Cross-Cultural DesignCross-Cultural Design: Communicating in the Global Marketplace
by Ken Haas (Editor), Henry Steiner (Editor)
Hardcover: 229 pages
Publisher: Thames & Hudson (June, 1995)
Product Dimensions: 1.0 x 9.0 x 11.5 inches
Reviewer: A. Ross (Washington, DC)
The ten years that have passed since this book's publication has seen a marked increase in globalization and a consequent internationalization of tastes and design. And yet the need for culturally specific design is still strong, and will remain so for decades to come. This survey of some forty design houses and individual designers is intended to provide concrete examples of projects undertaken outside the designers' "home" culture, explaining the challenges and solutions that lie in such work. In the first fifty pages, American-born and Hong Kong-based designer Henry Steiner provides an overview some of the elements of cross-cultural design, drawing on examples of his own work in the areas of iconography, typography, symbolism, and so forth. The next 150 pages are examples provided by the various designers, with accompanying text. This results in a very mixed bag, some of the text is very cryptic or too brief to be of any insight. Others provide a much better insight into the creative process, the hurdles encountered, and the paths leading to solutions. Alan Taylor's fifteen pages on redesigning identities for Indian, Malaysian, Thai, and Singapore airlines are very well-written and insightful. Another excellent entry is five pages on Pentagram's overhaul of the Mandarin/Oriental Hotels identity. A few of the entries show preliminary designs and sketches leading to the ultimate solution, examples that are of great interest to working designers. Erik Spiekermann's four pages on creating a stamp series for the Dutch postal system is very nice, as is the Duffy Group's spread on a logo for a German bank, and KARO's three pages on a logo for Canadian Airlines. These tend to be the exception however, as many of the examples simply aren't discussed very well and don't have much to offer. Most disappointing are the 18 fairly useless pages on the Japanese designer Eiko, who is best known for set design. Ultimately the book is moderately interesting if you're a graphic designer, what's perhaps most interesting about it is how poorly the mid-80s to mid-90s design work has held up over time.
Reviewer: Edward B. Marks (NYC)
In today's international marketplace designers cannot fashion their work to fit the cultural tastes of a particular country. The imagery, the color palette and the typographical arrangement must have global recognition. The authors of Cross-Cultural design have blazed the trail by presenting cogent examples of their craft that are lucid in concept, owe no allegiance to any nationality and have universal appeal.