Design Knowledge Intermediary
So Near and Yet so Foreign: Negotiating Touristic Experience through Design"

Submission: Closed
Opening: Closed
Closing: Closed

Chair(s): Sara Desvernine Reed, Virginia Commonwealth University Email(s): sedesvernine@vcu.edu

Cuban graphic designer Conrado Massaguer’s promotional advertisement, featuring a voluptuous Cuban woman holding maracas and boasting the slogan, “So near and yet so foreign,” was utilized by the Cuban Tourist Commission in a promotion to its U.S. neighbors in the 1950s. Today, the messages in the promotion are ironically prescient. Normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba has yielded heightened interest among U.S. citizens and already throngs of American tourists have traveled to Cuba, many of whom aim to experience Cuba “before it changes.” But what will shape their experience? Contemporary theories of tourism embrace the concept of a “tourist gaze” as the performative, embodied practices of being a tourist, which are focused on the visual, as well as other sensorial experiences. This panel seeks to address the understudied, though integral, role that design plays in tourism practices. From promotional visual material, to luggage design, to “indigenous” crafts, to hotel furniture and landscaping, how does design mediate the tourist experience? How does design normalize the tourist’s life back home by creating an experience of an other? Likewise, how does design offer a space for locals to exert agency in negotiating their representation? How does design interrogate the dichotomies that are negotiated in touristic experiences--near/far, familiar/foreign, inclusive/exclusive, comfort/discomfort, authentic/inauthentic? Papers may explore the ways in which design, as experienced by any or all of the senses, has either perpetuated the stereotypes of otherness or has contradicted and counteracted these stereotypes