‘Interaction of Cultures through Design’ Cross-Cultural Design (CCD) Learning Model: The development and implementation of CCD design education in South Korean higher education.

Lee, Dong Yeong. 2016. ‘Interaction of Cultures through Design’ Cross-Cultural Design (CCD) Learning Model: The development and implementation of CCD design education in South Korean higher education.. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This research has arisen from an awareness of the emerging discourses about the future of design education in Korea. The country today is synonymous with advanced technology and high-quality products made by companies such as Samsung. The development of capacity for creativity and innovation in design has not yet been successfully implemented, and it has been argued that much of the responsibility lies with the education system. Currently Korean design education is focused on function, technology and solutions as well as aesthetic values; it drives students to be technically capable without understanding the value of design as a cultural activity. In order to tackle this issue, Korea has been introducing various initiatives in its design education system. These initiatives have focused on the convergence of design specialisms, as well as other disciplines outside of design. Parallel to these, this thesis suggests Cross-Cultural Design (CCD) as one of the possible elements that could aid this transformation. The findings of this thesis suggest that it is important for design students as well as educators to realise design is an activity of cultural production that can improve the quality of our lives.

Cross-Cultural Design is not a new concept. There are many definitions and practical implementations found in the various fields of study and within the design industry. Although considerable efforts are being made to explore and understand cross-cultural relationships as a result of globalisation today, there has been limited discussion about cross-cultural concerns from a design practice context. Previous studies on cross-culture have focused almost exclusively on anthropology, sociology and more recently, international business and marketing. This thesis, therefore, seeks to address this gap by examining the potential of Cross-Cultural Design (CCD) practices and develop a Cross-Cultural Design (CCD) educational framework for Korean higher education that encourages designers, design students and Korean universities to become more culturally engaged.

Firstly, this thesis begins by examining the current issues facing the Korean education system in Chapter 2. Chapters three and four discuss a general contribution to new knowledge by exploring the key characteristics of CCD, which are:
1) Cross-cultural understanding - understanding the cultural context for designers and the design concepts derived from an in-depth understanding of cultural differences.
2) Originality - enriched creative outputs from cross cultural practice. An ability to think creatively and design whilst retaining unique and novel ideas.
3) Practicality - new design ideas from mixing cultural codes/needs. Creation of usable design for everyday life through combined cultures.
4) Universal design - consolidated cultural needs to achieve Universal design ideas, when appropriate. Universally understandable design with minimised cultural errors and misunderstanding.
5) Cultural identity - celebrating cultural specificity to promote core identities, when appropriate. Cultural identity is also defined through culturally distinctive design, which plays an important role in structuring the Cross-Cultural Design reflection tool and template by providing a set of criteria.

The five key characteristics of Cross-Cultural Design presented above are based on various findings of what constitutes the elements within the CCD model (Chapter 3 & 4). This thesis investigates design education through the development of intensive project-based short course learning activities in Chapter 5.

As part of the study, five of these CCD short course activities were conducted over five years, starting in 2010. The programmes were developed and conducted in collaboration with Goldsmiths, University of London (UK), Kyung Hee University (Korea), and the Korea Institute of Design Promotion (KIDP). The focus of these education programmes moved from the inspirational benefits of cross-cultural experience, to the practicality and marketability of culturally engaged design. As a result, a CCD learning model was proposed and developed.

This thesis concludes that the CCD learning model can help give a new direction to Korean design education in order to make it more process-oriented, whilst paying attention to cultural issues. This model of education could help create more user-oriented and culturally located design. Korean design education is traditionally built on art education. Cross-Cultural Design education can provide a socio-cultural contribution to the education framework, and introduce a methodological approach to designing as a cultural activity, as well as a reflective approach. Secondly, systemic problems in Korean design education means it is currently not able to meet the social and industrial demands and changes required in a developing Korean society. This thesis proposes that Cross-Cultural Design education can help develop a wider spectrum of design fields, such as convergence design education. Lastly, with regards to social problems, Korean design education suffers from a narrow conception of the possibilities of design, and does not recognise that design can extend to work with other subjects within the university. However, Cross-Cultural Design education helps students and designers understand the importance of design in our everyday lives, and more importantly, the significance of culture within design activities.

In a broader context, educators can also benefit from diverse teaching methodologies; supporters such as governments can promote their national culture and boost their design industries. More importantly, consumers will have access to culturally rich and diverse products and services. The potential input of this CCD framework is to contribute to transforming Korean higher education. This framework could also be applied to other geographical contexts, but this is outside of the scope of this thesis.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Cross-cultural design, Design pedagogy, Design education, Korean design higher-education

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



30 November 2016

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

04 Jan 2017 11:09

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 13:58



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