Cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity
Cultural Identity: Hmong American
On the day she was born, she was taught that she was Hmong by the adults around her. As a baby learning to talk, her mother and father often asked, “What are you?” and the right answer was always, “I am Hmong.” It wasn’t a name or a gender, it was a people.
Hmong is an ethnic group of people from SouthEast Asia and Southern China. They do not come from a specific country. Growing up in America, Hmong Americans had very few representations in mainstream media therefore they are usually trying to adapt to the American culture. Because of this, many Hmong Americans experience an identity crisis.
I feel like my ethnicity is inferior to others so trying to represent myself or prove to others or make something out of yourself would be worth something. So representation goes a long way... Hopefully that encourages [the Hmong Americans] to do better or more.
I want to solve this identity crisis by creating a product line that draws inspiration from the Hmong culture and implement it in a way that shows the culture in a more modern approach. First thing that I thought of that almost every Hmong grew up with is a 'khwj teev" (kue theng), or a Hmong stool.
How does a modern/contemporary American home with Hmong roots look like? How do we celebrate our cultural identity in modern/contemporary design? With the stool, I want to see how it can fit in a modern/contemporary American home. Some of my first thoughts here was where a stool lives in an American home: the counter or a bar.
The cultural significance of the weave in the Hmong culture is best seen in the way Hmong lived in South East Asia. They needed items that are lightweight but sturdy, therefore weaves were used for their everyday household items. Examples of these weave items consist of baskets, sifters, lunch boxes, and beds.
This collection is what I was able to come up with. To achieve the combination of mixing the Hmong culture with a modern design, I used Ikea furniture and made a new top where I can fit a weave. The items consist of a barstool, a bar table, and a lamp shade.
If we are to preserve culture, we must continue to create it.