Fostering Creative Competency and Value between China and Australia via Multi-Disciplinary and Cross-Cultural Design Workshops

Fanke Peng and Lisa Scharoun (UC)
2017 Conference

This paper discusses ways of fostering people-to-people connections in the creative industries between Australia and China, through a series of multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural workshops and exhibitions in both countries to engage creative practitioners and companies to foster partnerships and to increase cultural awareness amongst students in the areas of arts, design and health. Not only is China a leading exporter in the global market, it is also a rising importer of cultural products and services. A burgeoning middle class is boosting up creative consumption. China’s government is shifting its policy focus from “made in China” to “created in China”. As a result, Chinese governments and industries are actively engaging overseas partners for collaboration to pursue a new configuration of value.

With the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Australian creative practitioners are well placed to engage with China specifically in the area of design for health and the aged population. An imbalanced ageing population is a growing concern not only in China but also globally and designers are well placed to create new design solutions to address concerns in the area of care services, urban environments and products for healthy ageing. However, the lack of knowledge about local language, culture and business practice presents a major barrier for Western companies and students to reach the potential of Chinese opportunities. To address this barrier, this paper reflects on a series of workshops and exhibitions via a partnership between the UC Cross-Cultural Design Lab, Cheung Kong School of Art and Design, the South China Agricultural University, South China Normal University, Guangxi Arts University, Shantou University, and Monash University. Another layer of the workshop program is connecting Australian and Chinese creative practitioners with students and practitioners in the area of Health Sciences. This type of multi-disciplinary collaboration can bring about new knowledge and understanding of each other’s’ respective cultures and give them skills on how to work together effectively from the perspective of different cultural and disciplinary backgrounds. The ultimate goal of this paper is to introduce ways of working between cultures to create objects, designed environments and new services that will be of value to a global audience to stimulate new areas of creative production between cultures.

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About the author

Fanke Peng is the co-founder of the Cross-Cultural Design lab and course convener of Fashion at the University of Canberra. She is an international award-winning designer and researcher, with a research focus on digital fashion and health in the global creative economy, design strategy, design thinking and seamless online and offline shopping experience. She was a research fellow at the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London.

Dr. Lisa Scharoun is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design and the founder and Director of the Cross Cultural Design Lab at the University of Canberra in Canberra, Australia. Lisa worked in London as a graphic and interior designer and has previously held the position of head of the graphic design discipline at Deakin University in Melbourne and senior lecturer in the visual communications department at Raffles Design Institute in Shanghai, China. She was a top 10 finalist in the 2013 Bill and Melinda Gates “Records for Life” competition and was awarded a prize for the design she created to assist mothers in developing countries to remember to vaccinate their children. The Australian Paralympic committee commissioned her to create motivational posters for Australian Paralympic Athletes for the 2016, 2014 and 2012 Paralympic Games. Lisa’s digital photographic design work has won numerous international awards such as the JM Cameron Prize for Women’s Photography and the Prix de la Photographie Paris. Recent publications include the books: Cross Cultural Design (Beijing Electronics Press 2016) and America at the Mall: the cultural role of a retail utopia (McFarland 2012).