Work Work Balance

Saskia Schmidt ist eine selbstständige Designerin, die sich auf Branding und Editorial Design spezialisiert hat. Ursprünglich stammt sie aus Deutschland und machte ihre Ausbildung zur Mediengestalterin dort. Um kreativer arbeiten zu können, wollte sie studieren und wurde an der FH Joanneum im Studiengang IND11 aufgenommen. Das Zitat „Ein guter Gestalter kennt die Regeln und setzt sie außer Kraft“ gewann erst später für sie an Bedeutung, da für sie zuerst Gestaltung vor allem nach Regeln ablief. Sie ist der Meinung, dass man Kreativität nicht lernen kann, aber wenn man wirklich will, jedes Projekt zu seinem eigenen machen kann. Das Studium half ihr dabei, herauszufinden, in welche Richtung es später gehen sollte. Vor allem eine Vorlesung zum Thema Branding und Markenbildung vom Grazer Studio EN GARDE hatte es ihr angetan und sie wusste, dass sie in Zukunft etwas in diese Richtung machen wollte. 

Cultural distance, philosophy and communication

Cultural distance

Research on cultural differences showed that there is a big cultural distance between western cultures and Asia. The gap that is felt between people and culture plays a big role in intercultural communication situations. Maletzke found out that the probability of a misunderstanding is proportional to the size of the cultural distance. According to researches from Hall, Hofstede, Trompenaare and Hampden-Turner and Halpin and Winer, the cultural dimensions of China and Germany show strong distinctions concerning the height of the index. As already mentioned, China focuses on the context, whereas that’s not the case in Germany. Germany is short-time orientated and China long-term orientated. China is collectivist and Germany individualistic. Furthermore, according to the book, China is more feminin and relationship-orientated and Germany is masculin and task-orientated.

Cultural differences and dimensions

Recently, I stumbled across two interesting books that were available online:

Heimgärtner, Rüdiger (2017): Interkulturelles User Interface Design. Von der Idee zum erfolgreichen Produkt. Wiesbaden: Springer Vieweg. 

Baldauf, Nicole/Lang, Rainhart (2016): Interkulturelles Management. Wiesbaden: Gabler Verlag.

I will refer to these books in this and the following blogpost. Even if they are not exactly about different cultural approaches in graphic design, I think they are related to it and there is a lot to learn from them. It is important for me to have an interdisciplinary approach when doing research and keep my mind open.

What is culture?

During this self isolation, I realized how important social connections are and how much they mean to us in our daily lives. Humans are of course social beings and therefore seek connections with other people. But also in cultural terms, this phenomenon is quite interesting and worth having a look at. I think culture also provides people with different techniques for problem solving. Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, for example, define culture as „a way a group solves problems or settles dilemmas“.