Undergraduate Degree




DV3004 Cultural Context in Asian Design

[Studio Contact Hours: 39 hours; Pre-requisites: DD2000; Academic Unit: 3.0]




Academic Unit


3 AU

Course Description


Learning Objective

To develop in the student their creative identity as informed by the specifics of the time and place of their cultural circumstances.


It is almost self evident that an artist inherits their practice from the time, place and cultural specifics of where they live. However, as our society becomes more and more globalized, it is increasingly difficult for an artist to establish a creative position that is confident and unique. It is therefore important for the design student to investigate the establishment of a position that is informed by an awareness of the traditional and developing values of their location. This is particularly an issue in Asia which has for many years been defined, and has defined itself, as a satellite to the West. The aim of this course is to encourage in the student a personal voice, as expressed through their work, that has been illuminated by an informed study of where and when they live. Key to this course is the open yet informed approach to research and the part that it can play in the growth and development of a visual artist’s vision.

Course Outline




• Intro to course

2 - 6

• Projects: Presentations and discussions 

• What is Asian art? 

- Asian semantics of form

- Orientalism, Self Orientalism, Appropriation, Inter-culturalism etc

- Asian symbolism

- Case studies

• Research in art

- Skills, methodologies and resources

- Design thinking

- Critical analysis in art practice: methods, goals and requirements

- Documentation in art practice: approaches and goals 

- Case studies


• Mid Sem review of assignments

8 - 12

• Projects: final project

• Research into area of self-directed interest

• Identification of point of view 

• Development of design project


• Final review of assignments

Learning Outcome

The students will have developed a creative identity informed by the language, customs, signs, symbols and traditions of their cultural inheritance. 

Student Assessment

  1. Final Assessment: 40%

  2. Continuous Assessment: 60% (of which at least 15% is participation)

Continuous assessment components may include:

  • Studio-based exercises and projects

  • Individual, group and team-based assignments


  1. Ananda Kentish Coomaraswanyr, Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art, Dover Publications

  2. Ananda Kentish Coomaraswanyr, Elements of Buddhist Iconography, Havard University Press

  3. Edward Said, Orientalism, Vintage

  4. The Penguin, Dictionary of Symbols, Penguin (Non-Classics)

  5. J E Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols, London Rout