5 August 2008

A choice for language as a key to understanding cultural context

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Today we made a little survey of the languages spoken at our office and we came to a quite remarkable seventeen: Arabic, Armenian, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Kashmiri, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu.

This is not just a trivial statistic about our office. It is a choice.

When we founded Experientia three years ago, we wanted to be an international agency with a global awareness and a Mediterranean sensitivity (after all, we are based in Italy).

We didn’t want to be literally copying the American approach to people-centred design (although all four of the founding partners have lived in the US at some point in their lives), nor did we want to be identified as just an Italian consultancy.

We believe that people-centred design implies and requires a deep understanding of cultural context. Since people’s experiences are both defined and expressed through culture and language, we put a lot of emphasis on the linguistic and cultural skills of our staff.

Therefore seventeen languages spoken is equivalent to seventeen in-depth viewpoints onto rich, local cultural contexts.

We are therefore quite pleased that the upcoming UPA Europe conference (Turin, 4-6 December) carries the subtitle “Usability and Design: Cultivating Diversity”, a byline which came about thanks to the very active involvement of our partner Michele Visciola.

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We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

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