creativity -- its importance in the era of globalization

Been reading in this area of creativity and was thinking a couple of issues:
are Asians less creative than their Caucasian counterparts ?
If so, why ? Certainly the rise of the creative class will dominate
the world but how do you cultivate creativity ? Why is it that countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore where students out perform in Math and Science and still are less creative ? Or is it ?

Cefinitely education plays a vital role here. Without the fundamentals, one cannot be putting reativity into realisation.

Why is it that countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore where students out perform in Math and Science and still are less creative ? Or is it ?

Wrong to assume here that Asian students outperform. They out perform in anything that is routine as they generally lack deep interest in the very subjects that they outperform in. Channeling energies into very narrow secords will increase perforamnce at the expense of other things that are more important.

But due the general lack of creativity in industrial design globally - asian students are able to perform well in this area as well - and perhaps outperform, as the lack of originally is an asset when it comes to rapid replay.

Creativity is linked to individual expression and innovation (rule-breaking.)
Would you associate Asian cultures with those qualities?

Too true! Plus fast-followers have business advantages over innovators.

Is design better at inventing or perfecting?

Dunno about this Asian argument. Just walking in downtown Tokyo for half and hour makes me think that the west (especially the US) is going to have it’s a** handed to it really soon in leading new idea creation.

CG and SK are right in that there’s more at play here than just the notion of creativity.

agree with what you say here after you have explain your points. Singapore has this problem too of not being truly creative. I think thats why the goverment is trying to create creativity. But I think you need a revolution to do this.

However in terms of speed, Asian students will perform very well since most are trained to answer questions. I have seen how the Koreans and the Japanese do it. Most asian students are picking up harder topics at a younger age. What is used to be a secondary(high school) topic are placed to primary school (grammar or grade school, correct me if I am wrong) students for learnng. The creative learning atmosphere is improving but not good enough.

On the other hand I notice the students in the western countries do not learn enough. I think its dangerous too. How can you be creative usefully when you do not learn enough ? There are lingering problems in education for everyone to sort out. So far the best education system is still in Nordic countries.

More later and thanks so much for the response !

I would think its perfecting looking at the situation now.
Design should be both.
And for good design to be churned out you need a way to do fast and good. Not a common trait for most people. It really need people who have an eye to observe things very well.

right on.

asian culture focus more on obedience which is good for social cohesian depending on the situation. But no good for innovation.
Where should we strike a balance ?

I recall a Taiwanese named Long yintai who said she prefered chaos to total sense of order. I can see where she is deriving at but social chaos can mean catastrophe too. I had this conversation with a ex ceo for a British bank situated in Africa and he feels that those who had not seen what is chaos don’t understand what chaos and mess means.

One of the greatest period of European Civilization is the renaissance. There was total Chaos at the heart of it, intrigues, political instability and great social change. Da Vinchi him self had to keep moving constantly due to these instabilities (and his own).

But in the same period. Switzerland had 500 years of brotherly love - and all they produced is the cuckoo clock - this is not my observation, but seems to be true.

So chaos is great for creativity provided that it has the right ingredients. You see the great talents of Africa in music. Design is a different ball game related more closely to the whims and fancies of dominant nations. In my humble opinion, the parts of Asia that are rapidly growing economically by playing the catch up game well are doing the same with design. That’s depressing.

They are doing design homework like school kids and asking the teacher for good marks. They are getting good marks now, They love education – only when it comes to improving economic status. They relish the grades… Other than their contribution to re-enforcing dominant design culture, their own contribution to design may continue to be abysmal.

First of all, it seems that his disgussion has turned into Asian vs western creativity, and nothing about gobalization.

From wikipeida:

Globalization refers to increasing global connectivity, integration and interdependence in the economic, social, technological, cultural, political, and ecological spheres.

To me, there is still a long way to go for real talent globalization. If fact, I think this whole thing about globalization is a joke. So far, it’s just been a tool which more dominant countries use to benefit itself internationally. Eg. Japan forced to import rice from USA. Japan never need foreign supply of rice, but USA needs to sell its rice somewhere, so… oh well :confused:

Then let’s look at global talent flow. It takes a crap load of trouble to obtain a working visa in USA and EU countries, whereas it’s much easier for westerners to obtain similar rights in Asian countries. Since we are talking about singapore, Singapore offers scholarship to students from south east asia, china and hong kong from secondary school level and up(middle school in US standards). That means, they import very talented foreign students into its local educational environment to faciliate the interaction between the locals and these talented students. This also helps the foreign talents to settle in Singapore, creating a win-win situation. On top of that, Singapore’s Bio-polis encourages foreign bio-tech companies to set up research centers in Singapore. Naturally this will create opportunities for the locals to venture into this field.

The way I see this is, Asian countries are very well aware of its talent “deficiency” and is trying to create opportunities to draw talents from wherever it is available. It seems that the western world see it more as a form of “intrusion”. Of course, this is an extreme way of looking at this issue, but it also leads me to think about the distribution of “talent” globally in the future. This is something that western designers have been questioning a lot in recent years.

I have to make a comment on this. Creativity is not about rule breaking. If so, then all the convicts in prisons will be considered “creative”?

Creativity is about creating new opportunities from the existing system. This may result in a new system though.

In asia’s rigid social system, creativity is definitely more difficult because it’s built on the belief of what has already worked and are working. However, this also creates endless opportunities for innovations. Asians aren’t necessarily non-creative. They just don’t think about “the benefit of man-kind” when they do so, therefore, Japanese are better in gadget techs whereas Americans work on space adventures, inventing mattresses that will give humanity good night sleeps :stuck_out_tongue:

Chinese(Taiwanese, HK etc) tend to be innovative in small ways which often lead to inconsiderations for the people around them. These “innovations” are embedded in their daily lives, and therefore don’t make it onto the front pages of international media.

Taiwanese farmers are excellent in improving fruit breeds to make them taste better. They aren’t educated. Most of them have an education level of elementry school, but the creative nature of these people inspired them to create the strangest but wonderful fruits of all time using little techology, but great logics. The government then export their agricultural know-how to under developed countries as diplomatic incentives

Japanese are also innovative in small ways, but they think about the general good of the society, and therefore, their collective efforts turn these small innovations into significant impacts. Small things like their recycling system within communities, to introducing the “women only” subway cabins, to the retired farmer who became an expert in curing cows’ misplaced 4th stomach, and now teaching Taiwanese farmers how to save their cows instead of having to kill them.

We don’t hear much about these local innovations, because they don’t seem to be significant enough to affect our future in big ways. However when you put them together, you will see a huge potential in the un-noticed creativity.

I hope that this discussion is not about if Asians are innovative, have brains , that kind of stuff,… That is boring.

Asia is now a manufacturing power house. It has technology, great diversity of culture, growing markets and great opportunities. The interesting question is why is that no great design is happening?

I think it is because :

  1. No diversity of aspirations
  2. Mistaking good design with prize winning designs
  3. Mistaking design with styling
  4. Lack of confidence
  5. Tendency to seek comfort in boredom
  6. Tendencey to run very fast in very narrow lanes
  7. Eargerness to accept and internalize well extablished set of ideals
    :sunglasses: The love of winning prizes (from those who love giving prizes for following thier bad examples)

not willing to break the rules.
not willing to change.

We also tend to associate design directly with the brand it is associated with, whereas many of these branded goods are actually ODM in Asia.

Maybe we should also consider the factor of branding, because some brands are definitely more known for its design than others.

However branding has always been a weak field for Asian(Japan aside) companies. Look at the BenQ example. Acer separated from BenQ initially because they had to secure their OEM business with foreign named brand clients. BenQ recently further separated its OEM division from the brand because of the same reason. It is almost a sign of defeat.

Then we have Philips which has most of its studios in Asia(Sg, HK and Taiwan) where most of their consumer electronics are designed. However, it is afterall, Philips- an European brand from Europe.

I have a thermo flask which wows people wherever I carry it to. People just come up to me to check it out. It’s designed in Taiwan and made in Malaysia, but carries a Japanese brand. So naturally people will give the credit to the Japanese.
Great designs are happening in Asia, but like you said, Asians measure the greatness of a design differently from the west.

A few years ago, Taiwan was trying to promote “Designed in Taiwan”, but hasn’t seen much impact internationally. Within the country, design certainly has gained much publicity, but people still don’t understand the true value of design beyond IF awards.

I would question this, yes their engeneering and manufacturing studios and facilities are there. But I have worked on numerous programs over the past 5 yrs with Phillips (both consumer and medical), and every project the coresponding design studio I was working with was either in Germany, The Netherlands, but most often Indiana, (now closed and moved to Atlanta) Atlanta, New York, Seatle, and Paris. Only the manufacturing designers (engineers), and the mold designers call/fly in from HK or Mainland China

But then again I have had various Chinese manufacturing companies contract me to develop lines of home decor, and appliances that they could then try to license to the companies using them for manufacturing. Mostly lighting and ceiling fans. They had a couple hundred “designer” CAD specialist mainly that were excelent at copying and making Me2 products, but as the VP said “Can’t understand the American home”.

I personally do not see it as an issue of creativity, just an understanding of the cultural biases and preferences. As well as a way of seeing the world and the people, products, and problems around you. Some focus on only seeing the quick and easy, some on the near term, some but too few on the whole global implecations of the problem and more importantly the proposed solutions.

BTW: credit going to the company is common with clients of large staus in some industries, especially if they market the fact that they are swiss, german, parisan, etc. Some suce companies will contract outside firms, but in a ghost writer fasion. You can not mention them…ever. You can not claim any part of the design…ever, and they will recieve all the press. I have a few of these, but I was freelancing on the side and they were in catagories that I loved to work on so…Just knowing that two of these products have won a total of 5 international awards is enough for me…well and they gave me 10 free. ($200-$500 each) But they were designed in the US, and Engineered in Paris…yet everyone belives them to entirly from another european country of exacting standards.

quikie here: even if the topic was actually about asian and western thinking, it would be an interesting topic. It ibvolves a lot of debate about how different cultures think. of course if you were to talk only about asians its not as exciting. But Asia has a lot of interesting culture to learn. That itself cannot be that monotonous.

2 cents here.

thanks sk for the invaluable insight ! cheers :slight_smile:

totally agree here.
Also I would like to add that creativity also grows admidst more difficult situations. Genuinely new thinking is something that no one could think of except from the originator.

Yo simply need people with a unique visiion. Perhaps a 'quirky’way of doing things and a wisdom of what to do and what not to do.
Its really more skills in a difficult situation.