Sunday 19 February 2012

Design and culture

'People ignore design that ignores people' - Frank Chimero. True words of wisdom. I find it particularly  true when it comes to international or culture oriented design. Design is a form of art, an expression of a vision. A vision is very subjective but often influenced by culture.

In North America we are considered the new world. We are descendants of mostly Europeans who were fleeing the hardships they experienced in the old world. They came here with a hope to build a new future, a better future for themselves and their children, a different and distinct future. There was even a certain desire to renounce the past and embrace the new and unexpected. This historic moment left an imprint on how we decorate our homes. If you ever travelled outside of North America you probably noticed that when you step out of an airplane, first thing which flashes in your eyes is how clean, modern and rich our streets and buildings look. We are leaning towards the contemporary design the most.

Europeans represent the old world. The world rich in history, art, design, architecture. History takes them back in time from the ancient world , through the medieval times to the monarchy, which is still present, and takes us all the way up until today. When you walk through the European streets often stepping on cable stones, history is in every breath of every step. Many European people lean towards the traditional, luxurious, royal palace look. Luxurious wallpapers, majestic chandeliers, palace looking furniture dominate the decor. With the exception of warm Mediterranean countries, i find Europeans to be very conservative with color. Classic and neutral colors dominate the decor. Below is an examples of European driven decor.

As we cross through Asia we can't help but noticing how the color palette in home decor becomes more and more varied, sophisticated and rich in details. Asian interior design is influenced by Chinese and Japanese designs. Both have long and rich history. Their culture is filled with fairy tales about great warriors and love stories described in the most expressive and colorful language just as their history is.
Dragons, words of wisdom, red and black colors dominate the decor. Japanese are more subdued  and their decor tends to be more modern with earthy and natural subjects yet with a punch of yellow.

Sand dunes and camels approach us to Middle East. Similarly as Asians, Arab culture is one of the most ancient. Arab culture carries rich tradition and religion from the past into the present. Favorite stories which were spread from mouth to mouth for generations concentrate on great warriors, great conquers and big achievements. Middle Eastern culture is most resistant to modernism and therefore you will often find typical Middle Eastern traditional decor filled with ornaments, colorful mosaics, golden accents and majestic chandeliers. Close your eyes and picture images from the movie Lawrence of Arabia or Sherezada or One Thousand and One Night and the image in front of your eyes will represent Middle Eastern decor with precision.

If heat is burning your skin you are undoubtedly in Africa. Africa has always been and still is pretty much agricultural in nature and tribal in culture. African people are real artists. Creating objects and decorations is main leasure activity. Therefore jewelry is very creative and full of details, hand crafted objects dominate home decor, wooden arts are varied in shape and color, masks, pottery, sculptures you name them are all a part of home decor. Africans are also the most fierce with color. Any color including the most flamboyant is a fair play when it comes to clothing and decorating.

International design is more varied than that but i do believe they are the main players and the most distinct. When designing for international clients or for ethnical groups bringing a touch of their culture into people's homes makes a house, home. Home filled with warmth, heritage and a personal touch.

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