A Designerly Inquiry into the Unknown Culture: Integrating 4(*A) MindMap Research Method into the Creative Design Process

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It is believed that it is in the design of the artifacts of a culture where unique traits can be preserved, utilized, shared and celebrated. This goal of the research is to explore an innovative approach in teaching cultural awareness and acquisition in design by integrating 4 (*A) MindMapping (Actors, Activities, Atmosphere, Artifacts), storytelling, and reflective journaling methods into the design problem-solving process. Students are taught to map out their understanding of their selected subculture through intensive research by reading related books, internet search, semi-structural interview of people from the assigned culture. According to Walter Fisher’s narrative paradigm, all communication is a form of storytelling - a narrative is an interpretation of some aspect of the world that is historically and culturally grounded and shaped by human personality. The theoretical framework behind the exploration of the teaching approach is to look at the world from a descriptive structure in order to look into and design for an unknown culture. Therefore, in this exploration, techniques, such as, storytelling, reflective journaling, are encouraged in the students’ design process to help them deepen the understanding of the selected subculture and to elicit patterns and traits that belong to the sub-culture and need to sustain to preserve the subculture. By this means, an ever richer design context is developed by iterative mapping processes from a broad and naturalistic inquiry of the main culture to a deeper reflective understanding of the selected sub-culture, from locating verbal/text-based reference material to a visual analysis interpretive process. As a result, students are trained from linear learners, into holographic thinkers, to creative design problem solvers. The paper will present students’ works from two-dimensional graphic design to three-dimensional spaces design with environmental sustainable solutions that are applicable and suitable within their selected subcultural context.


Keywords: Cross-Cultural Communication, 4 (*A) MindMap, Cultural Sustainability, Designerly Thinking
Stream: Cultural Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Qiawen Wu

Ph.D. Candidate, Lecturer, Ph.D Program in Environmental Design and Planning
College of Design, Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ, USA

My research interests and works focus on consumers' emotional experience with interactive products and technology,consumer behavior,identity developmeent, consumers' personality traits,cultural sociology,consumption, youth culture, teaching creativity, thinking visually,MindMap, cultural sustainability in design,etc.

Ref: S08P0168