Archive for January, 2012

Impressions from Namrata Shenoy

Universal Design Research  – Overview

The DAAD scholarship awarded to me through the University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Hannover) proved to be a thoroughly insightful and enriching experience. It provided me with the invaluable opportunity to consciously identify and appreciate cultural differences with an ability to withhold judgement while doing so.

A ‘universal’ approach

In today’s world that is increasingly becoming global, it is essential for any culture to be able to understand and respect the diversity of backgrounds we possess and this scholarship is a step towards a more informed, more tolerant and above all, more harmonious community. Without this sense of understanding, it is meaningless to talk of a “universal” approach that merely focuses on physical aspects of design. These layers of culture, behaviour and emotions have to be added in order to make the design more meaningful to all and thereby more universal, knowing that problems due to age, health and income are present in different forms across different countries.

My experience

From nuances in packaging to behavioral tendencies and linguistic complexities, the project spanned a series of impressions attained as a first time visitor to Europe. My focus area being ‘The concept of personal space within public spaces’, I derived the possibility of speaking to a multitude of people, understanding their mind-sets and perceiving how the concept of space varies across cultures, in the process affecting one’s behaviour and body language. The inherent factors of climate, tradition and purpose add to the complexity of this subject and by living in Germany, I could fathom the meaning of these factors while drawing from my background as an Indian resident with a background of design.

Overall, I am grateful to the DAAD (German Academic Exchange), the Hochschule Hannover – Prof. Birgit Weller, Marie Kuprat and the National Institute of Design - Ravi Shankar, India for enabling me to embark upon this fascinating journey that bridges the gap between two very different, yet very similar cultures of Germany and India.