Telling the Foreign

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A perspective is a mode of seeing, in that extended sense of ‘see’ in which it means ‘discern’, ‘apprehend’, ‘understand’, or ‘grasp’. It is a particular way of looking at life, a particular manner of construing the world (...). Clifford Geertz

This Travel Kit is a collection of questions, which might open your mind when travelling or staying abroad. These questions are to trigger a deeper reflection on how your perspective as a designer is shaped by cultures. They are an invitation to observe cultural spaces and shapes, local design practices, the Other, interaction and your own perception – in order to celebrate diversity. Choose one or several questions. Keep a journal about what you discover. Find a mode of notation that is yours, using media that fit your research question, may it be a pencil or a microphone. Whether you travel around the world or to a neighbourhood nearby doesn‘t matter. This Travel Kit is part of the project Cultural Spaces and Design – Prospects of Design Education . For more information visit the blog on

Exploring Cultural Spaces

Where are you? How is the light?

What are the colours, sounds, smells and tastes of this place? Its textures and tactility? Its atmosphere? Who is here? Who isn’t? What is invisible, hidden, overlooked? What is public, what private? Which are the problems and needs to be found here? How are they met? Can you note daily routines?

Who creates this space? Who is in power? Who is safe? Who isn’t? Which traces of the past are visible or invisible? How is this place connected to others?

What do symbols reveal? What are the mental landscapes underneath?

What is changing? What continues?

What ends? What begins?

What sensations, thoughts, feelings, judgements does it evoke? How is it perceived by others?

Exploring Material Culture

What do objects reveal? Artefacts? Bodies? What is in use? What isn’t? How is it made? What is it made of?

What is its journey? Its value? Its story, its meaning?

What are shapes, textures, colours? How did they become what they are? Who is involved? How? What is covered? What is revealed?

What is missing?

What changes? What disappears? What remains?

Exploring the Other

Who or what is the Other for you? What are their dreams, thoughts, beliefs? Their habits, values, rituals? What are they proud of? What makes them cry? Where do they belong? Which cultural spaces are they rooted in? How would they describe themselves? And you?

What are your observations, interpretations, judgements about the Other?

Are you trapped in stereotypes? In exoticism? What do you find beyond the expected?

Can you take the Other’s perspective?

Exploring Yourself

Where do you belong? Which cultural spaces are you rooted in? Who are you here? How is this changing?

Where are you going? Why? What appears strange? What familiar?

When do you feel separated?

When connected?

What does your observations and judgements reveal about you?

Which of your values are challenged?

How does what you see change over time?

What does your way of seeing the Other reveal about you? About your culture?

Who are you as the Other?

Exploring Interaction

Who is interacting?

With you? How?

Which are the topics taken up? Which are the ones neglected?

What is explicitly said? And what indirectly? What does the body reveal? The use of media? Can you observe social manners?

What does interaction reveal about hierarchy? About roles? About the relationship of men and women?

How is power expressed? When does it get complicated?

What is lost in translation? When does mutual understanding succeed? How do you know? Who is collaborating? How? Could you join in?

Exploring Journaling

What do you focus on? Why? What do you record? What do you skip? Why? When do you keep your journal? How often? How long?

What are your notes based on? What do they reveal about your perspective? About your concept of beauty?

How is that influenced by cultural spaces you lived in? Who reads your notes? Now? And later? What is your mode of notation? What are your media?

What’s the use of your notes? Whereto will they lead? Do you need to know now?

Is there space for intuition? For the unknown?

Can you tell the foreign? What is the foreign telling?

Imprint Editors

Anka Falk, Regine Halter, Catherine Walthard Concept and Design

Anka Falk, Lea Leuenberger, Noemi Scheurer Illustration

Noemi Scheurer Layout

Lea Leuenberger Risographies, Consulting

Weissheimer Grafik Design, Basel Print

Phönix Druckerei, Basel Publisher

Sedici Verlag, Basel On behalf of

Cultural Spaces and Design - Prospects of Design Education, funded by Gebert Rüf Stiftung Limited Edition for the Colloquium Globalisation is a Design Issue, June 20-22 2017

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© Sedici Verlag 2017 ISBN: 978-3-9069-12-05-9 Diese Publikation erschien unter dem Sedici Verlag im Juni 2017 am Institut HyperWerk, Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, FHNW, Basel. 
 Alle Rechte vorbehalten, Vervielfältigung nur mit Genehmigung des Sedici Verlages, Jan Knopp. Übernahme von Texten oder Bildern: Sedici Verlag gestattet die Übernahme von Texten und Bildern in Datenbestäande, die ausschliesslich für den privaten Gebrauch eines Nutzers bestimmt sind. Die Übernahme und Nutzung der Daten zu anderen Zwecken bedarf der schriftlichen Zustimmung von Sedici Verlag.

«Telling the Foreign.»

«A Designer‘s Travel Kit», Cultural Spaces and Design – Prospects of Design Education, Illustration: Noemi Scheurer, Design:

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