Culture and Design: Integrating a Cross-Cultural and Interdisciplinary Experience into Design Curricula

By Claudia Bernasconi, Jeong-Ju Yoo, Nora M. MacDonald and Hannah Rose Mendoza.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The contemporary global and multicultural world requires increasing interdisciplinary professional collaboration. This creates the need for an
academic structure that fosters designers capable of approaching design
challenges with an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural forma mentis. Questioning ones own cultural and professional identity through the immersion in a diverse environment is the first step toward the understanding of the complex and multilayered nature of design and the integration of cultural elements in design. The current academic structure of many universities in the United States does not fully promote collaboration among design disciplines, which often are segregated into distinct units spread across multiple colleges.This subsequently jeopardizes the exchange of ideas regarding pedagogy and design approaches. Faculty at West Virginia University developed and implemented an interdisciplinary design study abroad program, open to all students in the fields of landscape architectural,
architectural, interior, graphic and fashion design, and other related disciplines. The Design in Italy program, Disegno Italia, provides students with enhanced learning opportunities that integrate and complement the design educations available at their home institutions. A survey was conducted on participants over a two-year period in order to: 1) assess the educational study abroad program, 2) generate recommendations for improvements to the program, and 3) provide information to develop strategies for expanding the interaction of the on-campus design programs. The results suggested strong linkages within the following themes: awareness of pedagogical differences in art design education, promotion of creativity, appreciation for cultural differences in design approaches, understanding of potential for academic and professional collaboration, and understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of design disciplines.

Keywords: Design Pedagogy, Cross-Cultural, Interdisciplinary, Creativity, Professional Collaboration

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.161-172. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 908.553KB).

Claudia Bernasconi

Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Division of Resource Management, Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences, West Virginia University, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

Professor Bernasconi’s primary research interests are cross-cultural and interdisciplinary education, and environmental aesthetics and environmental psychology. She is teaches Design Studio II and History of Landscape Architecture at West Virginia University. Her She has received her education in Italy completing a BS and MS in Architecture at the University of “Roma Tre,” School of Architecture, Rome, and a Post Professional Master in Design, at the University of “La Sapienza,” Rome. She is a registered architect in the European Union and has worked as scenic designer, graphic designer, and consultant architect.

Jeong-Ju Yoo

Assistant Professor of Textiles, Apparel and Merchandising, Division of Design and Merchandising, Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

Professor Yoo’s areas of expertise are retail merchandising, design theories, and product development. He conducts research in a number of areas including risk perception of using personal care products, consumer behavior, and educational pedagogy. He earned degrees in apparel design and merchandising including a BA from Seattle Pacific University, an AS from the Fashion Institute of Technology, an MS from Cornell University, and a PhD from the University of Minnesota. Prior to earning his masters degree he worked for an international textile firm in New York City.

Prof. Nora M. MacDonald

Professor of Textiles, Apparel and Merchandising, Division of Design and Merchandising, Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

Professor MacDonald served as an instructor of apparel design at Iowa State University followed by work as an interior designer in Madison, Wisconsin, before joining the faculty at West Virginia University. Currently she is Professor and Chair of the Fashion Design & Merchandising program at WVU. Her primary research interests are educational pedagogy, functional apparel, apparel for older persons, and custom apparel design. She holds BS and MS degrees in Textiles and Clothing from Iowa State University and has additional coursework in rehabilitation from West Virginia University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Iowa.

Hannah Rose Mendoza

Assistant Professor of Interior Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA, USA

Professor Hannah Rose Mendoza’s primary research interests are history of interiors, feminist geography, universal design, and the body and the near environment. She holds a BA in Art History from Rutgers University and an MFA in Interior Design from Florida State University. Currently she is pursuing a PhD in Geography. Prior to joining the faculty at Savannah College of Art and Design, she was a member of the Division of Design and Merchandising at West Virginia University. Previously, she practiced as an exhibit designer and served as an adjunct faculty member at Florida State University, Valdosta State University, and The Art Institute Online.


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