Postcolonial design and Mexican culture

I don’t know why I hadn’t paid attention to it before. Maybe it’s consequence of being surrounded by design philosophers, feminists, and rhetoricians as part of my PhD education. I’m talking about the postcolonial role of design in the development of the Mexican culture. I don’t have a concrete argument here, but sparse thoughts and questions. All of them are consequence, in turn, of being exposed to the architecture of some european cities I’ve had the opportunity to visit. By observing and reflecting about the architecture of Europe and Mexico, I couldn’t avoid thinking about how the hegemonic vision is imposed through design.

Puebla City Hall
Puebla City Hall. Picture taken from http://goo.gl/a1Wzdg

The (Mexican) architecture, as I imagine that it occurs all over Latin America and other colonized countries, shows such hegemonic vision. It seems that design, before and nowadays, either we talk about architecture or object design, is clearly the materialization of the hegemony. Design works as a cultural wax stamp. 

Juarez Theatre in Guanajuato
Juarez Theatre in Guanajuato. Picture taken from http://goo.gl/a1Wzdg

I just heard in the DRS 2014 Conference that, as designers, we should pay attention to the design needs of Africa and Asia due to their coming population growth, including its economic impact. Who should be in charge of these design situations? To what extent design should avoid fostering a neocolonialist vision? Is there a design vision and education emerging from not-western countries that should be taken into account? In other words, do we need to use that cultural wax stamp as safe action? How much?

Fine Arts Palace
Fine Arts Palace. Picture taken from http://goo.gl/AUGQIG

The old zones of Mexican cities show the European heritage in terms of functionality and aesthetics. Furthermore, current developments also follow modern architectural approaches influenced by developed countries. Nevertheless, Mexican cities don’t identify themselves as European cities. The Mexican flavor has developed on its own. So, why do Mexicans need to care about how the european vision has affected what they call culture? Will it make any change? Is it anyhow relevant to make a comparison with the inherited wester design and the design that mexicans are allowing to conquer them nowadays?

Morelia downtown
Morelia downtown. Picture taken from http://goo.gl/n7jrZy

I know that it might sound as an exaggeration. Too much buzz around the idea of architecture, and hence of design. Nevertheless, just by observing, reflecting, and understanding architecture as an evidence of a repeating history, it comes to my mind more doubts about the failure of design. It comes to my mind images of clumsy Mexican cities where the marginalized zones are not considered as design projects; software that is not inclusive for the heterogenous societies within the Mexican Republic; or even an image of how certain products and services might be unaccessible for people whose user or consumer profile parallels to that of people in USA or Europe.

Mansion in Merida, Yucatan
Mansion in Merida, Yucatan. Picture taken from http://goo.gl/oeWDZn

I think that Design perceived as a transformative action deserves a couple of thoughts. It changes reality, and hence, it changes us. Therefore, shouldn’t we be more critical about how other forces affect our agency?  Regardless, I’d bet that any thought about Design and its implications is just as mess; as anything that plays part of transforming the world.

Cheers!

 

The visual rhetoric of the workplace

Today I plugged an extra monitor that I have on my desk to my laptop in order to work with two Word documents at the same time. Suddenly, I couldn’t avoid to step back and put attention to the signs on, in, and around the monitor. Because of my interest on Visual Rhetoric and Semiotic, I was wondering what my visual analysis/interpretation for such image. I’ve observed in many cases that people have different arrangements at the workplace in comparison to their living rooms, bedrooms, inside of their cars, and so on.

Then, these questions came to my mind,

  • What is our workplace telling about us?
  • What are our personal spaces telling about us?
  • Is the same message for both cases?
  • If not, is there something as a “reconciliation” between them?
  • How do our workplace and personal spaces participate on constructing a discourse regarding our identity?
One corner of my desk.
One corner of my desk. Messy. Chaotic. Arranged and cleaned only when I feel that I’ve finished something relevant in my projects or coursework.

And tell me… what do you see here? Who am I?