Learning on the move: appreciating culture and design in Osaka and Sasayama

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Shizen philosophy, Contemporary design, Traditional culture, Experiential learning, Hands-on experience, Craftsmanship


In this paper we will outline our experience of teaching cultural studies and design to young students while at the same time placing the design solutions in a cultural context. Art and design are inseparable from culture and in order to fully understand design that originates overseas, we need to learn more about the culture from which it grew. After some research we were grateful to find a designer in Japan (Toshiyuki Kita) who values traditional culture and craftsmanship yet who is also committed to producing contemporary solutions that can sit comfortably within both realms.

In order to present this delicate balance to our students we then wished to find two locations in Japan that could illustrate this relationship of design and culture, one a modern metropolis and the other situated in the traditional heartland. Our chosen designer, Kita provided an opportunity to realise our plan, his office in downtown Osaka and his studio in rural Sasayama an hour and a half train ride out of the city. We planned to visit both locations to allow our students to experience firsthand how Kita San’s designs can be appreciated in either setting.

Through tutorials on site and feedback in later sharing sessions we saw how the experiences had left an indelible impression on the students. The students recognized the meaning of the two locations we had taken them to and they began to understand the relationship between design and craftsmanship. Designers work for society, they seek to satisfy society’s needs and make people feel happy.

Source Publication

The 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, 2014 Nov 17-19, Seville, Spain

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