Know The Experts: Associate Professor Sherry Fresia Blankenship

A Strategic Research Professor from the Taylor’s Design School, Faculty of Innovation and Technology

Expertise: Design Culture, Print, Typography, Design Education, Design History

The integration of design and culture is a fascination for Prof. Sherry. For her, the combination of the two creates a context, to each is different individually. Prof. Sherry’s professional interest has always been in Design and culture, the interrelation on how one affects the other. 

For the last 30 years, Prof. Sherry has travelled from Tennessee, to Qatar, New Zealand, Lebanon and Malaysia in order to fully comprehend how each culture will affect each design feature. In 2006, she spearheaded the Experiences in Cross- Cultural Design Lecture in Taylor’s University.  This lecture focused on the intimacy culture has on the development and intensification of design for everyday usage. Culture design has affected our history, development of cities, food enhancements, and clothing; from our materials to the patterns and final looks.  This incorporation is the epitome of design identity.

Apart from culture, her other expertise is through the form of multi-lingual typography. Both print typography and even weaving patterns represented through quilts. The commissioned design is for Mastery: Sustainable Momentum: New Bold Contemporary Quilts by Twelve Masters, Catalog and Collateral Materials. From this Project, Prof. Sherry benefited from the creation of different types of quilts made from different type of materials, weaving techniques, patterns and colors. The catalog represented the different type of quilts created from all over the United States of America – the process of quilting, the dyes involved and so forth. Each element plays a role in telling a story about an individual, or a context for an event or happenings, and even the culture that it represents.  She explained in 2016, that Typography is a relationship in a 2-dimensional space. From her workshop, students are able to understand and nurture the idea of design integration with cultures.

Besides culture and typography, for Prof. Sherry the importance of design education in developing countries in imperative. This is because design has an important role in defining the society that we live in. Beyond that, Prof. Sherry seeks to discover and promote design histories in emerging societies. When she joined the Design Thinking & Innovation: Towards a Global. Asian Perspective in Singapore, Prof. Sherry knew that design advancement is never ending.

“...There’s similarity, but so many differences… There is no one way to do something. That is how design works…”

Prof. Sherry’s current project is to create Visual research for the upcoming faculty exhibition. Apart from the collection of arts from the students, the exhibition will display a progressive project that she is working on – a collection of pictures placed in a collage to represent what she has seen since her arrival in Malaysia. It will be snippets of the different features that has attracted her, or she has noticed here. For her industry, doing creative works is research. This is because the industry allows her to push the boundaries on how research is centered. Her hopes is that, research is seen as more than just papers and writings. It is about bringing out the importance of designs utilization in towards our day-to-day activities. Although there is a similarity, there is always a difference. The design identity is fixated but also flexible to suit the needs of the individual in that society.