In Summary

An international research grant is giving two Swinburne academics the opportunity to travel to Asia and train students from universities in China and India on the theories and methods behind design anthropology.

Associate Professor Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall and Dr Karen Hughes are the recipients of the Wenner-Gren Foundation International Collaborative research grant. Tunstall will work with 48 students from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts and the Indian National Design Institute –Ahmedabad, to increase awareness and understanding of the emerging design anthropology discipline (how design translates cultural values into experiences to which people can directly respond).

The $37,000 grant will enable Tunstall and Hughes to conduct two design anthropology workshops, as well as visiting the indigo dying and weaving field sites of Professor Hang Hai in China and Vilvapathy Sakhtivel in India.

 Associate Professor Tunstall said that she was looking forward to visiting Asia to inspire and share her passion for design anthropology with her enthusiastic Chinese and Indian colleagues and their postgraduate design and anthropology students.

“Dr Hughes and I are especially excited to receive recognition from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the peak granting body for international anthropological research.”

 Swinburne Dean of Design, Professor Scott Thompson-Whiteside, said that the grant will enable Swinburne to strengthen connections with top Asian design universities.

“I’m delighted that Associate Professor Tunstall has secured the grant to establish a deeper research relationship between Swinburne and two great design institutions- the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, and the Indian National Design Institute –Ahmedabad.

“I’m confident that the project will produce some exciting outcomes and facilitate a greater understanding of natural dying and colouring techniques between indigenous cultures of Australia, India and China,” Professor Thompson-Whiteside said.

Associate Professor Tunstall and Dr Hughes will embark on the first of their trips to India in October and during that visit they will spend time exploring the experiences of Indian workers and designers who produce and use indigo dyes. Their second trip to India, which will depart in May 2015, will be focused on the workshop with postgraduate students. They will depart for their visit and workshop to China in September 2015.

The research into natural dyeing techniques, sustainability, and cultural change is part of the ongoing Living Blue Project, which is a joint project between Swinburne, the Indian National Institute of Design—Ahmedabad and China Central Academy of Fine Arts.

Design Anthropology can be studied at Swinburne at a Graduate Diploma or a Masters level.