Design democratisation and its understandings through the meaning of the word “design” in Portuguese colonised countries
Amaral, Carla, Taboada, Manuela B., & Chamorro-Koc, Marianella (2014) Design democratisation and its understandings through the meaning of the word “design” in Portuguese colonised countries. In Design with the other 90% : Cumulus Johannesburg Conference Proceedings, Greenside Design Centre and University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa, pp. 162-168.
This paper explores the literature and analyses the different uses and understandings of the word “design” in Portuguese colonised countries, using Brazil as the main example. It investigates the relationship between the linguistic existence of terms to define and describe “design” as an activity and field, and the roles and perceptions of Design by the general society. It also addresses the effects that the lack of a proper translation causes on the local community from a cultural point of view. The current perception of Design in Portuguese colonies is associated to two main aspects: linguistic and historical. Both of them differentiate the countries taken into consideration from other countries that have a different background. The changes associated to the meaning of “design” throughout the years, caused a great impact on the perceptions that people have about Design. On the other hand, the development of Design has also influenced the changes on the meaning of the term, as a result of the legacy from the colonisation period and also as a characteristic of the Portuguese language. Design has developed and reached a level of excellence in Portuguese colonised countries that competes with the most traditional Design cultures in the world. However, this level of Design is enmeshed into an elite belonging to universities and specialised markets, therefore Design is not democratised. The ultimate aim of this study is to promote discussions on how to make the discourse surrounding this area more accessible to people from non-English speaking countries that do not have the word “design” in their local language.
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