Undergraduate Degree




DR2009 Products in an Asian Cultural Context

[Studio Contact Hours: 39 hours; Pre-requisites: NIL; Academic Unit: 3.0]




Academic Unit


3 AU

Course Description


Learning Objective

Through lectures, field trips and hands-on exercises, to introduce to students a broad range of traditional Asian cultural products and to address them as designed objects. Through this study to develop in the students an understanding of a uniquely Asian design practice.


This course will offer students the opportunity to study the range of artifacts and objects produced by the different cultures, traditions and heritages of Asia. Students also learn how the ability to use new materials and manufacturing methods allowed Asians to make products for  everyday lives as well as for ceremonial use. This examination will be informed by the visual, functional and ritualistic features of these objects. Following this study, the students’ own body of design work will be developed, through a set of assignments and workshops, in relationship to what they have learned.

Course Outline




• Introduction to the course

2 - 6

• Study of Asian products and artifacts; 

- Different regions, kingdoms and dynasties, religions and movements

- Every day objects, products for rituals / celebration / war / spirituality

• Field trips to museums and culture centers

• Examining the meanings, symbolism and semantics 

• Contextualizing and synthesizing to the present: 

- Exercises and assignments


• Mid Semester review of assignments

8 - 12

• Continuation and development of projects established in weeks 2 – 6

• Final project development


• Final review of project

Learning Outcome

The students will have an understanding of products in relations to Asian culture and society. The students will be able to draw on traditional cultural design values in the development of products for a contemporary lifestyle.

Student Assessment

  1. Final Assessment: 30%

  2. Continuous Assessment: 70% (of which at least 15% is participation)

Continuous assessment components will include:

  • Studio-based exercises and projects

  • Individual, group and team-based assignments


Recommended Reading/Reference:

  1. Maria Brosius, Persians, Routledge

  2. Virginia Schomp, Ancient India, Scholastic

  3. Virginia Schomp, Ancient Chinese, Scholastic

  4. Man Sil Pai and Edward Reynolds Wright, Traditional-Korean Furniture, Kodansha International

  5. M. Suenaga, A Pictorial History of Ancient Japanese Weapons, Armour &; Artifacts, ASP

  6. Jill Forshee, Culture and Customs of Indonesia, Greenwood Press

  7. Sōetsu Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty, Kodansha International