Achieving Diversity: Through Intercultural Collaboration

Mia Kile, Andrew Milligan, Yuehao Chen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    This paper describes an intercultural collaboration by D > S > O: DUNDEE SHANGHAI OKLAHOMA involving Interior Design / Interior Architecture disciplines from DJCAD University of Dundee, the University of Oklahoma and SIVA Shanghai Institute for Art and Design who co-designed the "Mobile Museum' workshop in collaboration with the V&A Dundee Museum of Design in July 2012 in Dundee. Given the economic challenges in most countries, interior designers are taking on projects globally. This international presence necessitates the diversity of designers. Cultural awareness and global issues are often stressed in interior design education through various pedagogical formats. However, discussion and reading about cultural awareness is one thing, but experiencing the differences first hand is far more enriching.Recognizing this need, three professors from programs in interior design/ architecture developed an international, collaborative experience. The host university, located in Scotland, provided the platform for the other two universities from the United States and China. This weeklong workshop engaged students in a common design challenge. The students were invited to develop a design proposal for a small-­‐scale experimental structure that explored concepts of mobility, culture and pop-­‐up. Three teams were developed consisting of 5-­‐6 students with representation from each school. Throughout this experience, students and professors were confronted with various hurdles with the obvious language barrier. Students were encouraged to work through the problems by means of negotiation. According to Littlejohn, "Western-­‐style thinking, which values the rational and logical, is mistrusted in the Eastern tradition." He further states that, "what counts in many Asian philosophies is intuitive insight gained from direct experience. Such insight can be acquired by observing rather than participating (not intervening}, which explains why silence is so important in Eastern communication." (Littlejohn, 2010) A cultural dissimilarity as it pertains to society, educational, and personal awareness was experienced by all groups.Intercultural collaboration is necessary particularly given the on-­‐going blurring of business markets and of disciplines. "lntercultural competence can be defined as involving 'attitudes', 'skills of interpreting and relating' and 'skills of discovery and interaction' and can be achieved by means of intercultural education conducted during compulsory schooling." (Witte, 2011) .With an understanding that drawing is the universal language for designers, teams implemented brainstorming techniques, such as mind mapping, using images instead of words. Soon the students discovered the use of applications such as Google Translate, to communicate with their team mates. The deliverables consisted of hand sketching, perspectives, digital drawing or computer aided drafting and model making. The teams were to exhibit their project in an electronic format that was verbally presented to an audience of designers, administrators, educators and students. Each team set goals and divided responsibilities based on individual strengths. For example, some students were more diverse in a particular computer application while others were comfortable with model making or hand rendering. This experience empowered individuals which was evident in the final presentation as students were confident and comfortable among each other. Through this workshop we discovered that despite no prior knowledge, new creative relationships can form if the context is right and the challenge is worthwhile. As part of this initiative, the next step is to take the workshop to China and then to the United States. This type of international exchange lays the foundation for future practice as graduates. Littlejohn, S. &. (2010). Theories of Human Communication (10th Ed.). Long Grove: Waveland Press. Witte, A. &. (2011). Intercultural Competence: Concepts, Challenges, Evaluations. Intercultural Studies and Foreign Language Learning. Volume 10. . In P. Lang, Oxford (p. 487). Oxfordshire
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationInterior Design Educatiors Council
    Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Southwest Regional Conference 2014
    EditorsCarl Matthews
    PublisherIDEC Interior Design Educators Council
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventIDEC Interior Design Educators Council: Proceedings of the Southwest Regional Conference, 2014 - Fay Jones School of Architecture, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, United States
    Duration: 2 Oct 20144 Oct 2014


    ConferenceIDEC Interior Design Educators Council
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    Internet address


    • intercultural
    • interiors
    • diversity
    • collaboration
    • Design


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