01 October 2007

Tim Johnson points out a series of designs illustrating the differences between German and Chinese cultures. The illustrations are by Chinese-born German designer Liu Yang, whose website can be found here. The series was on exhibition at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs this past May-June. The clearest versions of the images I can find, complete with Chinese descriptions and background, is here.

Some pictures might illicit from both sides a “Haha, it’s funny cuz it’s true” reaction, such as the innocuous “beverages” - Germans are blue, Chinese are red:

But then there are other images like “Problem Solving”:

It occurs to me that some Chinese people may perceive this image as illustrating a failing in Chinese society, whereas Germans (or Westerners in general) are less likely to look at their side as problematic behavior. I think a Westerner would be far more likely to say “Of course we approach problems directly, there is no better way to do it!” than a Chinese person is likely to say “Of course we avoid confronting problems directly, there is no better way to do it!” The designs themselves provide an apt, glib comparison of East and West, but far more interesting would be to examine reactions to them.

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