Friday, October 10, 2008

Transforming Taiwan Aboriginal Cultural Features into Modern Product Design: A Case Study of a Cross-cultural Product Design Model

A scholarly paper on the cultural effect on design ...

"With their beautiful and primitive visual arts and crafts, Taiwan’s aboriginal cultures offer great potential for enhancing design value and becoming recognized in the global market. Evidence shows very high prospects for Taiwan’s local cultures to become crucial cultural elements in future design applications. The purpose of this paper is to explore the meaning of cultural objects from Taiwan’s aboriginal cultures and to extract their cultural features. The paper attempts to illustrate how, by enhancing the original meaning and images of these cultural features and by taking advantage of new production technologies, they can be transformed into modern products that meet the needs of the contemporary consumer market. The particular cultural object chosen for this study was the Linnak, literally meaning “twin-cup” in the Paiwan language. The study focuses on analyzing the appearance of the Linnak, how it is used, its cultural meaning, its operational interface, and the scenarios in which it is used. Finally, this paper establishes a cultural product design model that is meant to provide designers with a valuable reference for designing a successful cross-cultural product. The results presented herein provide an interface for examining the way designers communicate across cultures as well as the interwoven experience of design and culture in the design process.


Taiwan is a multi-cultural blend of traditional Chinese culture with significant East Asian influences, including Japanese, and such Western influences as American, Spanish and Dutch. This blend has allowed Taiwan, over time, to gradually develop its own distinct culture, mostly a variation of Chinese culture from Southern China. In addition, the Taiwanese aboriginals also have distinct cultures (Chang, 2006; Taiwan Aborigines Art Studio, n.d.). Taiwan’s cultural variety and distinction offers potential application in the field of design, especially as designing local features into products appears to be more and more important for the global market, where products are losing their identity because of similarities in function and form. Cultural features are considered to be unique characteristics that can be embedded into a product both for the enhancement of its identity in the global market and for the enhancement of the individual consumer experience (Handa, 1999; Yair, Press, & Tomes, 2001; Yair, Tomes, & Press, 1999). The increasing emphasis on localized cultural development in Taiwan already demonstrates an ambition to promote a Taiwanese style in the global economic market. For example, aboriginal music from the Bunun tribe played at the 1996 Olympic Games brought that form of music to the global arena. Additionally, martial arts movies from Bruce Lee to Jacky Chan to the films of the Oscar-winning movie director Ang Lee have promoted recognition of Taiwanese culture at the international level (Hsu, 2004; Cheng, 2005).

By using local features in design as a strategy to create product identity in the global market, designers have noted the importance of associating products with cultural features in order to enhance product value. At this point, the field of Industrial Design has played an important role in this process of embedding cultural elements into products and in increasing their cultural value in the competitive global product market. Therefore, we could say that designing a product with local features in order to emphasize its cultural value has become a critical issue in the design process (Wu, Hsu, & Lin, 2004; R. Lin., 2005)."    (Continued via, Rung-Tai Lin)    [Usability Resources]

Three levels of a cultural product and its design features. - Usability, User Interface Design

Three levels of a cultural product and its design features.


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