Bauhaus and Ming-Style – A Comparative Study to Contribute to the Understanding of Cultural Impact on Product Design

DS 74: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education (E&PDE12) Design Education for Future Wellbeing, Antwerp, Belguim, 06-07.9.2012

Year: 2012
Editor: Lyndon Buck, Geert Frateur, William Ion, Chris McMahon, Chris Baelus, Guido De Grande, Stijn Verwulgen
Author: Wu, Wenyu; Brezing, Alex
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: Southeast University, Nanjing, P.R.China, Dept of Mech Engineering; 2: RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Section: New Design Education Paradigms
Page(s): 411-416
ISBN: 978-1-904670-36-0


the global design community, the name of the famous German institution stands for one of the biggest influences on modern design. Bauhaus furniture meant a disruptive change in style in its time, dropping ornaments in favour of new materials and shapes. Many works of that period have become timeless classics, seemingly proving the universal claim of the educational concepts also associated with Bauhaus. However, as the functionalistic design philosophy as a principle aims at the reduction of any semantic referencing beyond the practical function, the educational approach naturally fails to support any consideration of “culture”. Because of this limitation, Chinese scholars are lately turning to their own design heritage to study the impact of Chinese culture on the design of objects, ultimately aiming at a modern, specifically Chinese design identity and a methodology and educational concept to support the design process for the culturally diverse home market. This paper explores the impact of cultural differences on product design by comparing similarities and differences in chair design of the Bauhaus period to the chair design of the period of the Ming dynasty, which is comparably influential and representative for Chinese design history. In this study, practical function, production methods and aesthetic value are analyzed as well as the differing traditions of daily life, thinking and other cultural aspects. The original design intentions are uncovered and compared, allowing for the identification of implications on design methodology for global and local markets. A better understanding of the impact of cultural factors should positively contribute to industrial design education and practice, both in the Chinese and Western educational systems.

Keywords: Bauhaus, Ming-style, cultural impact, product design, design education


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