menu

frog: The Alienation And ‘Otherness’ Of Global Culture

frog: The Alienation And ‘Otherness’ Of Global Culture
Advertising

A marketer experiences strong 'unheimlichkeit,' or alienation, while in a super-modern hotel in Beijing.

frog
  • 19 october 2011

“So, what is the reason for your existence?” the German professor at a Chinese business school reception in Shanghai asked me, to start a conversation. I felt like ad man Don Draper in the TV seriesMad Men when his false identity is unveiled. Who are you really? Caught off guard, I answered: “I’m a marketer.” The conversation moved on, others had wittier sound bites to contribute, and my unease continued. It had been weighing on me since I had put my foot on Chinese soil a few days earlier, and here in this beautiful mansion, confiscated by the government from the corrupt former mayor of Shanghai, it was a steady companion.

You may think that the homogenized cosmopolitan settings of the tier one cities Beijing and Shanghai would seem familiar and comforting to a seasoned Western business traveler like me, but this time the glitzy, uber-capitalist façade did not alleviate my profound sense of dislocation and alienation. I was a stranger and everything was strange to me. This sentiment was exacerbated when I checked into theOpposite House, a chic designer hotel in Beijing’s Sanlitun village district that literally comprises of two opposing halves, each housing generous rooms, connected through a vast space underneath, which is used as both art gallery and lobby. Designed by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and catering to the ‘global soul,’ it was meant to make you feel at home in an open, accessible space of kindness, but it did the opposite to me. It manifested the Otherness of my being here, in the heart of this strange city, with other strangers, who, like me, probably had no clue and so, like me, just marveled at the strangeness of it all.

It occurred to me that the Opposite House was a metaphor for some of the issues I had been pondering for the past few months. “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, and while his words were infinitely wise, I thought that a more intelligent mind than mine may very well hold the two opposites, in Beijing or anywhere, but perhaps even the most intelligent mind would not necessarily be happy in doing so. It’s hard to be happy if you are denied a happy ending, and it’s an unpleasant, arduous task to withstand the temptation to reconcile dual or multiple truths. We are hardwired to believe – and to believe in one truth.

Continue reading here.

[Written by Tim Leberecht. Reprinted with kind permission from design mind, a publication of global innovation firm frog.]

design mind is a publication of global innovation firm frog that is updated daily to keep the design and innovation community updated with fresh perspectives on industry trends, emerging technologies, and global consumer culture. Learn more about design mind and frog.

Advertising
Trending

Editorial Roundtable: What A People-First Workplace Must Prioritize First

Work
Syndicated Yesterday

What Could The Highway Of The Future Look Like?

As technology for automated vehicles improves, there’s a sharper focus on building a ‘smarter’ infrastructure where they can thrive

Design Yesterday

Plastic Wind Trees Are Bringing Sustainable Power To Residential Homes

These French-made turbines are offering a small, aesthetically pleasing approach to affordable personal energy

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Home Yesterday

Dyson’s Wi-Fi Connected Fan Purifies, Cools & Heats The Air

The new luxury home appliance aims to be an all-in-one device for the connected home

Education Yesterday

Bringing Virtual Reality And Telepresence Robotics To E-Learning

This Learning Management System is embracing new technologies to reallocate teaching resources to where they should be going

Advertising Yesterday

Brewing Company Turns Car Emissions Into Ink

Tiger Beer has created a sustainable process to transform air pollution into supplies for street art

Design Yesterday

Space-Saving Sofa Has Extra Furniture Hidden Inside

Living in an apartment with limited space? This three-in-one bed transforms based on your needs

Culture Yesterday

Browser Extension Blocks Any Pages That Make You Unhappy

The software can detect your facial movements and prevent content that brings up negative emotions

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 23, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Automotive Yesterday

Reserve Your Parking Spot Before You Even Get Behind The Wheel

A new Ford app allows drivers to select and arrange for a space in a garage to be available at the end of their journey, so they can travel worry-free

Work Yesterday

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: The Desk Is Becoming An Ecosystem Of Satellite Workstations

Our Future of Work vision is an app that frees employees from the tyranny of a static desk

Food Yesterday

A Tiny Amount Of This Powder Could Block All The Bitterness In Food

A new substance made from mushrooms can bond with taste receptors on your tongue to overcome unpleasant flavors

Asia Yesterday

Whimsical Dental Clinic Design Aims To Calm Patient Fears

Cheerful colors and a nod to the comforts of home are design elements tactfully aimed to help people relax

Mobile Yesterday

Messenger Service Only Delivers You Updates Three Times A Day

Formal is a new app designed to help people ignore the constant stream of texts from their phone and focus on what's in front of them

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Design Yesterday

Movable Vacation House Constructed Using Concrete Boxes

The 4,000 square foot building is made up of modular frames so it can be relocated if needed due to coastline erosion

Design Yesterday

Redesigned Electric Fan Collapses For Easy Storage

Conbox can be kept in pieces and packed away when not in use

Ai Yesterday

LawyerBot Is Now Helping Homeless People Qualify For Government Housing

This robot helps people get out of parking tickets and provides free legal advice to those in need

No search results found.