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Transcultural Design


Transcultural Design reconceptualises heritage techniques in order to promote cultural sustainability and seek new models of collaborative practices for properly engaging communities. Addressing the question of ownership and exploitation of colonised cultures, it uses design strategies to explore cultural awareness and reconciliation. In doing so it connects divergent practices and conceptions of culture, like craft, value systems, heritage, and tradition, to stimulate their current and future economic and cultural growth.

Applying previously acquired knowledge to research on particular cases (e.g. fieldwork, craftmanship, interviews, desktop research, place-based learning etc), the students are encouraged to challenge cutting-edge processes to enhance the value of authenticity and to envision future scenarios for a transcultural-design attitude without losing the impressive legacy and identity of the local cultural know-how. Moreover, the unit values exploring the potential of integrating digital and advanced manufacturing processes informed by novel technologies (such as laser cutting, 3D printing, Arduino coding, soft wearables, etc.) into the traditional production of artefacts. The outcomes may include creating independent self-sustaining livelihood systems or challenging our contemporary viewpoint of living with tradition through design concepts, products and services of digital or manual innovation.

  • Co-design

  • Cultural appropriation

  • Decolonization

  • Indigenous knowledges

  • Innovation through technology

  • Transculturation

  • Respectful collaborative practices

Student’s Pre-Requisite Skills and Knowledge

Overview of sustainable business models; critical thinking; traditional craftsmanship processes; collaborative skills

Learning Goals


Understand the issues of cultural appropriation and decolonization in the field of fashion and textiles, social challenges, multi-disciplinary approaches.


Systems thinking, collaboration, empathy, challenge solving, future scenarios, interdisciplinary learning.

Pedagogical Approaches

Place based learning, critical thinking, informed decision making

Key Resources
  • Bertola, P.; Vacca, F., Colombi, C.; Iannilli, V.; Augello, M.; “The Cultural Dimension of Design Driven Innovation. A Perspective from the Fashion Industry” in The Design Journal, Vol. 19, Issue 02, Taylor & 

  • Francis, 2016, pp. 237 - 251. ISSN 1460-6925 (Print), 1756-3062 (Online)

  • Latouche, S. Farewell to Growth. Cambridge: Polity Press. 2010

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