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Cultural Product Design Framework

Dr. Irini Pitsaki

Design thinking and knowledge is introduced as a frame for action and a holistic approach to project and product development in the sectors of culture (e.g. publishing, cinematography, the performing arts, the music industry and the museums). A series of conceptual models and concepts definitions are formulated based on design and design management principles, as well as, the understanding of the nature of products and services that derive from a cultural organisation.

This project contributes to the understanding of the role of design in the cultural sectors, how design is currently used and how a more integral approach could lead to innovation.


Design is considered as the spinal process of all kinds of product development undertaken by for-profit or non-profit organizations. The present research brings design into the realm of cultural organizations -such as museums, galleries, art institutions, cultural centres or publishing houses- and examines how its deeper understanding could contribute to their performance. Cultural organizations are responsible for the development of cultural products; they prepare and appropriately gather works to be offered to the market (e.g. converting some texts in to a book series, or several paintings into a thematic exhibition). In addition, based on the definition of cultural products as “products that derive from a creative and/or intellectual act” (F. Colbert & M. Cuadrado, 2003: 17), we can come up with further examples: a dance, a theatrical or musical work, a painting exhibit, a movie or a television program, an event, a magazine, an electronic publication, a performance, an online exhibition, a concert, a 3D graphics representation of cultural heritage, a fashion show, a video game and all kinds of outcomes from the cultural industries. As design is usually at the heart of any product development, the following question could be posed: What role does design play in the case of cultural products and how the knowledge of designers could be used to improve results in the space of culture?

What We Did

We reviewed current literature of design, design management, cultural studies, cultural marketing and management. We compared concepts, ideas, arguments and we established parallelisms between what designers say-do and what cultural product developers say-do. We created a framework for better integration of design in the cultural sectors, which includes new concepts and practical suggestions. We tasted the framework through case studies and completed cultural projects. We improved and validated the framework through interviews with practitioners, such as designers of museums, cultural managers, curators, publishers and others.

Who will benefit

Any cultural organisation that uses design and considers it an integral element of its offer. Any scholar interested in the role and interconnections of design practice, design knowledge and design thinking with culture. Any practitioner in the cultural sector that believes design could bring about value for innovative performance.


1. Rieple A, Pitsaki I (2011). The strategic Role of Design in Cultural Products. Cambridge Academic Design Management Conference Proceedings, Sep 7-8 2011, University of Cambridge (Plenary Session Presentation)

2. Pitsaki I. (2011). Strategic Brand Management Tools in Publishing. The International Journal of the Book. CG, Australia Volume 7, Issue 2, pp. 85-96.

3. Pitsaki I. (2010). Understanding design for cultural organizations performance. The International Journal of Design Principles and Practices. Common Ground, Volume 4, pp. 10-22.

4. Pitsaki I. (2010). Brand Concepts in Publishing. The International Journal of the Book. CG, Australia Volume 7, Issue 2, pp. 85-96.

5. Pitsaki I, Rieple A (2011). DESIGN MANAGEMENT IN SERVICES: a Case Study of the Design Management Competences Used in a Museum Exhibition that Focused on Increasing Social Inclusion. Cambridge Academic Design Management Conference Proceedings, Sep 7-8 2011

6. Pitsaki I. (2008). Strategic Publishing Brands Management. The International Journal of the Book. CG, Australia, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp. 105-114.