Ruedi Baur, Ulrike Felsing

Researching Visual Application Respectful of Cultural Diversity

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Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / June 2016 3(1)


The general intention of this paper is to provide insight into a problematic area, that of visual application respectful of cultural diversity, and to demonstrate the relevance of graphic design research in a societal environment. The paper presents methods and results from two completed research projects in the field of intercultural visual communication. The key findings of Research Project 1 are methods of multilingual typography communicated by type specimens and text samples, annotations on books, visual examples from Chinese designers and texts. The most important results of Research Project 2 are visually communicated by 120 newly drawn infographics. In addition, a new research plan will be discussed, namely the development of visual identities for public institutions that implement cultural and social diversity policies. The proposed design methods in all three projects respond to the complexity of changing social requirements and forms of communication. They have been developed through visual applications of design that focus on the approach called “research through design.” The fundamental research goal is to practice sovereign interaction, also with visual differences, and thus counters the tendency of globalization and commercialization to equalize differences.

Keywords: diversity; globalization; intercultural visual communication; multilingual typography; public institution; visual identity.

Biographical notes

Ruedi Baur (HEAD, Geneva School of Art and Design, Switzerland)

Ruedi Baur examines concrete design questions in social contexts, fundamentally oriented toward the development of an accountable design approach. He was engaged in this capacity at the Institute for Design Research in Zurich, which he directed from 2004 to 2011 together with Stefanie-Vera Baur Kockot and Clemens Bellut. He specializes in the design of public spaces and has developed internationally recognized projects with Intégral Ruedi Baur et Associés. He is professor at the School of Art and Design, Geneva (HEAD); the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (ENSAD); the Percé International School, Quebec, Canada; and the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts, Dalian, China.

Ulrike Felsing (HEAD, Geneva School of Art and Design, Switzerland)

Ulrike Felsing studied visual communication at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig. Her diploma thesis was awarded the Dresdner Bank Leipzig art prize, Ars Lipsiensis, and presented in the Signes des écoles d‘art exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Together with Ruedi Baur, she directed the project “Researching design methods in the area of transcultural visual communication,” which was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (2010-2015). As author she has researched and published on the subject of Dynamic visual identities (Lars Müller Publishers, 2009). Since 2010 Felsing has been a lecturer at the Bern University of the Arts.