How do cultural superstitions shape our design world? | by Elvis Hsiao | Dec, 2023


Exploring the connection between unique cultural designs and psychological comfort

Lightning striking a yellow sign that says friday the 13th

The designs of things in our everyday lives reflect a lot of our cultural and societal values. You may notice things be designed differently depending on which country and which region you’re in.

Imagine walking into an apartment in North America, you might notice that the elevator is missing the 13th floor. Or in central Asia you see the elevator missing the 4th floor.

Why are there floors missing in the first place? Is the building skipping an empty floor?

Such design choices are mere reflections of each country’s individual cultural and societal values. And some of those influences stem from Superstitions.

Superstitions are often seen as quirky or irrational beliefs held by individuals, which surprisingly exert a significant influence on design. I can personally relate to this as I’ve lived in both Taiwan and Canada for extensive periods of my life. The cultural differences between the two countries and the two geographic continents as a whole are quite vast and interesting to dig into.

So in this article, we will be taking a deep dive into how superstition transforms into designs in our daily lives. We will also explore the psychological and social aspects of how superstitions influence designs.

An irrational or unscientific belief that attributes special powers or causality to certain objects, numbers, events, or rituals. Superstitions persist despite a lack of evidence due to psychological, cultural, or commercial appeal.

A picture with a cat, a moon, pink umbrella and red warning sign with friday the 13th

Their meaning arises in contrast to more accepted mainstream worldviews like science. People often have some awareness that superstitious beliefs are questionable, but they also find them appealing.

Superstitions often involve ideas and practices that we embrace to fulfill emotional, identity, or existential needs, even while recognizing they…


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