This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Culture in Design: The Analysis of Culture through Semiotics and its role in the Automotive Industry




Morley, Matthew

Type of Degree



Industrial Design


With over 60 million automobiles being produced in 2013, the amount of time and energy that goes into the automotive design process is extremely valuable. Billions of dollars are spent on research and development to ensure that new vehicles will be a success. With the emergence of new markets around the world this is a challenging task. Currently, many automotive companies are experiencing declining revenue and difficulty breaking into these new markets. One of the main reasons for this challenge is that the vehicles they are producing are not designed with specific cultures in mind, merely slightly modified vehicles built from one global design language. The objective of this study will be to create a new design approach where culture takes a leading role in the design process. By researching cultures individually with the assistance of semiotics, the characteristics of any given culture will be broken down to its base level and then translated with semiotics into a tangible process to apply to design. By exploring the uniqueness of the chosen culture the outcome of this study will infuse this new design approach with the richness of cultural diversity. The globalization of companies and information has been rapidly spreading since the birth of the internet in the late 1980s. This globalization connects different cultures all over the world, making all cultures susceptible to outside influences and trends. While larger companies and the media seem to tell the public what is acceptable and in style, this study is in juxtaposition and aims to prove this trend irrelevant. By implementing this new design approach to the automotive design process, this study also stands to show how this culturally infused product will connect with the consumer on a more substantial level. This connection should establish a stronger bond between product and consumer, proving more meaningful in value and in turn increasing revenue.