Appropriation

How to Avoid Cultural Appropriation in Design

Photo credit: Alice Morgan
Photo credit: Alice Morgan

From House Beautiful

The shoes were tiny, brightly colored, embroidered with flowers and birds, and embellished with metallic thread. Interior designer Noz Nozawa’s client had a collection of them proudly displayed on the fireplace mantel of her San Francisco home. But why would baby shoes have heels? “That’s what’s so horrifying,” says Nozawa. “If you didn’t know what you were looking at, they look like fancy little Asian baby’s shoes.”

She realized that her client, who is white, was a collector of lotus shoes, used for the Chinese practice of footbinding, which lasted for 1,000 years. “It’s a relic of a past time that wasn’t expressly meant to oppress and mutilate women, but that’s exactly what it did,” Nozawa says. She left them out when she photographed the home for her portfolio.

In Houston, where Cindy Aplanalp often builds and designs prayer rooms for her Hindu

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