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This is a journey of two years. Not too long in a life time. Nonetheless, the influence of it is much longer.
Doing design is what I have been doing most of the time here. From the perspective of design, however, what I can see and feel is beyond it. Beginning from the studio course taught by Deana McDonagh, I began to understand more about the design research process. Just like George Nelson said: “Study life, not design.” Sometimes we need to look at a problem outside of the problem itself. Designers always need to be curious about the world. That is the reason I took business, psychology and musical courses while I am doing designer’s work.
My study area for my thesis is the material landscape of Chinese women living in America. This group of people is unique. They came from Chinese culture, encounter western value in America. By the process of fusion and confliction, they are not traditional Chinese anymore. Nonetheless, they can never become American. Therefore, they are eager to find their culture acculturation and orientation in this mix context. And their physical and emotional needs are waiting to be met, which is an area designers seldom pay attention to. I visited and interviewed some participants in this group by using vernacular language and sharing similar experience. I also did visual recordings of their daily products which connects their values and their original culture. The goal of this study is to let more people know the life, pursuit and needs of Chinese-born women living in America.
This study is also a reflection of my personal journey in America. Frankly, I am in a dilemma myself in encountering these two cultures and values between America and China. Which way should I go? Do I need to adapt to the new life and new objects in my life or maintain the original material and emotional landscape within my comfort zone? I find my way is becoming clearer when I am approaching my study.
The journey in Industrial Design program in University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is close to the end. But the journey in life is much shining ahead. Thank you for every body who accompanies me walking through this trip. Though sometimes it is tough, your supports mean a lot to me.
“Singing and Dancing Lamboo Lamp”, made of laminated bamboo, 2008.
“The relationship between wheelchair and cushion variations”, sketch, Marker and Pen, 2008.
“Flower-Form Basin design”, sketch, Pencil, 2008.