Design Exchange of Chinese Qing Dynasty Dragon Robes and Western Fashions: Toward a Theory of Design
Throughout history, the designs of one culture have influenced the designs of another culture. One notable recurring example of cross-cultural design exchange is the use of the design elements of Chinese dress in western fashions. The purpose of this qualitative study is an analysis of the use of Chinese Qing dragon robe design elements in western fashions and the relevance to the development of a theory of design. For this project more than 150 images of historic and contemporary fashions from the 19th through the 21th centuries were collected from numerous sources such as museum exhibits, the internet, magazines, runways, red-carpet events, and texts that exhibited shared design elements of Chinese dragon robes and western fashions. In a comparative analysis of the design elements of style, silhouette, color, textile patterns, motif, line, embroidery and utility in the images, several observations were made. Findings relate to recurrence of design exchange, use of the design elements, styles, and transformed designs and meaning. The findings add to the theory of design, development of the design discipline and field of comparative aesthetics. The meaning of dress defined by culture is established. Design occurs within cultural boundaries. Therefore, the design process and how design elements of one culture are used by another culture to create new designs is also defined by culture. This evidence further adds to developing a theory of design.