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Cultural Adaption via Product Design

Publicerad: 22 april 2006

What are the design preference differences between countries? Wouldn’t it be interesting to know
how to change Scandinavian design so that it is appealing to South Koreans? These are some of
the questions that initiated a project called CulPRO.

Design for different Cultures

The project started in March 2004 and is financed
by InterReg. CulPRO is a joint operation between
Luleå Technical University and the University of
Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland. Two PhD students,
one from each university, work together on this
international project. Seven companies from
Sweden and Finland each provide a case to use in
the study.
In this project people from USA, South Korea and
Germany give their opinions on design.

Finding answers

How do you solve the problem of designing or changing the
design of a product so that it suits the people in a culture
different from your own?
To make something as subjective as design easy to
measure, real products are used as examples in the
research study. It is easier to give your opinion on design if
you have something to refer to. The products came from
the companies involved. Each product was used in one of
the three countries. To be able to compare the design
preferences between the countries, a general set of
questions was formed and used in all of the countries.
One short term goal in this project is to increase the
relations between the universities in Luleå and Rovaniemi.
Another is to enhance the universities cooperation with
companies in the northern parts of Finland and Sweden. In
a longer perspective this project aims to create methods to
be used in the design process.


A general base of knowledge will be created. This will
enable small and medium sized companies to
customize their products for foreign countries.
The research approach is to visit the selected
countries and gather information that later on will be
analyzed with different tools.
Adding to the traditional tools in this study a new
design research method will be developed. With them
the designer is able to find out the target groups
preferences. That way the product can be tuned to be
perfect for the user in the target country.


The project is presented in two licentiate thesises.

Product Design Preferences in the USA, South Korea and Germany (http://epubl.ltu.se/1402-1757/2007/21/index.html)

Design Preferences Concering exampla Products in the USA, South Korea and Germany (http://epubl.ltu.se/1402-1757/2007/22/index.html)


Maria Johansson
division of industrial design

Milla Haarakoski
division of industrial design