Designing Across the Cultural Divide
Kara Pecknold | Emily Carr University of Art + Design
This paper will address how my experience working in Rwanda required that I look beyond my design skills (and presumed expertise) to consider the complexities involved when designing appropriate and relevant solutions for people living with limited access to clean water, health care and education. When a shared verbal language and technologies are not present, these complexities are pronounced and a designer must be prepared to adapt his or her process to accommodate them.
To evaluate my adaptations, I have divided this paper into two phases. The first phase occurred in Rwanda during the summer of 2008 while phase two was developed in Vancouver and applied in Rwanda in January/February 2009. These two phases consider how a designer can embrace the role of ambiguity in the design process and find adaptive methods to collaborate crossculturally. In so doing, the designer has the potential to advocate for the most appropriate delivery of sustainable outcomes when working with multiple stakeholders on complex problems in unfamiliar environments.