CULTURE SENSITIVE CONTEXTMAPPING: DISCOVERING THE STRENGTHS OF EASTERN AND WESTERN PARTICIPANTS
Editor: Berg, Arild; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon; Gulden, Tore; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Pavel, Nenad
Author: Hao, Chen; van Boeijen, Annemiek; Stappers, Pieter Jan
Institution: Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Section: Design Education for the General Public
Contextmapping - a set of generative design techniques, used by designers to understand the context of their intended users - has been used successfully over a decade with Western participants, both in practice as well as in design education. However, for East Asian participants, the techniques are found not well attuned to their cultural norms and values. For example, in comparison with Western participants, many Asian participants tend to be more modest in expressing their feelings, which requires more supports in contextmapping sessions. In this explorative study we compared differences and commonalities regarding the understanding and application of contextmapping techniques among four groups: East Asian design students (from China and South Korea), an international group of design students (from Europe and America), and two groups of design students from the Netherlands, where the techniques have been developed. In this paper we discuss their behaviour and reflect on four identified culture respective strengths useful for learning and using contextmapping: creativity, autonomy, sensitivity, and effort. Some of the techniques’ characteristics are found to fit better with either Western or East Asian cultures, and could be modified to better accommodate the participants’ cultural preferences.