How to be culture sensitive in design?

In a mix of lectures, hands-on design research methods, interactive workshops, and design projects we will experience and explore culture as a powerful source of inspiration in designing. You will learn to:

  • Identify culture and its role in design.
  • Recognize and understand some cultural terms.
  • Reflect on the influence of your own cultural background on design.
  • Determine methods and opportunities for applying cultural sensitivity as a tool while designing.
  • Apply insights in a design.

The Design Event will evolve around a central theme, that will fuel the different lectures and workshops, and will be the starting point for your design project. The theme will be revealed a few weeks before the event, to allow you start exploring the theme in your own, personal environment. Also, to support these preliminary explorations you will receive a dedicated tool-kit before the start of the Design Event. You will join us together with a maximum of 60 students from different design schools, internationals and from Iran.

The concept of culture

In this Design Event we will address cultural sensitivity in design projects. How will we approach the concept of culture? Culture is a complex, approached differently by a large number of disciplines. The common insight is that culture is studied with an holistic approach: all disciplines strive to see the bigger picture. There are many definitions of culture. The one that tunes and aligns well with our goal of the workshop is from Bates and Plog in 1976:

‘culture is the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours and artefacts that the members of a society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning’.

The important point here is that culture is something shared, and that it is something that is learned, and not inherited. When we look at people , we can look at them as members of groups. In general, it is likely that we group people by nations or regions, but in this international Design Event we will be more specific, for example, by viewing people as part of a specific generation, profession or gender. We may also identify some sub-cultures. Key is that we develop our sensitivity to see the different perspectives, the differences as well as the commonalities. We will offer you methods - such as the Cultura - that help designers to see this bigger picture and to benefit from it.

Finally, there are three basic principles that we believe are important: (1) cultures are dynamic, they change over time. (2) individual people can belong to different cultural groups. (3) an individual person does not necessarily represent the culture or the group, in other words what characterizes the culture cannot be applied one-to-one to an individual person.


Workshop Leaders

  • A.G.C. van Boeijen (Annemiek)

    Assistant Professor Industrial Design - section Design Aesthetics (DA)

    Annemiek van Boeijen (MSc) is an assistant professor and works fulltime for the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at the Delft University of Technology since 2000. Her research focuses on the role of culture in design processes. The aim is to develop knowledge and design methods & tools that support designers with a culture sensitive approach to design. She is the initiator and coeditor of the Delft Design Guide, also the moderator of the awarded Massive Open Online Course Product Design: The Delft Design Approach, and runs the online course for master design students and practitioners Culture Sensitive Design.

  • Dr. Ir. M.H. Sonneveld (Marieke)

    Assistant Professor Industrial Design - section Design Aesthetics (DA)

    Marieke Sonneveld is an assistant professor at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at the Delft University of Technology since 2001. Her research and education are in the field of Product Experience, focusing on the way people experience the world through their senses of touch. The goal of her research is to develop insights and tools to support designers to develop their sensitivity towards the tactual aspects of their work. Next to teaching at TUDelft, she was involved in education at the Design Academy Eindhoven, at The Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, and she is currently a visiting professor at the school of Design of the Politecnico di Milano. Next to her professional work, she volunteers in a Hospice in Rotterdam, a place for terminally ill people. This work inspired her to found the Delft Design Lab “Design for End of Life”, where students explore how design can contribute to the quality of life in its last stage.

  • Ir. C. Hao (Chen)

    PhD Candidate Industrial Design - section Design Communication and Conceptualization (DCC)

    Chen Hao is a Ph.D. candidate at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). She graduated with distinction (Cum Laude) with an MSc. Design for Interaction at TU Delft in 2013. Currently she is a member at ID-Studio Lab, TU Delft, developing contextual user research tools and techniques for designers to cross cultural boundaries in international design projects. For Chen’s research, she partners closely with companies in Europe and China, seeking to come up with people-centered design and innovation.

  • N. Soltani (Nasibeh)

    Master student Design for Interaction - Industrial Design Engineering

    Nasibeh Soltani is a last year student in the master Design for Interaction at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at the Delft University of Technology. She also graduated from the Art University of Tehran as a master of industrial design. After moving to the Netherlands, she decided to start a second master; dedicated to user experience design. Simultaneously, she worked on projects for big companies, among others, for companies in China. Currently, she is working as a user experience design intern for the KLM - Royal Dutch Airlines. Her main goal is to improve the users' experiences while flying. Her international background is an added value in these projects.

Benefits of participating in this event


Learning theory from sophisticated Professors.


Practicing the role of cultures in design.


Receiving double degree certificate.


Cooperating with International Professors and students.

Publishing work

Publishing final work in the website.


Enjoying the high quality facilities of KIC.

Registration for Workshop 2018

In order To begin the registration process

  • Process of Payment For resident participants will be done after reserve and then confirmation by Department of Industrial design of Kish International Campus, Payment must be received in advance to secure your place in the workshop. Registration is only completed when payment is received.
  • Payment should be done through account No 105825900. Tejart bank in the name of university of Tehran
  • Process of Payment For international participants will be done by Workshop Manager through international relation of Department of design.

Workshop registration fee:

For international participants the fee is 100 €, and for resident participants the fee is 12,000,000 Rials. Fee include following services in workshop early registration will include 25% discount from fee. also university of tehran students will get a 5% extra discount for early registration until aguest 22nd :

  • Participating in the workshop
  • Double degree certificate
  • Accommodation on the beautiful kish island during course.
  • Access to campus facilities such as library, restaurant, coffee shop and wifi internet
  • Access to modeling workshop
  • Entertainment schedule during the workshop such as sunset sightseeing, walking around the island leisure meeting


  • Cycling tour with breakfast
  • lunch & snacks during workshop.
  • Two-night staying in the island

Important Dates:

  • Workshop & course event: Nov 10th to 15th, 2018
  • Early registration deadline is: Aug 22nd, 2018
  • Late registration deadline is: Sep 22nd, 2018

Expected results

The workshop aims at enriching the understanding of participants on exploring and using culture as a powerful source of inspiration in designing and addressing cultural sensitivity in design projects. participants will learn to:

  • Identify culture and its role in design.
  • Recognize and understand some cultural terms.
  • Reflect on the influence of your own cultural background on design.
  • Determine methods and opportunities for applying cultural sensitivity as a tool while designing.
  • Apply insights in a design.


Dear participant,

Welcome to Designing for Cultures, the November 2018 Design Event in Kish. We are looking forward to meet you there!

The coming weeks we will send you 5 tiny tasks, to introduce you to the theme of the event, without fully revealing it yet.

You will get a tiny task every four days, and we ask you to do the task before the next one is announced on the Design Event website. In addition, you will receive some recommended readings, for further inspiration.

Please bring the results of your tasks to the Design Event. No need to send anything before hand, you will share your tiny task works on the first day with each other.

Important message: enjoy making the tasks! Feel free to do them any way you want, there is no wrong way to do it, only right ways :)

Good luck and take care!