Culture-Oriented Design Products and Design with Themes: Malaysian Industrial Design Student's Practices.

Amirul Fahmi Razali
Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Art (Lica)


Up-to-date, consumer product design has shifted its focus from fundamentally offering functionality, towards emotions or experience-driven product characteristics (Ramirez, 2011). Nevertheless, the product functions, which are still important in one of their main attributes, were now defined in its social context rather than its functional offerings (Vere De, 2014). Product designers, particularly industrial designers, play a significant role in developing our future social environment (Eggink, Reinders, & Van Der Meulen, 2009). This effort can only happen as long as they take responsibilities and make aware of the effect of product designed towards their end-users, society and environment (Vere De, 2014). In this paper, this study will analyse the course structure and review studio projects attended by students, aiming at measuring student understanding concerning design briefs, where they applied 'themes' in design. From there, this research will investigate how well the students execute design methods or processes that are mainly related to design brief and how they react to design's problems and find solutions. The case study was from the three selected design school in east peninsular of Malaysia. The similarities from these three school of design are that they have a studio project class named 'Industrial Design project', or 'Product Design' as the core element for each semester. The foundation of this research was based on the 'Form of Design' theory from Gestalt (1998) and 'Social Identity Theory' and how a design interpreted through this form of social context by Victor Yocco (2010). These two theories are vital in addressing the issue of misconceptions faced by designers in designing culture-oriented design products and how designers improperly translated themes in executing design works.