Tulip Pyramid - Copy and Identity (2016)
This publication is part of the Design Academy Eindhoven’s Dialogue programme and is the first in a new series, ‘The Academy Collection’ which will unlock and celebrate excellent research for a broader audience.
It was originally written as a thesis report for a research project concerning copying and cultural identity, and accompanied the design project Tulip Pyramid. Both the design project and the thesis were part of my graduation from Contextual Design (MA) at Design Academy Eindhoven in 2016.
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My research began, like many do, with a question concerning my identity. As a Chinese designer, I am frequently asked whether my work re ects my Chinese identity. And I wonder what dose that mean? What is Chinese design? And in what way does it differ from other nationalities? I explore the intentions behind these questions and I describe how Chinese designers are anxious about their identity, and, as one of them, I share this anxiety.
I believe that one’s identity reflects where and how one was raised. I want to learn from the phenomenon of copying in China, instead of denying it. I aim towards a design methodology inspired by the practice of copying in Chinese culture. By researching the historical, political, economic and cultural reasons behind the phenomenon, I found that the identity of Chinese design is rooted in a long history of copying and transformation, or cultural exchange between China and the rest of the world. In this process culture is borrowed and transformed along the way. There is no ‘pure’ or ‘specific’ Chinese identity in design. Rather, the identity of Chinese design developed through this process of copying and being copied. In other words designs are hybrids between different cultures.
Thesis mentor : Koen Kleijn
Design mentors :
Gijs Assmann, Maarten Baas, Simone Farresin, Mikel van Gelderen, Hewald Jongenelis, Jan Konings, Karel Martens, Vincent de Rijk, Louise Schouwenberg (head of Contextual Design department)
Editor of the final text : Ben Shai van der Wal
Photographer : Femke Reijerman
Graphic designer and illustration : Yoko Wong Chor Kiu
Graphic design advisor : Joost Grootens
Coordinator on behalf of Design Academy Eindhoven : Gabrielle Kennedy
Published and fund by Design Academy Eindhoven