How much of who we are, as designers, is dictated by where we come from? It becomes the age-old question of nature v/s nurture. Do we learn what ‘good’ design is based up on our cultural upbringings or more so by formal training? Many times designers stereotype design by cultural location. Such as, “Oh, that portfolio is so German. Very Bauhaus-esque”. Why do we continue to categorize on such a level of boundary in the fast-paced, diverse market of today when the language design is meant to be universal?
Take the example of our firm, Dot Kite. Currently, the headquarters are located in Amsterdam with branch offices in both Rome and Athens. Personally, I come from the United States, stereotypically noted for ‘busy” design and extreme pops in color. In our office we have individuals from a variety of other cultures, all of whom brings something special to contribute to the table. If we create a product concept, does this make the design Dutch? American? Italian? Greek? Also, do the places we manufacture our products influence how we perceive the bloodline of the design such as in India or Asia?
Summer and autumn bring the season for cultural design festivals. We gather as designers and relish in a variety of delectable design celebrations such as the Milan furniture fair, NYC Design and Dutch Design Week, but look at the backgrounds of some of the best designers of our era. Not every design superstar designs in his or her birthright country, nor should we believe otherwise. Instead, designers flock to the cities in which they are most inspired. The design community is becoming an international mingling of ideas and creativity. We celebrate now the emergence of creative hotspots and the cultural influence they have on our designs. It is no secret our surroundings influence our creations; painters, sculptors have been doing it for centuries.
I strongly encourage the design community to continue becoming a cultural mixing pot. As we immerse into diversity, we are never loosing our roots, instead, we continue to gain a more broadened perspective, who we are as designers and how far we can push the limits of design. Besides, isn’t that what it is all about in the first place?