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  • Designing Global Innovation: Silk Road, Belt and Road Initiative Transcultural Research

Cheng, Shuxin and Hall, Ashley, eds. 2019, Book, Designing Global Innovation: Silk Road, Belt and Road Initiative Transcultural Research Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China.

Abstract or Description:

For centuries the silk road (SR) acted as a conveyor carrying information, trade, beliefs, philosophies, goods, religions and cultural influences, in a network that spanned much of Europe and Asia between the second century BCE to the 15th century CE. The impact of these exchanges alongside the maritime silk road were formative in kick starting globalised trade and later on the industrial revolution. Silk, porcelain, gunpowder, spices, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, paper, gold, glassware and astronomy to name but a few things exchanged across this network of routes. Changing climate, politics and the reduced cost and speed of sea transport amongst other things led to the decline of the silk road as a major influencer of cultural exchange and development. However, in 2013 Chinese president Xi Jinping announced the One Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) during visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, an ambitious $1 trillion project to create a 21st century supercharged win-win global trade infrastructure that would again revive the economic benefits and cultural exchanges.

Our project is an initial probe aiming to uncover the main design research questions and themes where strategic design led innovation can learn lessons from silk road histories and exchanges and apply these as inspirations for tackling some of the issues and opportunities that are emerging from the belt and road initiative. Much of the public discussion has been around the economic and infrastructure benefits of the BRI however as with the silk road we can anticipate that the longer-term impacts that endure over time may well prove to be cultural.

Our findings have identified six initial thematic areas including future city energy, cultural misunderstandings, co-robotics, climate change, food culture and technology transfer that will each be illustrated through a concluding design project and disseminated through an exhibition at CAFA, a project book, a book chapter in an upcoming publication on design innovation methods in China and a project documentary. In terms of teaching, the main challenge arose from the long durations of travel which meant that much of the project development was verbal formed through discussion. Unusually for a design project there was little time for in-depth visual work and this has end-loaded the creative methods for design outputs.

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W240 Industrial/Product Design
School or Centre: School of Design
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2019 17:12
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2019 15:10
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4080

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