Cultural affordance of products: coverage within industrial design education
Products are regarded as possessing not only physical properties but also subjective qualities such as culturally-based user preferences. To communicate these cultural aspects, products must "afford" conversation with their intended users using some type of language. Being initiators of product creation, industrial designers are supposed to facilitate the communication of the products' physical and non-physical attributes to users in a self-explanatory way. In this paper, the authors argue that if the cultural affordance of products is deemed to be important, then industrial design education must accordingly cover this topic in the curricula. To that effect, we examined the courses of study for industrial design from 39 universities worldwide, to determine if the relationship between culture and design is convincingly addressed within the training of designers. It is found that the majority of industrial design curricula suffer from a relative lack of subjects related to the links between culture and design. This paper concludes with propositions to integrate and enhance cultural affordance within the curricular structure of industrial design degree programs.