Abstract

One of the more recent buzzwords associated with design is empathy. How better to design for a particular user than to experience life through the eyes, ears, and soul of the user? Most would argue there is no better way to truly understand the intended target of a new hi-tech gadget or a bare bones one-off product that enhances the life of an individual. The author does not disagree with this assessment, but does contend that there may be an overlooked component, the designer himself/herself, that can inherently make them more in tune with a user or in tune with what the user needs. This overlooked component is cultural identity and cultural upbringing. This cultural identity issue is particularly interesting in the United States where a July 2010 report by the Census Bureau states that the U.S. Hispanic population grew by 3.1% in 2009 to 48.4 million people. Those 48.4 million people made up 15.8% of the total U.S. population. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, these numbers grew to 50.5 million or 16.3% of the population. To a designer, this growth means new design opportunities for new markets with different needs and expectations, but still within the confines and context of the broader American culture. My exploratory paper looks to further explore both the role of cultural background of the designers themselves in the design process and explore possible benefits of their backgrounds relative to Industrial Design and the U.S. Hispanic population. Finally, this paper expands on the research already started on Latino/Hispanic Industrial Designers practicing design in the United States.

Keywords

culture and design, industrial design, Mexican design

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

The Value of Cultural Identity in Design: An examination of Mexican designers practicing industrial design in the United States

One of the more recent buzzwords associated with design is empathy. How better to design for a particular user than to experience life through the eyes, ears, and soul of the user? Most would argue there is no better way to truly understand the intended target of a new hi-tech gadget or a bare bones one-off product that enhances the life of an individual. The author does not disagree with this assessment, but does contend that there may be an overlooked component, the designer himself/herself, that can inherently make them more in tune with a user or in tune with what the user needs. This overlooked component is cultural identity and cultural upbringing. This cultural identity issue is particularly interesting in the United States where a July 2010 report by the Census Bureau states that the U.S. Hispanic population grew by 3.1% in 2009 to 48.4 million people. Those 48.4 million people made up 15.8% of the total U.S. population. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, these numbers grew to 50.5 million or 16.3% of the population. To a designer, this growth means new design opportunities for new markets with different needs and expectations, but still within the confines and context of the broader American culture. My exploratory paper looks to further explore both the role of cultural background of the designers themselves in the design process and explore possible benefits of their backgrounds relative to Industrial Design and the U.S. Hispanic population. Finally, this paper expands on the research already started on Latino/Hispanic Industrial Designers practicing design in the United States.

 

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