Calibrating your Cultural Compass

Jan Chipchase draws attention to how important it is for designers to understand not only the local mindset but how it is from a global perspective, she calls it the ‘rapid cultural calibration’. As an exchange student in Singapore, I agree that it is important to be part of the action to understand the city and its people. I have observed many of the ideas discussed in the chapter Calibrating your Cultural Compass. By watching the city start the day from the side or joining them you can find the many differences each neighbourhood, city or country has. I have seen other exchange students who are unaware of the social norms and etiquettes of Singapore breaching behaviours that are deemed acceptable from their home town. Everyday life there are new cultures and experiences that help define the country, such as the unique laws that can only be found in a certain culture e.g. No durian on public transport. I have also found that visiting Maccas gives a different aspect of the countries traditional/daily meals. It is important as a designer to have a clear understanding of the local culture to prevent offence through your work and to understand what the community’s needs are.

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