Poetry as a cross-cultural analysis and sensitizing tool in design

P. Marti (Corresponding author), E.B.W. van der Houwen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)
    92 Downloads (Pure)


    The overall trend toward globalization in design, greatly enhanced by digital technologies, has raised issues and challenges on how to preserve the cultural differences and values of different societies. There is a tendency to lose touch with local cultural values when designing artefacts for global use, and social nuances and traditions risk to be flattened or stereotyped in the pursuit of developing new technologies and products for the global society. Attempts to reduce the tension between the global and the local in design can be seen in the development of standards and guidelines for cross-cultural design, that are mostly focused on (online) user interface design. However, when moving from preferences, metaphors, appearance, and navigation toward cultural models of interaction and physical design, new methodologies and tools for cross-cultural design are needed. This paper describes a poetry-inspired design method for cross-cultural sharing within the design process. The approach uses poetry to sensitize the designer to the subtleties and diversity of a (new or known) culture so that the design can be given new aesthetic and cultural significance. The methodology is exemplified by actual design cases developed within the course “Cultural Sensitivity” of the Master’s Degree Program in Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology, where poetry was used for uncovering underlying or implicit assumptions, intercultural differences and similarities, as well as for general sensitization of young designers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)545-558
    Number of pages14
    JournalAI & Society
    Issue number3
    Early online date12 Apr 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


    • Cross-cultural design
    • Cultural values
    • Design method
    • Engineering tools
    • Interaction design
    • Poetry


    Dive into the research topics of 'Poetry as a cross-cultural analysis and sensitizing tool in design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this