Creating Through Culture: How Culture Shapes Art and Design in Asia

by The Adobe Blog team

posted on 01-10-2019

Designers today are held to high expectations.

Whether it’s product design for a smartphone camera that ‘wows’ users from the first selfie, to personalising the online experience for hundreds of audience segments, designers are expected to delight. To surprise. To keep audiences coming back for more.

Creatives at heart, there are many ways designers can stay inspired and meet this demand. One of these is looking to the environment around them – their culture. This is especially true in Asia Pacific, a region filled with colour, culture and unique voices that are exceptional to the rest of the world.

At Adobe MAX we caught up with several designers behind the top brands in APAC to ask how their heritage and culture influences design. Watch the videos below to discover their creative processes, varied approaches to leading a design team, and challenges that are both market-unique and universal.

1. Designers — turn option-overload into opportunity

Han Wang will tell you that Chinese designers face the same challenges as everyone else.

Leading the interactive experience design for Toutiao – China’s largest AI-powered content discovery platform and mobile app – each day Han is navigating different channels, new technologies, and nurturing a team that must collaborate to successfully deliver.

To keep up with production and expectations, Han has a unique leadership approach to get the most out of his team. Listen to Han explain how designers should be briefed, keeping your team inspired, and turning option-overload into an opportunity for innovation.

2. Xiaomi is designing for culture — and selfies

How can design create a sense of surprise?

This is the challenge that Wang Qian faces working for Chinese tech giant Xiaomi – one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world and a dominant player in laptops, smart devices and TVs. Focusing her efforts on Xiaomi’s flagship smartphones, Qian designs the experience for a crucial function of this device – the camera.

Taking pictures is a standard smartphone capability but Qian says it represents a crucial part of the overall experience in many Asian cultures. To satisfy Chinese consumers, for example, an easy interface and professional effects need to ‘wow’ users from the first selfie.

As Xiaomi expands its reach into other selfie-obsessed markets like India, Qian is tailoring the camera experience based on local cultural preferences. Watch the video to discover her process.

3. Cut-through takes A business, not A designer

There are officially 22 languages in India – and that doesn’t count the scores of scripts and dialects still used across the country. Communication is therefore a key focus for any brand operating in India, and no small task for India’s largest online marketplace: Flipkart.

As Director for Design and UX, Vivek Juyal is tasked with tailoring the Flipkart experience to audience preferences and attitudes. Although Vivek uses various strategies to guide his team, he realises that breakthrough experiences can’t depend on the design team alone – creativity must be expected from all departments across the business.

In a market defined by cultural diversity, discover the approach to personalising experiences for one of India’s largest digital brands.

4. Authentic voices demand creativity

Creativity is the lifeblood to any agency world.

JiYon Rhim, Art Director for Korean advertising agency INNOCEAN, understands this and uses multiple strategies to build a culture that lets creativity flourish.

Meetings are held without hierarchy to encourage all team members to speak their mind, while campaign ideation should always be grounded in the values held by the intended audience. New technologies should be aggressively explored as storytelling techniques.

The goal of creativity, says Rhim, is to find an authentic voice in every campaign. But what should you do when the values of society, or the client, clash with your own? Discover Rhim’s answer and more.

5. Culturally-charged design reflects people

If you’re visiting Kuala Lumpur, the PETRONAS towers are hard to miss. The company have its name printed on the tallest twin buildings in the world, a sight that has become a welcome landmark to Malaysia’s capital city skyline.

Although the brand is highly visible, Emalina Aimi knows it takes an authentic voice and personalised experiences to connect with Malaysia’s diverse population. As part of the Creative Team, Emalina needs to craft meaningful stories that reflect the heritage, culture and background of the various cultural groups that call Malaysia home. Learn Emalina’s approach for culturally-charged design and how multinationals can build an authentic voice.

Topics: Creativity, APAC