Journal Article

Defining the Design Deficit in Bangladesh

Lisa S. Banu

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 22, issue 4, pages 309-323
Published in print December 2009 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online December 2009 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI:
Defining the Design Deficit in Bangladesh

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  • History of Art
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  • Industrial and Commercial Art
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Prompted by a 2003 Design Without Borders (DwB) report entitled ‘Design for Export-Oriented Production in Developing Countries: Case Bangladesh’, which identifies a glaring lack of export-oriented design, this article considers the implications of a defined design deficit for Bangladesh and for design history. It argues that the development of both Bangladeshi industrial design and design history depends on culturally negotiated definitions of design in the context of post-colonial social development. Two approaches help develop design discourse attentive to local identity premised on global exchangeability. First, a history of design and social development based on the works of Victor Papanek, Gui Bonsiepe and Victor Margolin contextualizes the social problem of a design deficit. Second, the philosophical perspectives of Theodor Adorno's principle of negation and Hannah Arendt's political assessment of work, together present a theoretical framework for post-colonial cultural negotiations about definitions of design and history. Supported by these disciplinary and philosophical approaches, this article concludes with a suggested framework and three product examples that begin a study of textile design in Bangladesh. In defining a design deficit in Bangladesh, the DwB report defines a discursive deficit in the standard definition of design and consequently design history.

Keywords: Bangladesh; cultural nationalism; design history; development; history of decorative arts; post-colonialism

Journal Article.  8321 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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