The purpose of this paper is to investigate into the unique position of Hong Kong, both geometrically and culturally, as a blender of Western and Eastern cultures, and create design principles and solution for multi-lingual and multi-cultural information design.
Having a history as a British colony for over 150 years, Hong Kong has become an interesting hybrid of Western and Eastern cultures where new forms of visual communication have been evolved and developed. New words, new letterforms, contradicting reading patterns and unique graphic icons are designed with characteristic of both cultures.
Chinese letterforms are evolved basically from pictograms that represent objects, actions, events and sounds. Every Chinese character has its own meaning, or even has more than one meaning. This is very different from roman alphabets where the meaning of words comes from the combination of letters but not from individual alphabet. Therefore it is interesting to see how the two languages come together in bilingual conditions. It could be a burden, but the chemistry could also be inspirational.
Hong Kong has her reputation of being flexible and adaptive. Hong Kong people, with their wisdom and energy, extract essential parts of western and eastern cultures and blend together in any ways they see fit. This is interesting and especially obvious in local living experience and daily life of Hong Kong citizens. Examples could be found in signage system, magazine design, charts and diagrams and in menu design, etc.
The situation is becoming more complicated after hand-over to Mainland China after 1997. Hong Kong is moving from bi-lingual city to tri-lingual if not multi-lingual. Simplified Chinese has been added to the list of common written language under English and Traditional Chinese. The information hierarchy and visual balance in typographic design becomes great challenges for information designers.
Hong Kong has its own complex contextual information structure because of its high urban density and mixture of population from all over the world. Like other modern cosmopolitan cities, Hong Kong is overflowed with information and visual signals, and many of them are more of visual noise than useful information. Information designers have to develop new tactics and methodologies in design so as to maintain the accuracy and relevancy of information itself but at the same time to stand out from the rest of the world and arouse the attention of audience.
Are there rules and principles in information design that we can innovate when we need to blend different cultures together seamlessly?
In the debate of Globalization Vs Localization, what is the balance between preserving strong local c