Globalisation & Cultural Product Design

GLOBALISATION is a term that is often bandied around in many different contexts. Sometimes it’s used in political discussions, it’s very often used in business, and most often people will lean on it in order to nebulously explain away some external pressure that lead to some kind of failure. “Oh, and of course globalisation meant that we…blah blah blah”. As it is such an oft-abused term it’s important for me to define what globalisation is so that we properly contextualise how it has affected design trends and shaped product design and delivery when the world is getting smaller. 

Globalisation is the result of the break down of barriers, borders, information and geographical separation that has isolated people for millennia brought about by technological innovation, global improvements in the transportation of goods and services, and above all else, the interconnectivity brought about by the Internet. 

Globalisation has caused a revolutionary change to the landscape of traditional business competition as previously you may have been only competing with local businesses or at most nationally with other domestic businesses. Now, every business is fighting with business from all over the world in almost every industry as it is possible to reach and acquire customers from almost any country in the world thanks to the Internet. 

So I could go into the full breadth of how Globalisation has shaped the world of business and especially all fundamental things from “design” to “manufacturing”. I could talk about the benefits of on-shoring and off-shoring or talk about optimising supply chains. I could weigh in whether the time it takes to ship from overseas really offsets the cost of domestic manufacturing, BUT I’m not going to do that today because there is a much more sensitive subject that is very often overlooked or considered taboo within the discourse surrounding Globalisation and that is the break down of culture. 

Culture in the context we are going to explore is the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group. Humans are more interconnected than we have ever been thanks to the Internet. A great example of just how connected we are is a website called Radio Garden. Radio Garden is a tool that lets you listen to any Internet Radio Station in the entire world that is broadcasting live right there and right now, and you can find any station by scrolling around a google earth globe and zooming in to any country and streaming the local Internet radio station there. 

As a result of this increase in inter-connectivity around the world, there has been an increase of influential factors driven from cross-cultures to designers/developers how they work on their product design and product development. Amongst many other exports arguably America’s biggest global export could be culture. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who had never heard of the New York Yankees, the Empire State building, freedom of speech, the Kardashians, George Washington, and the declaration of independence. All pillars of American culture. 

Since the 90’s arguably there has been a homogenization of global culture. You could drop into any high street in the world and I can guarantee within 5 minutes you will have spotted people wearing Nike, Adidas, Timberland, Levis and Uniqlo. So in a world of replicas how to do design objects that have meaning? 

As this trend of merging cultures begins to hit critical mass we are starting to see a counter-culture push back where consumers are starting to get bored of products that have lost their identity due to the lack of differentiation. This sense of identity is politically, socially and economically becoming evident to be important to consumers. “As a result, it’s important that we as designers understand this shift and if we are to continue to design products that people love, are meaningful and ultimately sell then we need to be leading the charge by incorporating culture (cross-culture) into our product designs.”   

This is what we at Detekt are great at. We have offices and teams based in Asia, the ultimate geographic Hub of the East meeting West, where global culture has influenced and shaped our society as much as our local culture and history have. It’s for this reason that we have found integrating cultural influence into our designs so natural for Detekt’s works of product design and development. 

Our diversified workforce and group of multinational designers are working to put cultures into modern product designs, we are creating many smart devices that respect the cultural origins whilst firmly taking its place in the world of modern IoT device designs, and is a great example of how we at Detekt can bring both deep cultural meaning to modern products to create real bonds with global users and their products of love. In a world of homogenous generic design intended for everybody and world citizen, we believe winning design comes from products that are made personal by understanding, respecting and drawing from deep cultural history but that can move the zeitgeist forward by also incorporating this with modern design trends and inspirations 

Here at Detekt we are perfectly placed and have a history of working with clients around the world who are rooted from many cultures and beliefs. We are experts at, researching, understanding and integrating cultures into our designs. We understand that great design isn’t one size fits all, and we believe that great design can be personal and catered. If you want to make great products that your customers will love, then contact us today.