Unbox-ing Cross-Cultural Differences


Geke and Bas had a great time in India this month attending UnBox, the annual festival organised by our Indian Reach partner, Quicksand. UnBox provides a forum for inter-disciplinary reflections on how to bring about cultural change, something which ties in closely with the philosophy of open collaboration that governs much of our work here at STBY. It involves a whole range of different talks, workshops, and events, which really helps connect the issues that are looked at with the reality of life on the ground.

As part of the conference programme, Geke and Bas ran a workshop that provided a general introduction to design research principles. As part of this, they later looked in detail at the project on water usage and sustainability we designed for Southern Water. During the workshop they used some of the materials we’d designed for this project with the UnBox audience; this gave them the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with some design research tools, whilst also providing us with a snapshot of domestic water-use (and people’s perception of this) in India.


You can see some of the results in the photos attached to this page. It was a real eye-opener to see the sheer diversity of circumstance present even amongst our audience; some people using relatively little water due to using buckets rather than taps, others with several bathrooms and a ‘three flush ritual’ (before, during and after in case you were wondering).

It’s always fantastic to be able to work with the tools we’ve designed in these kinds of collaborative settings, and being able to compare some of the insights from the workshop with what we learned in the Southern Water project really brought home some of the cross-cultural differences influencing people’s behaviour. It’s great to use such a simple tool in order to uncover how people’s circumstances can differ, both within and between countries – we’re already looking forward to UnBox 2013!


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