Designing worlds national design : histories in an age of globalization
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Design is simultaneously global, regional, national and local (Calvera 2005), and it has been so at least since the dramatic increase in intercontinental trade and travel in the fifteenth century. The Silk Road and the transatlantic slave trade are examples of the pre-modern and early modern globalization of commerce associated with the development of similarly global channels of communication about goods and their design and manufacture. Today, the cars we celebrate as ‘Italian’, for example, could just as well be designed by Britons and Brazilians and manufactured in Poland and Pakistan, on behalf of multi-national owners, for markets in Switzerland and Swaziland. But while design might be more global than ever before, it is still conditioned by, and in turn informs, its global, regional, national and local contexts at once. Technological developments, including the world wide web, digital cloud services and CADCAM, enable collaboration between automotive designers, for example, working anywhere from Delhi and Detroit to Dubai, but however well-travelled the designers themselves might be, they operate from within physical contexts in which local, regional and national as well as international factors are active.
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