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Vormgeving, co-auteur, tekst- en beeldredactie, lithografie
Auteurs: Annemiek van Boeijen en Yvo Zijlstra - uitgever: BIS Publishers
Culture is a complex phenomenon defined by an on-going process of shifts in human interactions and experiences. In addition to the functional, technical, and economic requirements, it is primarily culture that defines how any designed object or service will perform and how it will be integrated in our lives. 

The reason this book came into being is the notion that many designers regard their field as a pragmatic practice that primarily uses technological knowledge and rational principles. Projects are approached in the most efficient and systematic manner, with the aim of achieving exploitable products and services. To guarantee a successful introduction, intended users are involved intensively in the design process. Fortunately, preconditions such as ethics and sustainability are being taken increasingly into account, but strangely enough it is our own culture that makes us blind to the meaning and importance of culture in that process.
The Dutch sociologist Joop Goudsblom defined culture as ‘everything that should be learned’. He was terrified of the idea of having to go through life as a second-rate nihilist, and therefore focused on what we now refer to in a somewhat cowardly fashion as ‘sense-giving’. Culture, he believed, invariably contains an aspect of civilisation and, all things considered, human beings have a duty to learn what leads to civilisation.
Two activities distinguish humans from other animals: we define our identities by way of cultural signifiers and use heat or fire to prepare our food. Making tools, trading, teaching, playing competitive games, and watching television, for example, are activities that both humans and animals have in common.

We first need to define the concept of culture as used in this book. Culture is a collective term that consists essentially of norms and guidelines applying to social behaviour, language use, and manners that comprise the organisation of a society. Mythology, philosophy, literature, and science form the intangible, cultural heritage of a society. Material culture includes technology, architecture, and art. Design practice focuses mainly on this material culture, but no design can be viewed in isolation from the entire cultural context.
The term culture was introduced in 45 bc by the ancient Roman orator Cicero, who in his book ‘Tusculanae Disputationes’ described the development of the human soul as ‘cultura animi’, using a metaphor related to cultivating crops for the development of this supreme philosophical ideal. The difference between that and the contemporary definition is that human perfection is now sought outside of philosophy ‘by all means by which man manages to escape his original barbarism through artifice.’ This definition positions our culture as an antitype to our nature, and with this positioning we automatically end up in the domain of the designed world of our human existence.
On the one hand, the comprehensiveness and elusiveness of the concept can lead designers to understand the reflex of wanting to reduce it to an overview of different design styles. On the other hand, the difficult concept can lead to the view that all existing cultural differences are exaggerated, and that a universal design language should therefore be pursued that suits everyone in all circumstances. But both forms of reductionism deny the dangers to which any form of monoculture will lead. Cultural diversity is an evolutionary necessity because of the ambiguity and dynamics required to respond naturally and effectively to changing circumstances.
This book is a possible response to the need to understand these cultural processes in the context of design. It provides a lens through which to look at culture (Section 1); a design-related language in which to talk about culture (Section 2); models and methods by which to understand culture (Section 3); and examples that demonstrate the impact of design (Section 4) on culture. Along with the main text, the book is richly illustrated with images and examples, supplementary to the main text and aimed at stimulating reflection and self-study.
Densely populated urban areas are emerging in this time of globalisation and migration. These are cultural melting pots within which new cultures and subcultures are formed from a mix of cultural influences, technological developments, and a global communication network. These changes will lead to – as yet unknown – new definitions of social organisations and economies that will lead not only to new forms of rituals, utensils, and symbols but also to a need for other design disciplines and processes.
Review on QRCA views by Roben Allong, Lightbeam Communications, New York: Every now and then a book comes across my desk that surprises me in a good way. I am an avid reader, but a very busy business executive with little time to spare. Culture Sensitive Design: A Guide to Culture in Practice, by Dutch authors Annemiek van Boeijen and Yvo Zijlstra, surprises with a comprehensive, compelling look at design through the ages, its impact for better or worse, and proposed rethinking processes to better incorporate culture for smarter, more meaningful design. With the rapidly evolving demographics of the United States and the globe, Culture Sensitive Design makes a powerful argument for the reader to get engaged and utilize various cultural models to better observe, explore, and discover their own and other cultures to gain greater understanding of humankind.

This book is well-researched and written as well as aesthetically pleasing with a beautiful, easy-to-read layout with striking photography of museum artifacts, cultural totems, art, and historical and pop culture references that make it a compelling read. Visuals and imagery bring to life the argument the authors make that the influence of culture is inherent not only in design but in the way we approach and see the world and relate to everything and everyone around us. So, it makes sense that designers consider that cultural orientation is of equal, if not greater, value than systems, preconditions, and prior considerations when thinking about and executing design.

Culture Sensitive Design takes the reader on a fascinating journey through time, examining art, design, innovations, and products through the ages that serve as examples and ways to look at cultural differences that impact our behavior, values, codes, and traditions. An added bonus, if you’re a reader who likes to peruse the pages before you read, you’ll enjoy the rich visual treat that Culture Sensitive Design provides. read full review
Culture Sensitive Design, a Guide to Culture in Practice - 160 pagina's paperback - formaat 17 x 24 cm
Vormgeving, tekst- en beeldredactie, lithografie: Yvo ZIjlstra (Antenna-men)
Auteurs: Annemiek van Boeijen en Yvo Zijlstra - uitgeverij: BIS Publishers