December 2010 | # 06 Indian edition
Obituary I walked with Dashrath Patel
The future sound of Indian design
Obituary Leonardo with a revolutionary cause
MP Ranjan 02
Cover Story 26
Uday Dandavate 32
India’s First International Design Magazine D E S I G N • I N N OVAT I O N • C R E AT I V I T Y
0 Founder of NID Dashrath Patel 04
Former Director, NID Dr. Darlie Koshy 06
Former Director, NID Ashoke Chatterjee 08
Graduating in the 50th year of Indian Design: Shraddha Sakhalkar
Present Director, NID Pradyumna Vyas 10 Journey of Indian
Ramya Mohan 21
photographed for POOL by Sudhir Sharma
Maestros Saumin Patel 22
Fairy Tales Katha 28
Advisors Some of the planet’s foremost thinkers and influencers act as a sounding board and conscience for the POOL magazine.
The beginning. Kigge Hevid CEO, Index Awards, Denmark
Abhijit Bansod Studio ABD, India
Kishor Singh Business Editor, India
Adil Darukhanawala Editor, Economic Times, Zigwheels, India
Kohei Nishiyama Founder, Elephant Design, Japan
Dr. Inyoung Albert Choi Professor, Hanyang University, Korea
Madhukar Kamath Managing Director and CEO, Mudra Group, India
Anaezi Modu Rebrand, USA
M P Ranjan Professor, NID, India
Prof. Anil Sinha Head, Visual Communications, NID, India
Prasoon Pandey Corcoise Films, India
Anna Muoio Principal, Social Innovation, Continuum, US
Rajesh Kejriwal Kyoorius Exchange, India
Anuj Sharma Designer, India
Rodney Fitch CEO, Fitch, UK
Aradhana Goel Designer / Strategist, Ideo, USA
Shilpa Das Head, Publications, NID, India
Craig Branigan Chairperson, Landor, CEO, B to D Group, USA
Dr Soumitra R Pathare Psychiatrist, India
Christopher Charles Benninger Architect, Studio CCBA, India
Shrikant Nivasarkar Founder, Nivasarkar Consultants, India
David Berman David Berman Communications, Canada
Subrata Bhowmik Subrata Bhowmik Design, India
Deepika Jindal Managing Director, Artdinox, India
Sudhir Sharma Designindia, India
Essam Abu Awad MIDAS, Jordan
Suresh Venkat CNBC, India
Hrridaysh Deshpande Innoastra, India
Uday Dandawate Sonicrim, USA
Jos Oberdof NPK Design, Netherland
Umesh Shukla Auryn, LA, USA
Julia Chiu Executive Director, JIDPO, Japan
William Drentell Winterhouse, USA
Kieu Pham Haki Brand, Vietnam
William Herald Wong WHW Design, Malaysia
Somewhere between these two stages we saw the beginning of a great institution, which was also the beginning of formal design education in India. It was exciting to meet the founders of the National Institute of Design and hear from them the story of its beginning. Among them was Dashrath Patel - the way he told stories and made them alive, I could never have imagined that soon we would lose this special person. In this 50th year of National Institute of Design, his passing is a loss to us all, but it is also a new beginning. Dashrath leaves behind a seed which we have to protect and grow. I am very excited with where we are now. Design is about to take wing. Sudhir Sharma Editor in Chief
While working on the sixth issue of POOL, we heard about the sad demise of Shri Dashrath Patel, one of the founders of the National Institute of Design, who left a legacy behind. Editor in Chief Sudhir Sharma interviewed this father of Indian design for the last time. We offer you interviews with doyens of Indian design education and industry. Men of purpose who guided Indian design through the decades in the face of adverse economic, political and ideological winds. The spirit of a parent is visible as they nurtured design through different stages of its growth and development. Their views are reflected by the words of Khalil Gibran, “Your sons and daughters are not your children but Life’s longing for itself…” Their association with the National Institute of Design, the fountainhead of design education in India, is put together on page 4-16. The tradition of Indian Design is rich and rests on a historic heritage; a few eminent Indian designers discuss the journey of Indian design on page 18-22. Shraddha Sakhalkar, our cover girl, embodies the face of young designers in India, energetic, go getting and not afraid to make their own path. She looks at the future of design while the others reflect on its history. Gina Krishnan Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor in Chief Sudhir Sharma email@example.com
Art & Design Pradeep Goswami, Prashant Agashe, Shraddha Trivedi
Executive Editor Gina Krishnan firstname.lastname@example.org
Illustrator Santosh Waragade
Copy Editor Ashvina Vakil Editorial Coordinator Sonalee Tomar email@example.com Research & Design Coordinator Preethi Bayya Layout & Production Pradeep Arora Subscription & Logistics Seema Sharma firstname.lastname@example.org Finance Kuldeep Harit
I was looking forward to this issue with a lot of excitement - 50 years of Design in India!!! Design has always been a part of our culture; India is known for its vivid colors and handicrafts, and now it is getting to be known for its innovations that cost next to nothing but make life so much easier.
Assistants Anil Burte, Yamanappa Dodamani Publisher INDI Design Pvt Ltd www.indidesign.in Address India India House, 53, Sopan Baug, Balewadi, Pune - 411045, India Phone: +91 20 6510 6407 www.poolmagazine.in
December 2010 | # 06 Indian Edition
Designindia was founded in 2002. It was started as a platform for interaction for the design community in India and abroad. Over the years it has grown into a forum spread over many social and professional networking domains, linking design professionals into an active, interactive and thought leading community. http://in.groups.yahoo.com/group/designindia
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with Dashrath Patel MP Ranjan
Dashrath’s passing heralds the end of an uncharted era of design action in India, exactly 50 years after the journey started in November 1961 with the incorporation and the setting up of the National Institute of Design (NID) in Paldi, Ahmedabad. Dashrath was the first “designer to be designated teacher” to be employed at the Institute by the visionary founders, Gautam and Gira Sarabhai. The history of this epic journey is yet to be written, unfortunately. I met Dashrath for the first time when I joined NID as a student in the Post Graduate Programme in Furniture Design in 1969 at the tender age of eighteen and a half years, having been admitted to the PG course as a Master Cabinet Maker amongst a large team of highly educated and qualified architects. NID had a rare contempt for formal educational qualifications in those days and perhaps that is why both Dashrath and I were able to enter its portals based on a body of real work that we had to show, each in our own way. Dashrath was in the midst of his exhibition project, The World is My Family, an exhibition on the life and acts of Mahatma Gandhi, and his studio became a preferred hang out for me in a corner of the Institute where the incomplete building work was still in progress on the second floor and here I met Dashrath and Chandralekha and these meetings have had a lasting impact. He taunted and encouraged us to trespass creatively into disciplines that bordered our own, and exhibition design for him was the vehicle for such creative forays
M P Ranjan A former student and a faculty colleague at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad into image, structure, text and story, to encompass all of the known design and art fields in one composite and undivided territory, unlike the manner in which these very subjects were taught both at NID as well as elsewhere in the university education system, as discrete vertical specializations. The scale models that he made to visualize his ideas excited me; the roof of the Gandhi Darshan exhibit was modeled in a mosquito net with the use of buttons and string to hold them up in a extensive space that could house the exhibit below, my introduction to the world of Frei Otto and tensile structures and beyond. We watched with interest the events that unfolded and the stories of success and failures that came back from the implementation grounds, heroically retold at each chai-meeting where we spent a great deal of our time as students of design at NID in analyzing these tales of exploits and challenges. Dashrath was the subject and object of our incessant discussion and a model for rash and heroic action that was based on imagination and a rare spirit of can do bravado in a world full of safe navigators who did the done thing as required by a boss. My next professional engagement with Dashrath was as a team member on his next major exhibition, the Our India Pavilion at Asia 72 where he had assumed the role of architect, film maker, story teller and event designer when we travelled to New Delhi with a huge team of faculty, craftsmen, students and international consultants for Czechoslovakia. A mind boggling project of structural, technical and
subject complexity, an attempt to tell the story of India to Indians and to the world, all in 8-minute modules using multi-media in the pre-computer age. Dashrath was the master composer, manager and creative instigator who brought all the threads of available expertise to bear on the very focused task of blowing the audience off their feet with a blast of images and music all choreographed with precision and a heightened impact in a envelope that was specially created for the event at Pragati Maidan in an impossible time frame. Only Dashrath could have carried it off as he did in those days and it left us all gasping for breath and proud to be an Indian. I was a witness to this from close quarters and it had many lessons for a young journeyman entering the complex space of Indian design action. I also had another task at the Nehru Exhibition that was being set up nearby by another team and Dashrath was watching me closely all the time without my being aware of his scrutiny. Both exhibits opened on 14th November 1972 and were previewed by Indira Gandhi on the previous day. Dashrath told us repeatedly that making exhibitions was like pumping air into a leaking balloon and you just did not give up till the very end. He taught us by example of his own work of the transformation from hands on blue-collar worker to ballerina when the final show had to hit the road and the celebrations or brickbats began; both phases had their own work ethic. Great education for any young sleep deprived professional after an exhilarating journey of design and execution, learning by doing – the NID way.
@BBHLabs So paper.li adds the ability to create a daily newspaper from Facebook status updates. Thankful for not
having a Labs facebook page now.
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The next walk with the great man was a very long march indeed for me. On the 14th January 1973 when all the Ahmedabadis young and old were flying their kites, Dashrath and his two-man team that included B V Mistry and myself, left for Santiago Chile to refurbish and set up the Nehru Exhibition in a distant land on behalf of the Government of India. The task was to be accomplished in an impossible deadline of 10 days by the 26th January when the President of Chile would declare it open for the people of that brave nation that was passing through the throes of severe economic and political crises. Walking through the streets of Santiago with Dashrath constantly pulling out his two cameras to capture images of people, old windows and quaint food stalls was a passage of keen observation and appreciation of the culture of the land, all done with an open sharing and dialogue of past experiences such as these with great design gurus who had come to NID in the ‘60s. The hard work was followed by merry making with our local carpenter friends and not to mention the pretty Lola’s of the land, the blue-collar worker to ballerina, as Dashrath would say. This visit culminated in the great event of January 26th 1973, India’s Republic Day, when we met face to face with President Salvador Allende of Chile who was keen to meet the design team from India. Somewhere in the archives of the Chilean media will be film footage of our hour long meeting in close quarters with one of the world’s great leaders whom Dashrath had a habit of meeting as part of his career it seems. Little did we know how the world would change forever that year on 9/11 when the President was assassinated and a coup drove Chile into the depths of chaos and despair. Only later did we get to know about the great design journey that was being undertaken by the President through the book that arrived at NID that told the whole story – Platform for Change by Stafford Beer – and this had a deep and lasting impact on all of us over the years of trying to discover the role of design in a developing economy such as India. Our return journey was just as dramatic, a ten day halt at New York that was set up by Dashrath to enable us to get a firsthand feel of the art and design scene in Manhattan those days. It was a life transforming ten days, which was
made memorable by the distinguished people that Dashrath could connect with through his association with the Rockefeller Foundation that acted as our hosts for this period. Daily meetings with great artists and designers, museum curators and playwrights, dancers and musicians all rolled into experiences of long walks together through Broadway and Greenwich Village and all the way down Wall Street and Brooklyn. We met musicians John Cage and David Tudor with modern dancer Merce Cunningham at a performance at Stony Brook University, designer George Nelson at an exclusive meet in his studio office, artists who were part of the EAT group (Experiments in Art and Technology) as well as the Curator of the Museum of Modern Art, besides a hoard of others who all agreed to meet us and spend quality time since we were with Dashrath and he was a distinguished invitee of the Rockefeller Foundation, a roller coaster ride of exposure and a rites of passage which was an initiation to the high street of design action that changed the course of my life for sure. Yes, this long walk continued over the years, through many experiences and for me this early collaboration was the foundation in design education that I never really had and if I were to single out one thing that I learned from all these engagements it was how was not to fear the unknown since this was the very essence of design thought and action. The future is indeed unknowable but I learned that it could be arrived at through imagination and concerted action, a leap of faith and deep conviction that is tempered by a lot of experimentation and exploration; the future is created by design. Thank you Dashrat. The author retired from service at NID on 30th November 2010 and Dashrath breathed his last on the morning of 1st December 2010 and the long walk has come to an end only to continue in so many directions that Dashrath inspired in his students and colleagues, all of whom will have amazing stories to tell in the days ahead. I hope that these are captured and told for the benefit of the next 50 years of design in India and for the times ahead. www.design-for-india.blogspot.com
@ooomz Wife says going for windows after using a mac is like going for cattle class after flying first class www.poolmagazine.in 3
Design Vs Styling NIDâ€™s first Director of Design and Education, Dashrath Patel, recently passed away. Closely associated with the institute since its inception, and for almost 20 years after, he was one of those responsible for steering NID towards its almost iconic status in the world of Indian design. The first recipient of the Padmashri for Design and Design Education, he will always be remembered for his pioneering contribution to the field.
0 An eminent artist, he always described himself as a painter, rather than a designer, though he was responsible for almost all the major public exhibitions of independent India. A teacher and a visionary, a painter and a product designer…Dashrath Patel was a man of many facets. In his last ever interview, he reminisces about the birth of one of India’s most venerable institutes… Since you have seen so much of the past, you can look deeper into the future. Where do you think Design in India is heading? DP: The first question is do people know the difference between design and styling? Styling is not design. Let’s be honest about it. And today we’re all into styling; all the requirement is for styling, and not design. I personally feel design is the second priority. What is the difference between design and styling? DP: Take the Madurai temple, Khajuraho and Rameshwaram - what you know about Khajuraho is styling not design, what you see in Madurai is decoration, not design. Each of these temples was made to last for so long on the basis of their foundations. Each temple had a foundation, based on which the decoration followed. Can you think of examples from the past 50 years that boasted good design as well? DP: Architects like Le Corbusier, Mies and Frank Lloyd Wright were great. They would never waste; they would design according to the industrial products and raw materials. And they knew exactly what the industry produced, and would take advantage of it to create great things. Any examples from India? DP: The bullock cart. It was engineered to suit the kuchha road. The lota, which was the only vessel that no Indian could travel without. Today we have become slaves of machines like computers. The finest tools have been taken away and they say now we are modern! Were you involved with NID since its inception or before that? DP: Before that. NID was not supposed to be in Ahmedabad. It was supposed
to be in Bangalore because all the Europeans, including Charles Eames, felt that Bangalore was a nice cool place. Gautam Sarabhai went for two or three meetings and when nothing happened, he had the courage to say why are we wasting time? I would say that only Gira and Gautam Sarabhai were really aware of and sensitive to what was happening in the world of design. I’m not a designer…I’m a painter… I paint. They wanted to me to come back to India from Paris where I lived then. I asked Gira, ‘Why do you want me to come?’ And she said, ‘We want you to come because of your connectivity. You can relate. To make all these connections from art to architecture to textiles. What you see in the street, you are able to connect it; today we are working in
Today we have become slaves of machines like computers. The finest tools have been taken away and they say now we are modern! isolation.’ I asked if I came home what would I do? And they said one day they would call me. I thought it was a very interesting experiment the Sarabhais were planning, so I called back and asked what we would teach. They said they didn’t have a building but the general manager of Calico had passed away, so we could use his office. So, I ended up joining Calico! It was an interesting start; they had a bank of films, and a projector on my table, and a screen and they asked me to take my time and enjoy the films! I said I cannot teach anybody anything except for drawing! We took 12 years just to develop a faculty, and in 1972 we took in the first student. We didn’t know what would happen tomorrow! The whole institute was built keeping in mind the next 50 years. Gautam sent me on the Rockefeller Fellowship and I traveled all over the world. I met professors, people like Mies, and it was an amazing experience. Then
I traveled to Japan and interacted with all the ceramic artists. What was the outcome of the world tour? Did you create the courses after you came back? DP: Yes, I started searching for people. Gautam told me to go identify people. We got Dalwadi, Mahendra, Vikas, Mathoor, and Ishu. Back then NID was meant for industrial design, not for styling as it is now. I remember how we made screens and worked. We called experts in for equipment and we also called a director from San Francisco Rockefeller; they all came and we slowly started the classes. They took workshops batch by batch. In 1961 Gautam realized we couldn’t continue working from Calico. Then he realized he didn’t have time for stupid meetings with the governing board. Let’s not waste time, he said. The Chief Minister gave us land. It was a hockey stadium / ground. The Fords had a history of taking back the money they had lent and Gautam told them to give us all the money right away instead of in installments. Then we met Pandit Nehru and decided that this money should not come back to India; it had to be put in a London bank. We invited lots of graphic designers – Armin Hoffman and others - to teach. We also called Ezra Stoller, the photographer, George Nakashima, for furniture, etc. We had an exchange program with America running for 10 years. Do you have a message for young designers? Most of them are studying design because they want to and not because their parents push them into it, and they want to perform in the field they choose. DP: They should travel; they should not waste time in the class! They should explore the country along with their teachers. How many do you think know the country? One should take time to travel and breathe fresh air. And finally, do you think design can be taught? DP: I won’t say it cannot be taught but you should make students aware of the difference between design and styling!
@adel “Its like dancing with two left feet” Brand New dissects the new Airtel logo - http://twurl.nl/c3rh2o www.poolmagazine.in 5
The art of innovation Dr. Darlie Koshy, former Director of NID (2000 to 2008), is currently Director General and CEO of the 55 Apparel Training & Design Centres in the country, and the two Institutes of Apparel Management. He conceived and set up NIDâ€™s R&D Campus in Bangalore, and Indiaâ€™s first Design Business Incubator in collaboration with the Ministry of Science & Technology. In a conversation with Pool he makes a case for more integration of design and technology.
0 NID was India’s formal introduction to design education. How far have we come since then? Dr. K: Historically, NID has had the role of being the first formal institute for design ‘training’ rather than education. The document concerning the setting up of NID describes it as a vocational training and design service to the MES Sector. It was during my tenure that the word ‘education’ was added to the MOA. NID was unfortunately caught between the world of training and the world of design practice. This affected the institution’s growth during the 1970s to the 1990s. Mainstream education institutes under HRD like IIT, IIM leapfrogged ahead. Despite efforts by successive Directors, including me, to make NID more market driven, the results have been mixed and the scale remained limited. However, NID because of its focus on quality education has subsequently played a role in designing undergraduate education while post graduate education has remained rudimentary. I had pushed hard for NID to become a full-fledged university, especially in the wake of rapid changes in the education scenario in the country. The efforts to set up an R&D campus in Bangalore seem to have paid dividends and the PG campus in Gandhinagar, which I had conceived and set up, also seems to be focusing on a higher level of design education, especially towards technology-led design.
“I hope NID, IDC and all others roll up their sleeves to create landmark moments for Indian Design.” What was your vision as Director of NID? Dr. K: My vision as Director of NID was influenced by the turning of the new century in 2000 and the opportunities in an emerging economy like India. First of all, I wanted NID to become financially strong and self-reliant with a reasonable number of students in both UG and PG programs. I also wanted the institute not to be Ahmedabad-centric but to be considered as a national institute by setting up more centers / campuses. Most importantly, I wanted design to be
understood better and to have a ‘National Design Policy’ to communicate about design to policy makers, industry leaders, etc. I believe if you examine the period
“The modern and contemporary design solutions are a result of technology and design. Unfortunately, our technology institutions have not embraced enough of design and our design institutions have not embraced enough of technology. This is impeding the growth of design in the country.” from 2000-2008 (the 8½ years when I headed NID) you would see that the vision which I had set forth was largely achieved though the ‘change management’. I was about 44-45 years old when I took over as Director and left when I was 53, and therefore the period reflects energy, enthusiasm and even radical changes. What was the one landmark design project that you would like to mention? Dr. K: During my period as Director, there were very significant social sector and consultancy projects which were successfully accomplished. The most outstanding one in which we collaborated with NID alumni was the ‘Great Arc’ based on Alan Kay’s landmark work; designing of the monetary museum for RBI, Mumbai; designing of coins for the Government of India; the branding for ONGC; the bringing out of the pioneers’ work on handicrafts called ‘Hand-made in India’; and several other projects like modernization of Intellectual Property Right offices including logo, branding, interior, etc. I believe these were quite significant.
What is the future of design education in India? Dr. K: Design education as it is now available has two distinct two genres: one which is practiced by NID, which is a more purist approach, and another which is extremely commercial. The market is outpacing the design understanding especially because of the technological leaps and gaps and the number of designers available who are capable of dovetailing technology and design. I believe art, design and technology should create a powerful innovation framework to create innovations which with the help of management and entrepreneurship can reach the markets for wider acceptance. What defines Indian Design? Dr. K: Indian design in the minds of a large number of people continues to be associated with Indian textiles and handicrafts. The modern and contemporary design solutions are a result of technology and design. Unfortunately, our technology institutions have not embraced enough of design and our design institutions have not embraced enough of technology. This is impeding the growth of design in the country. What do you think would be the next big landmark moment for Indian Design? Dr. K: The landmark moment for Indian design recently was the identity of the Indian Rupee and I am glad an alumnus of IDC has made the mark. The contribution of Indian Design was certainly visible at the Commonwealth Games through the baton, backdrop, etc. Public places like airports, new hotels and offices are really ideal for holistic design. Transportation also offers many challenges in India. There will be considerable avenues of growth in film, animation, documents, special effects, etc. However apparel, lifestyle and luxury products design will rule the roost. One specific moment coming up would be the golden jubilee celebration of NID which needs to make a big impact on the national level about the scope and purpose of design. However to achieve this vision, passion and commitment to make things happen are required. I hope NID, IDC and all others roll up their sleeves to create landmark moments for Indian Design.
@arcopolc Who the f**k coined the term ‘#barkhagate’ ? I know where its borrowed from, but in Watergate, its not
‘water’ that was caught in a scandal!
An experiment that worked When Ashoke Chatterjee came to NID as Executive Director in 1975, he was drawn by its vision. And yet it was an institution in crisis. He retired in 2001 as a Distinguished Fellow and is currently working as a consultant in India and internationally on projects concerned with water management and environmental issues. Here he looks back on a time when NID was actually regarded as expendable, and recollects his own attempts to carry forward the vision of the founders of the venerable institution.
0 NID was India’s introduction to design education in the post-Bahaus sense. This is an important and basic distinction because design has an unbroken history in this country going back centuries indeed, we may be the only civilization that offers such an unbroken and ancient design lineage. So we must be very careful in our understanding that design was not formally introduced to India by NID. What the Institute did was to introduce a new understanding of industrial design and of the education that can be related to it. This reality demands a sense of humility when we use the term ‘design’, reminding ourselves when we do that none of our languages has a precise equivalent of the term ‘design’ as we are now using it this, despite our design heritage! That itself is reason for both humility and reflection.
Perhaps my personal vision was to see NID secure, its radical system of education accepted and respected, and its graduates able to move out into a supportive and enabling environment. Back in the 1970s these dreams were often mocked as pipe dreams. I arrived at NID in 1975, but it already had a vision before that. In fact it was that vision that attracted me to the Institute. That vision had been wonderfully articulated in the India Report of Charles and Ray Eames, the Structure/Culture document by Gautam Sarabhai and his team that became the basis of the design pedagogy introduced to India (and perhaps to the world) through NID, and the 1974 Review by the Committee headed by the late Romesh Thapar. He was a major influence in my decision to return to India from the USA, and later to move from New Delhi and the public sector to NID.
H Y Sharada Prasad, Gerson Da Cunha and Pupul Jayakar were others I had known well, and they were all closely associated with the Review and with efforts to protect NID at a very difficult time from elements who considered its experiment in education an expensive and unnecessary frill. Romesh Thapar’s encouragement and the belief that he and Ravi J Matthai (who had just stepped down as IIMA’s first Director to engage himself in educational innovation) shared in NID’s cause and in its community were perhaps the most important elements in my decision to move to NID. Most others discouraged me, believing that the Institute’s chances for survival were nil. NID was going through a severe administrative crisis within an environment of ignorance of design as NID understood it. There was a feeling in important circles that the NID experiment was expendable. I was informed of other agencies who had offered to take over and use its building and grounds! This critical period of NID’s history is easily overlooked. Few of those most affected by it like to be reminded of it. Yet for me, NID’s crisis was both the cause as well as the challenge to which I was to devote the next 25 years of my life. So the larger vision was not mine. Yet its inspiration was certainly my motivation as were my early encounters with NID’s great teachers and students, working together against such odds. Perhaps my personal vision was to see NID secure, its radical system of education accepted and respected, and its graduates able to move out into a supportive and enabling environment. Back in the 1970s these dreams were often mocked as pipe dreams. My task in 1975 was to restore confidence in a community and in an institution, consolidate its resources, build essential infrastructure, advocate and plan for its future, and secure the support of government and industry toward both building NID and the students that were ready to graduate from it. They were then moving into a protected market where ‘copying’ was the felt need, not design as a problem-solving capacity indispensable to India’s future and quality of its life. The future of India is the future of design education in our land. It has to be guided and led by Indian need - and there are so many Indias, each with
NID’s educational experiment worked - it helped deliver a vanguard of professionals of high quality for a ‘new’ Indian profession that is now established beyond any doubt. its legitimate design requirements. Serving this spectrum of requirements and building career opportunities linked to major needs is the real challenge of design education. Today, India’s flourishing design profession is largely centered on the so-called ‘organized’ sector. Yet most Indian livelihoods are derived in the ‘unorganized’ sector that sees little design priority, career planning and investment. Education must help change this, but it is national planning that must help educators to do so, with pressure and advocacy from outside including from design professionals. NID’s educational experiment worked - it helped deliver a vanguard of professionals of high quality for a ‘new’ Indian profession that is now established beyond any doubt. At a time when the nation’s attention needs to be drawn to the validity of NID’s commitment, it would be sad indeed if the race for numbers and for so-called ‘equivalence’ would drag Indian design education back into the trap that it left 50 years ago. Never was educational innovation more essential than now, in a competitive environment that is finally coming to respect the importance of creativity. For me, the Indian design challenge lies in helping the transition between tradition and modernity, lifting the quality of life for millions still condemned to poverty and oppression, locating values that need to travel between generations, and comprehending the Indian identity that design should reinforce in a world where globalization can be used as an excuse to make us all clones. Thank god, at the time I came to NID, we did not have the fashion industry to contend with!
@_harshika God couldn’t answer everything ,so he created google . www.poolmagazine.in 9
Staying in context On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the National Institute of Design (NID), Prof. Pradyumna Vyas, Director, explains how the real challenge facing design in India is how to make technology contextual
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0 Fifty years ago NID marked the formal introduction of design education in India. What are its major achievements in the last 50 years? PV: There are many but I would just like to give you a background of the vision of independent India, when the government felt that design, management and technology were equal components for the nation’s economic and social development. And on that basis, in 1956 the Prime Minister invited American designers Charles and Ray Eames to suggest what sort of design institution India should set up. The Eameses moved around, traveled in India for a few months and submitted a report called the India Report, based on which this institute was set up in 1961. In my view, there was very vision centric thinking about the integral role of design, management and technology, but unfortunately because of the protected economy, engineering went into more reverse engineering and management went into selling more products; design was not so contextual because there was no competition and policies were not allowing design to come into the mainstream. That’s why today we have only one NID; there should have been many more design institutions. That’s one part of the story of the vision of independent India. The other side is that even in the protected economy, Industry was not really looking forward to investing or spending on design in a big way. NID’s students and faculty were continuously searching for the use of design in brand creation and social development and even in industrial development. They made an attempt, even though Industry was not looking. Our education program forced them to go to Industry and convey to them about design. Over the last 50 years, NID has created over 400 brandings and that message is all over the country, whether you take State Bank of India or Doordarshan or Hindustan Lever. So basically the visibility of design through brand creation is something that NID has created. This year, NID is celebrating its Golden Jubilee. In these 50 years, NID’s biggest strength is that it is a multidisciplinary
and multi-campus design institution with 17 postgraduate programs ranging from industrial design, communication design, textile and apparel design to IT integrated design across three campuses. Few design institutes in the world offer such crossdisciplinary learning opportunities. Indian Industry too has recently opened up to the value of design in terms of enhancing the value of products and services. Today, there is considerable demand for designers within India.
I am also interested in promoting awareness of intellectual property rights so that we can leverage intellectual property to generate knowledge capital. Product wise, NID’s greatest achievement is the eminent professionals it has produced – 2,000 graduates who are instrumental in spreading the power of design not only in India but outside as well. Our young graduates have had the courage, because of their education, to set up design offices when design was not much known in Industry; they set up offices in Pune, Bangalore and Delhi. I would say that the confidence they have got from NID made them successful design entrepreneurs in the country. I feel very proud that many of our design graduates have a very big clientele, here and abroad, and they are employing a large number of people, and working with major national and international brands.
with NGOs to take this forward. In the crafts sector, major documentation work has been done by NID’s students. The resource we have created in the past 50 years in the area of craft documentation is unparalleled. It’s so nice that our curriculum also allows students to go and do this. What is your vision as Director of NID? PV: I have a three-fold vision for NID. First, I am currently sustaining and maintaining NID’s leadership in the field of design through knowledge and research based programs. I think the creation of new knowledge is essential and therefore, I am focusing strongly on encouraging research activity. Second, I am very keenly fostering the culture of responsible and value-centric design education which is rooted in the traditions of India. It is my key endeavor that in the rush for modernity, we do not forsake traditional knowledge. Third, collectively working with faculty and staff colleagues, my vision is to shape NID as an institution that not only offers a comprehensive multi-dimensional learning environment but also instills in students certain values – which include the appreciation for diversity, openness to new ideas, team spirit and a sense of community. To this end, I am keen on establishing linkages with other institutions to strongly integrate inputs in technology, management, humanities and social sciences.
Let’s look at the other major institutes that came up after NID was set up. The Industrial Design Centre was started at IIT Bombay in the early 1970s with graduates from NID. Whoever has started a design education program in the country has some link with NID so we feel very proud to say that this movement was started by us.
Given this three-fold vision, the key areas of my focus currently include retaining and attracting quality facultyacademicians, practicing designers, researchers and professionals; developing design teachers to cater to India’s growing need for design educators; strengthening internationalization initiatives to take part in and contribute to global knowledge flows and to broaden education so that it is socially broad-based and technically deep.
When you look at social communication, whether it is the girl child issue or AIDS awareness or any kind of social development, our students and faculty and graduates have strongly worked
Finally, I am also interested in promoting awareness of intellectual property rights so that we can leverage intellectual property to generate knowledge capital.
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0 What do you feel about design in general, and design in India specifically? PV: One cannot judge design in isolation. Design is a very important ingredient for creating new opportunities and to solve problems. And the continuation and integration of different disciplines is very, very important for development. We talk about technology, which is very important, and that we need to have a very solid technology base. We talk about research, science and fundamental technology and social science and management, and then we talk about design. I think technology, management, design, and social science are all very integral parts of social, economic and environmental development. Unfortunately, even though everything exists in this country, they have not yet come together. A place like Ahmedabad has IIM and NID, a couple of technology institutes, and ISRO and PRL… but do they work together? No! That is the mistake of the past 50 years. Each one is working independently which is not really making any sense to society.
A place like Ahmedabad has IIM and NID, a couple of technology institutes, and ISRO and PRL…but do they work together? No! That is the mistake of the past 50 years. We are not able to really push the innovations happening in laboratories into real life situations because there are designs missing in those innovations. You may have spent thousands of crores on those innovations but you have to convert the technology into a usable product. It has not happened for the past many years; it’s only now that you see some examples, like TATA Chemicals which has developed a user friendly, assembly friendly, environment friendly and very contextual process for water purification through nano-technology. Government attention is another point to consider. Though the National Design
One cannot judge design in isolation. Design is a very important ingredient for creating new opportunities and to solve problems. Policy has been approved in February 2007 I think we were late in that. But at least we are there now! We have the India Design Council in place comprising apex bodies and design houses, designers, and government agencies. In terms of design promotion, it has shown great results; in fact we will be in the position to launch i-mark next year. So, though India is a growing economy, somewhere we are focused more on technology and management but we are not focused on the design component. People consider design as only a face uplift or beautification, instead of something that should be integrated in any kind of developmental process. In the last 50 years, we have created so many design centric organizations but now I think we really have to look into the next 50 years and how fast we can really go and integrate design with our activities to improve the quality of life of masses all over. There is great opportunity in this country and we need to send this message to the right quarters and make sure that at the time of planning, design gets place to work with the planners. What defines Indian Design? PV: Indian Design is defined by its rich heritage – the fact that it is firmly rooted in traditions and in a cultural context. We have a rich heritage of crafts, folk dance, folk music, paintings, and vocal traditions. Oral history and storytelling traditions have also nurtured vivid imagination and visualization since stories evoke mental imagery. Can you think of one landmark design project? PV: In my opinion, the one landmark design project of note is the Tata Nano. It is one of the finest examples of the contextual use of technology which
provides the common man with affordable transportation. It has taken into account the aspirations of several Indians who seek to be upwardly socially mobile. What do you think will be the next big landmark moment for Indian Design? PV: There are two big upcoming landmark moments for Indian Design - design interventions at the grassroots level in the craft sector, and design interventions in the MSME Industry (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises). Government policies are heavily leaning towards these two sectors. In the former, skill-upgrades for the crafts sector and productdiversification programs for artisans help expand the areas of traditional crafts as well as social communication programs. A special Design Clinic scheme has been launched by the MSME sector, Government of India in 2010 to sensitize micro and small scale industries in the country to use design effectively for becoming more competitive. The intent is to generate awareness among MSMEs that through the design process, they can add value to products, services and the processes related to their firms.
The intent is to generate awareness among MSMEs that through the design process, they can add value to products, services and the processes related to their firms. As head of NID you are almost at the forefront of the whole design movement in India. What is your personal mission? PV: The time has now come to bring a global perspective to design. We cannot be only nation centric. At NID we have to really look into that; we have now more than 40 MOUs with foreign universities from all over the world, and we have exchange programs. Why are we doing that? So that our faculty and students get a chance to go out, and faculty and students from abroad come to India and
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0 it brings a global perspective; local and global is very important. We also need to give a technically deep and socially broad perspective; we have very deep rooted technology available but how are we are going to integrate that technology into society? Design plays a very important role and I feel that design and technology integration and a multidisciplinary approach is the way ahead. How can we create a situation where technology, management, design and social intervention all come together on a single platform?
Design incubation is another area I would like to take forward. We give people venture capital funds to the tune of `40 or 50 lakh to set up their offices; the results will take some time but they will come. A lot of design backed enterprises will come up. You can’t really grow unless you make people grow at the bottom or base of the pyramid. This is a time when we need to take the message of design to all engineering colleges. We need to develop the curriculum so that at least one project talks about industrial design in all engineering colleges. And we need to orient faculty - that’s why we are emphasizing on a faculty development program not only for NID, but for all other institutions which are coming up. After all we have 50 years of understanding so this is the mission we have to take up - to create trainers who can go to various places and help in developing the curriculum and more teachers.
Our plans for institutional development include such faculty development programs, and curriculum development and distance education for engineering colleges. Our faculty and our students also talk through technology to other colleges. They don’t necessarily have to be physically present but they have to lecture through distance education. This is one area I am trying to concentrate on. Design incubation is another area I would like to take forward. We give people venture capital funds to the tune of `40 or 50 lakh to set up their offices; the results will take some time but they will come. A lot of design backed enterprises will come up. You can’t really grow unless you make people grow at the bottom or base of the pyramid. I am for micro, small and medium scale design intervention. Those who started these types of enterprises are smart and they are going through a great thrust owing to globalization. I think there is some professional input required. The government has realized this and that’s why design clinics have come up. NID is the nodal agency doing this in all parts of the country. It is about how design can make these micro, small and medium companies competitive. I think it’s the biggest challenge which we have taken up and with the support of all we are able to make a great difference in improving productivity and quality, and bringing out new innovative products which are in context. These are some of the things that are we delving into and I want to highlight the notion that design is not for the elite - it is for everyone. What is the future of design education in India? PV: The future of Indian Design is extremely bright. The next major step that needs to happen is that design has to integrate with technology and engineering education. Currently, these two function for the most part as separate educational streams. It will be a mammoth task to introduce industrial design modules in all engineering colleges. Also, we are working on integrating design education into the K-12 school curriculum. Currently, design education begins only at the college level (undergraduate level). Giving students early exposure to design education through
design modules at the secondary and higher secondary level is extremely important. What is your message to young professionals? PV: Read POOL! I must say that POOL magazine, through its online and printed versions, is demonstrating and showcasing the power of design, and design matters in all development areas…not only development, but even entertainment areas. So, design is a vast catchment area and sooner we get acquainted with it, the better it is for our careers, whether we are managers or economists, doctors, anything, I think this magazine has a lot of interest because it is dealing with so many types of activities. Everyone will get enriched by reading it and they will be able to use some design intervention in their area of activity, whatever it might be.
The future of Indian Design is extremely bright. The next major step that needs to happen is that design has to integrate with technology and engineering education. What do you think young professionals who are going out into the market now should be focusing on in the next 50 years? PV: I wouldn’t even say next 50 years… I think design has taken off and it is going to be in geometrical progression. I have only one message for the young generation – for any profession you are in, the approach has to be integral, it has to be holistic. In isolation, nobody can achieve a big milestone or make a big achievement. We have to be empathetic to the environment, to people and to technology and to all types of situations, and create a solution that is more contextual. Finally I would like to say that design is nothing but contextual use of technology. Everywhere contexts are different and technology is available to use. How much technology you really need to make something contextual is the challenge that one faces.
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0 How it all began Subrata Bhowmick is one of the National Institute of Design’s most famous alumni, and among India’s most lauded designers. A man of varied interests, he has been working in the field of graphic design, advertising design, exhibition design and industrial design for over four decades. He recently met Gira Sarabhai, who founded NID in Ahmedabad along with Gautam Sarabhai. She related a never-toldbefore anecdote about what led to the birth of India’s premier design institution. The words of Pupul Jayakar, retold by Giraben
I went to see a show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and there I met Alexander Gerard. I said to him, “This is a very good body of design. How can we bring it around to India?” He said, “I am not the person to talk about it. There is a young guy, an architect called Charles Eames, and you can ask him.” This was in the 1950s. I returned to India and spoke to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who told me to call Charles Eames. So I met Charles Eames and invited him to come and meet Panditji. He said, “Okay, give me a report.” And that is how the Eames Report outlining a program for professional design training in India came about. The rest is history!
Pune-based mechanical engineers design a motorcycle that runs on batteries that power mobile phones!
It looks like any other sleek motorcycle on the road but there’s one important difference – unlike other petrol guzzling machines, this one runs on batteries. ‘Tork’ has been designed and built by four Pune-based youngsters to be a ‘green bike’, and it recently came in third at the Time Trial Xtreme Grand Prix in the UK. What began as a college project for these mechanical engineering students has morphed into a career path that has considerable potential. What will firmly put Tork into the mainstream however is a generous injection of funds, and that is something that the team is still looking for. For now they are concentrating on racing the bike at racing venues across the world, hoping it will draw the attention of the auto industry, and more importantly, venture capitalists. The young team consists of Kapil Shelke - Team Leader and Head of System Design;
Krunal Nanavati - Team Manager; Ajit Jain - Head of Mechanical Design; and Nishant Kalbhor - Electrical and IT Technician. “The first bike we built while in college had a custom frame and we designed it from ground up,” say the enterprising youngsters. “Our second bike – the Tork - however has been converted from an existing Indian bike - Yamaha R15.” The initial idea to build ‘India’s fastest electric motorcycle’ was Kapil’s and his team mates pitched in enthusiastically to bring it to fruition. “Then we decided to participate in international races so we could have more serious competition and see where we stand. We have done fairly well - with two podium finishes and one win in five races so far,” says Kapil. So, what exactly is Tork all about? “The design is based on a simple motorcycle frame; the main changes are in the drive train,” explains the team. “The only moving component in our drive system is the motor. It’s powered by Li-ion batteries, such as those used in mobile phones. There is no gear box or clutch - the transmission is done by the main controller and it has only one gear.” While eco-friendly electric vehicles are the need of the day, it can be quite difficult to change the mindset of the average consumer. Team Tork had their work cut out explaining what they were working on and what they expected to achieve by participating in various races. “We
did not really approach the media till after winning a TT (Isle of Man) race in June 2009,” says Kapil. Team Tork is currently participating in the UK round of the Electric Motorcycle World Championship. “We won the opening race of the UK championship and are third overall in the championship after four races,” informs Kapil. “The main purpose of taking part in this championship is to participate and develop the drive train. We can specifically test the drive train in these races and gather data during this season. These races also help us to create brand recognition for the team as well as the company.” The young Tork team has ambitious plans for the future. “We plan to enter the market with our unique product line and designs. Through our company we hope to manufacture and commercially launch the bike under the brand name Tork India.” What they’re clear about is that they will launch Tork themselves – making it for someone else is not on the agenda. Neither is compromising on price or design. That would defeat the very purpose of what they set out to do when they invested Rs. 25 lakh and two years in their college project. “We love what we do and are working towards making a living out of our passion,” they promise, and we can only cheer them on. www.torkindia.wordpress.com
The journey of
India has a long tradition of design – reflected in her monuments, costumes, handicrafts, temples, pottery, cooking utensils, sculpture, and art. Inherent in her history and an intrinsic part of her culture, design has steered the destiny of this nation as much as anything else. But it’s only in the last 50 years or so that design was given its due. That’s when it acquired a more formal status, and when it was introduced in the lexicon of the Indian education system. When the National Institute of Design was founded, Indian Design finally began to move center stage. Over the years it acquired shape and form, finding its way into mainstream commercial and creative activity, till today it is accepted as an important element in the overall scheme of things.
It has been a long and eventful journey, from its modest, hesitant beginnings to now, when it has a legitimate space in different fields across the spectrum of the Indian experience. Where does Indian design stand today? Does it have global significance? Who are the pioneers? Which have been the pathbreaking design projects?
middle class. ‘Made for India’ is almost exactly the same, only that it’s made in foreign land and when brought to India, is stripped off all the ‘stuff’ that marks it
Our panel of designers discusses these and other aspects of the design journey: Paavani Bishnoi, Peter Alwin, Bimal Patel , Abhijit Bansod, Shiva Kumar, Gavin Remedios, Kangan Arora, Anand Patel, and Viren Razdan. What are your thoughts on ‘Made in India’ as opposed to ‘Made for India’? Abhijit Bansod, Studio ABD: For me, personally, it does not matter if it is made anywhere in the world, but it should be designed for India (even better, if it is designed in India). We will soon be the hub of the knowledge economy, and should use our talent to use our heritage and cultural knowledge to help create unique Indian processes and products. Anand Patel, Architect: In today’s context, ‘Made in India’ is by far a compromise product (do not read artifacts or traditional crafts); it is hugely
In terms of globalization ‘Made for India’ is extremely important because most the bigger economies are saturated and the biggest growing market is India
I think we are still searching for the meaning of Indian design. Having said that, I firmly believe we have a great future.
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design problem.” 16 POOL | 12.10 | #6
0 The words ‘NYC’ are in the smallest text. ‘Made in India’ will slowly take over not only India, but the world!
The most visible event for the world was Le Corbusier designing Chandigarh. But the true turning point was the establishment of the NID as sought after. Basically again, middle of the class. Gavin Remedios, Remedios Studio: It can vary depending on the context; in terms of globalization ‘Made for India’ is extremely important because most of the bigger economies are saturated. The biggest growing market is India, so if any global company wants to be successful it must have a presence in India. Market share here, even at a compromise on price, is extremely important and knowing exactly what the Indian market wants or expects is of even more importance. In terms of ‘Made in India’, the tag has supported global companies for a long time because of cheap labor. However I am happy to notice the emergence of mobile phone makers in India over the last two years; there are now at least 15 companies, which is just one less than China, and more than any other country in the world! Kangan Arora, Textile Designer: I love the fact that all the sewer covers in New York City have ‘Made in India’ stamped on them in large, bold letters.
Paavani Bishnoi, Design Researcher: Globally there are a growing number of ‘Made in India’ labels on products but we are witnessing the ‘Made for India’ change too. After all, India is one of the largest consumer markets in the world. Not only Indian businesses but businesses from overseas - American fast food chains such as McDonalds and Pizza Hut, and German food and beverage brand Knorr - are coming out with Indian flavors. Mobile and white goods companies such as Nokia, LG, and Samsung are engaging in product localization to attract more customers. Peter Alwin, Product Designer: If ‘Made for India’ is different, we must blame it on the system. Look at the trains in India – they are so robust and unattractive from the exterior and the interior. And then look at Delhi’s metro trains made in India by Bombardier, a German company. They look like any metro train in the world. Both these trains are made in India and for India. The Indian Railways focus on a huge sector of public from all classes and hence the system functions that way. But the metro stations in Delhi are so well maintained because of the kind of people using that system. I would say that all things are made in India for India but the target group and the system around the product makes the difference. Shiva Kumar, Apparatus: In the context of a neutralized global marketplace, ‘Made in India’ and ‘Made for India’ do not seem to be very different. In a way this is good. The Indian sense of quality and design is global now. However, there are loads of hidden needs buried in our small towns and villages which demand an appropriate ‘Made for India’ response. There are a few global companies, especially in telecommunications, quenching these needs with solutions. There will be more soon. A growing economy is an orchard for the wounded west and designers will be bridging this context gap. Viren Razdan, Interbrand: The ‘Made in India’, concept has steadily progressed over the last decade. With
the buzz that surrounds everything from India, we have made strong progress in developing our craft – whether it’s the Bamboo Mission, which has innovative products which have reached across the world, or ayurveda products that have made inroads into beauty and wellness in the new world. Have we been able to maximize the potential of the ‘Made in India’ brand? Probably not! We have miles to go to create that mark. ‘Made for India’ on the other hand has seen a handsome interest amongst all
Indian Design is adaptation, adjustment and compromise. MNCs vying for a share of the mammoth consumer market we present - from Nokia’s mobile phone with a torch to its dust proof materials or from the revolutionary invention of sachets to the Tupperware round-shaped spice and condiment containers which emulates the age-old steel container design used in Indian kitchens. Companies have realized that Indians might be slow on adoption but once they see a factor of ‘adaptability’ their response is far quicker and can gather momentum. Across categories the ‘customization for India to make it relevant’ is a strong mantra. Which landmark project according to you has been a turning point in the history of Indian Design? Abhijit Bansod, Studio ABD: I think we are still searching for the meaning of Indian design. Having said
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arrested. Will global public outrage follow?
0 that, I firmly believe we have a great future. Some inspiring projects / brands for me are Titan Heritage, Raga, Tata Nano, and Fab India. Anand Patel, Architect: In the last 50 years the historical turn around in Indian design has been through the idea and establishment of NID in Ahmedabad by the Eameses and the Sarabhais and the Government of India. Otherwise the LOTA is still the truly unique Indian design so far!
Paavani Bishnoi, Design Researcher: Indian weaving techniques have evolved a lot with time; one of the best examples is the saree, which used to be woven only with cotton but now an assortment of raw materials and techniques are used to add more allure to it. There are others. India is a rural country where people still ride bicycles, and 4-wheelers are not affordable, and Tata Motors’ Nano made the dream of the common man to buy a car possible. Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), the public transport of Delhi which runs on CNG (compressed natural gas), is largest public service operator in the world. Shiva Kumar, Apparatus: The most visible event for the world was Le Corbusier designing Chandigarh. But the true turning point was the establishment of the National Institute of Design. Creating a knowledge center is the perfect way to grow a discipline. Viren Razdan, Interbrand: In recent times, hands-down, the TATA Nano has been a landmark achievement. Not only did it break our clichéd image of a ‘handicraft cum software’ country, but it outdid a lot of skeptics. It turned the wheel quite literally from the Gandhi Charkha to the future of technology. The Nano has bucked a global trend to invent small and efficient cars, and opened up a whole new segment of cars called the ‘Nano segment’.
It’s deeply rooted in transformational innovation – often called ‘jugaad’ which together converges into what may be called ‘Gandhian engineering’ Bimal Patel, HCP: The design of the Indian Constitution! The designers of the Constitution first imagined an India that works for everyone. They then created a set of rules and a system of governance that would help us get there. Given the complexity of the problem, it has worked amazingly well.
What is Indian Design? Abhijit Bansod, Studio ABD: I am sure it is different for different people. For me personally, Indian Design is anything inspired by a unique Indian situation, heritage, people, places or professions, layered with storytelling, progressive feel and sophistication.
Gavin Remedios, Remedios Studio: Indian Design to me is something that is ‘Made in India’ by Indians -NOT just for India but the entire world. Kangan Arora, Textile Designer: Indian design is traditional, quirky and elaborate. Modern Indian Design has yet to build a recognizable esthetic. I think Indian design and Indian craft can sometimes become synonymous to one another and it is important for us to somehow create a notable difference between the two. The latter has been severely diluted by the introduction of cheap, easily manufactured imitations and we need to be careful that traditional crafts do not die because of this. Paavani Bishnoi, Design Researcher: The Indian design scenario is still in a confused state because of diversification and we designers always keep looking for ideas that are ‘made locally, served globally’. Peter Alwin, Product Designer: Indian design has always existed but we have understood its value only in the last few decades. Indian design has always been inspired directly from its ancient art, culture and architecture. Now people have started to move from the design point of view to having an Indian identity. I believe Indian design, especially in the field of industrial (product and interior) design (not textile apparel and lifestyle), has still to get an identity in the global market.
Anand Patel, Architect: Indian design is where the purpose of something, what it’s intended for, how affordable it is and how it is produced have no homogeneity whatsoever. But by some miracle, it happens and people use it! Indian Design is adaptation, adjustment and compromise. It’s garishly eye-catching, hopelessly cheap, and mercilessly defective.
Shiva Kumar, Apparatus: Indian designers should wake up to a frame of reference that is neither fully urban nor borrowed from an alien culture. Designing for this complex country of varied languages, cultures and ethnicity lies in defining the context right. Indian design is about realization of products or solutions for this specific context established through research and created using global best practices in technology. For example, designing farm implements for the terraced fields of the wet north east or designing a vernacular newspaper for a large southern state.
Bimal Patel, HCP: Design that helps make the life of ordinary Indians more comfortable, meaningful and joyous.
Viren Razdan, Interbrand: Fundamentally, ‘Indian’ design is about inclusivity, it’s about simplification, it’s about cost efficiency maximization.
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0 seriously and become more open minded about it. Design education will be more than what is taught at University. It will be an important part of each individual’s day to day life through better design focused magazines, retail outlets, and a design community. I believe that with increasing awareness more people will consider taking it up as their profession, and hence the demand for good design institutes will increase more than it already has.
It’s deeply rooted in transformational innovation – often called ‘jugaad’ which together converges into what may be called ‘Gandhian engineering’. Our cultural codes have been about ‘simple living and high thinking’. And the high thinking has not sought Design as a fodder for exclusivity; it’s been an enabler, a facilitator. What is the future of design education? Abhijit Bansod, Studio ABD: As India is growing in its confidence, even design education will go through the same. We should build risk taking abilities, global vision and self belief in design students to create new design leaders for the new India. I hope we will share our sustainable and inclusive growth story with the rest of the world, and design will play a big role in the same.
Design education should be part of secondary school Anand Patel, Architect: The future is bright as a tube light. After all, Obama has just pledged the greatest American support to higher education in India! Gavin Remedios, Remedios Studio: I think design education in 10 years will be taught by companies directly and not by design schools. So far design schools have been good in teaching students fundamentals, which are very important. In some departments this can form the backbone of a student’s career. However practical and participatory training is
Design education will be more than what is taught at the university. It will be an important part of each individual’s day to day life through better design focused magazines, retail outlets, and a design community very important and should be introduced more. Most institutions in India don’t keep themselves up to date with the latest trends in technology and in the world; this would be greatly beneficial to students. The rise in fees is something that I am against. Another trend is that quality faculty is on a downward spiral. Take the example of two great institutions - at NID greed seems to be overtaking quality, whereas at IDC it is the opposite. There will only be a dent in the current education system when industry starts showing that the certificate does not matter as much as ambition and drive coupled with skill. However the downside of that is it could affect students too because everything would be private - training, tutors directly run by organizations, etc. I think the business of education has taken over the fact that education was meant to pass on knowledge. Kangan Arora, Textile Designer: I think design will play a bigger role in our lives as people begin to take it more
Paavani Bishnoi, Design Researcher: Design education should be part of secondary school only because all our interactions are designed in a certain manner and it’s important to know how form follows function. As of now, the country has design schools where students can only enroll after the 12th standard. National Institute of Design and IIT offer specialization in different streams. Peter Alwin, Product Designer: The future of design education is great as it is going in the right direction. With more and more people getting to know about design education in India, and recognizing the value of it, there will be more support and encouragement for the next generation to come. In industrial design especially, with so much new technology coming, the design process will go to the next level. Things are getting much faster and easier and there are more possibilities to explore and innovate during the learning process. Students of design are already fit to face the industry as they are quite aware of the technology and processes followed in the industry. Shiva Kumar, Apparatus: Institutions should equip young designers with a palette of components that help them build solutions that affect lives. This pedagogy will reinforce basic design competencies with context sensitive articulation to arrive at a holistic solution that engages users consistently across multiple nodes of engagement. The future of design education lies in creating responsible professionals who can deliver and articulate humanistic results within intricate contexts. Viren Razdan, Interbrand: Education is largely driven by Industry and Commerce. The first wave of the Industrial Revolution (manufacturing)
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0 saw the emergence of engineering and skill development. Management was perhaps the next phase - the management of manufacturing, making it more efficient, marketable and financially viable, and so we saw the MBA wave taking over the engineering and skill development phase. Design Management or design’s strategic space has been embraced in spurts and so has Design Education. It is limited to a few countries and cultures, and India is far behind in this race. We are perhaps the weakest in this area - we have not been able to keep pace with the changing face of Design Acceptance and Design Development. Our attitude has been a bit Rip Van Winkelish. We have had a terrific past which we have preserved in patches but have not been able to extend it into the future. Our privileged past of Design
Thinking – evident in yoga for example – could not produce transformational next generation models. There are two aspects to this – access and culture. Our access to institutions is weak, and the industry culture is nascent. How has the journey been? What, in your opinion, should we watch out for in terms of phenomena/ design firm/upcoming technology/ philosophy? Abhijit Bansod, Studio ABD: It’s been a decade since I started working in the design industry. We always looked up to big brands to create design change in the industry; now there is a serious challenge to this theory. Currently we are working with a couple of entrepreneurs in their early 20s and I can surely tell that these guys will change the way we think things work. From powering rural India, liberating Indians from home food to gesture based new communication devices, it’s all happening here and will kick some serious butt! I am sure there are millions doing the same, and one can imagine the collective impact of this on our country! Bimal Patel, HCP: For most of the past 50 years we believed that we were going to be different; that India was not going to go the way of the materialist west and that we were going to chart a different future. But the isolationist mode that we had put ourselves into was not getting us anywhere. Today we run the danger of not thinking at all and mindlessly importing the worst from the rest of the world. We have to take the best from the world and add to it and hopefully, show the world how we may all live.
Today we run the danger of not thinking at all and mindlessly importing the worst from the rest of the world.
Kangan Arora, Textile Designer: The journey has been and still is one of self realization and understanding that it’s important to stick to your roots. People in the west are going back to old traditions and trying to revive and preserve their cultures. I think before long we will realize that in India, we have something unique with our craftsmen and their exceptional hand skills, whether in embroideries, weaving, pottery or wood crafts, etc. We should watch out for an emerging Indian design esthetic that will be solely and truly Indian.
Paavani Bishnoi, Design Researcher: The Indian Design journey is not so exciting though we always had potential. For instance, we have great talent in Information Technology but we haven’t launched a single product like Google or Facebook that is specially made by Indians. Peter Alwin, Product Designer: During my design education at NID, I tried and explored all possible ways in the field of industrial design - from furniture design internships, to winning international home appliance design challenges to doing my diploma with a car company. Hence this has always kept me updated with technology and its future. This is a continuous phenomena; the technology boom takes design to a different level altogether. We should watch out for upcoming technology and keep adapting to it.
The technology boom takes design to a different level altogether. We should watch out for upcoming technology and keep adapting to it. Shiva Kumar, Apparatus: The Indian future is set in the vernacular. Every solution is going to be made ready to fare well in the non-urban context. Indian designers should venture out of their
@nithinkd All this “exposing diplomatic exchange” must be thrilling and shit, but I think freedom is a load of bull beyond a point 20 POOL | 12.10 | #6
0 Blogger comfort zone of urban cubbyholes and get ready to play in the larger arena. We will also see technologies that help us manage crowd sourced solutions and peer to peer collaborative creative platforms that help create stronger virtual teams. The user will participate, partially create and eventually use solutions. This process will be owned, moderated and enhanced by professional designers. Viren Razdan, Interbrand: The journey up until now has truly been a ride on an elephant, slow and steady. We need some strong ambassadors, national evangelists and pioneeringprogressive leadership. We will see a lot of methodology coming in from the West – now it’s up to us to adapt and implement it or transform and innovate for the future. Technology will dictate the next frontier and we need to embrace that. Who/what is your design icon - a person/company/project that you really admire and look up to? Kangan Arora, Textile Designer: Tara Books, based in Chennai, for the beautiful hand screen printed books they make, depicting both traditional and contemporary stories in traditional art forms from around the country. And Judy Frater from Kalaraksha who founded the Kalaraksha design school for artisans. Paavani Bishnoi, Design Researcher: Lots of people with a design background have inspired me but I still like people with whom I interact in daily life, like a carpenter who has simple jugaad methods for working designs. Our design methodologies should be simple and working. Another inspiration is Mr. M.P. Ranjan from NID, Ahmedabad whom I interacted with in real life – I am inspired by his adaptability to make changes in the design world with the use of futuristic technology and natural materials. Peter Alwin, Product Designer: One of my all time favorites is the ‘Gina concept’ car produced by BMW under the designer Chris Bangle. It is a spectacular piece of innovation – it pushes the limits by playing with the volume of the car and the material used. It has got a surprise factor for sure.
ramya-mohan.blogspot.com Bangalore-based design consultant Ramya Mohan takes a break from her travels to record eclectic impressions in her aptly named blog A bangle seller hawking his wares fires her imagination as much as a stray dog relaxing by the roadside. As she travels through the country there are a myriad things that strike this young designer’s eye and she records them all on her blog ‘In Transit’. “The idea for a blog came into being while I was working with Dastkar Andhra, an NGO in Hyderabad. I was traveling extensively and felt the need to put down some of my experiences,” she says. “In Transit began as a space for personal reflection and an attempt to bring various aspects of my work and experiences together. Be it a label or product that interests me, a place or a sketch, they all contribute to my design thinking and that’s what makes it special.” Ramya did a Graduate Diploma in Design from the National Institute of Design, graduating in textile design, and finds that her professional life does tend to influence her blog. Drawing forms a significant part of her life and In Transit also gives her the opportunity to put these drawings together. “Like any other discipline of design, most of the time I am on a constant look-out for interesting pictures/ patterns or places that I can use as inspiration for my work. From my drawings too, I explore techniques and styles that I can use
when I make my design artworks,” she admits. “I had always felt a need to document parts of my life that I thought I could revisit and review,” she says about her foray into blogging. The name of her blog says it all. In Transit is a break from her constant travels, a space where she records her experiences through words and illustrations. “I hope that through my blog I can share my work, inspire and reach more people.” Word has been spreading about her blog, justifying the time Ramya spends on it. “I don’t keep a fixed time schedule for blogging but I do try and post as often as possible. It does get pretty erratic sometimes and then I go on a posting spree for a while!” Her inspiration comes from blogs like Little Design Book, The Sartorialist, Print+Pattern, and millionlittlestitches among others. “Good bloggers are able to express themselves in a manner that people can associate with and be inspired from. A good blog allows the reader to network with others who may have similar ideas. The best blogs are those that have had me feverishly surfing to go beyond the post. And I always revisit a good blog,” she reveals. For Ramya, being in transit has a lot of potential!
the art of s Comic book artist Saumin Patel’s illustrations tell a tale with stunning effect “I am a student of storytelling trying to tell stories through my work,” is how Mumbaibased comic book artist and illustrator Saumin Patel describes himself. “My job as a comic book artist is to bring visual appeal to any and every kind of story I am working on, whether it be horror or fantasy or a slice of life.” Saumin’s comic book characters do not fit the old fashioned stereotype – edgy and striking, they practically leap off the pages. “I constantly push my limits further and learn more. My work is a mixed bag of my influences. I am deeply in love with anime for it stylization of reality and creation of fantasy,” he admits. “I try to get a lot of that in my work. I am in love with films. The vastness of David Lean’s landscape, the grit and blood of Scorsese, the mannerisms of Manmohan Desai’s characters, the madness of Michel Gondry and Terry Gilliam - all this and many more such things kind of land up in my work in tiny fragments. I don’t know if I can 22 POOL | 12.10 | #6
describe my style. For me it’s more about learning right now.” It’s difficult to believe that this commercial arts graduate from Mumbai’s Sir J. J. Institute of Applied Arts didn’t get admission to art college the first time he applied. “I went with my whole portfolio of work and the professor looked at it and said if I wished to get admission I would have to better my work and try again next year. So I went back and practiced that whole year,” remembers Saumin. His perseverance paid off and he was admitted the next year. On graduating he did several stints as an animator/illustrator for advertising agencies and television channels, engaging in jobs ranging from art direction to storyboarding. “Then I wanted to upgrade my art to the next level and started working on comic book based assignments. I joined Virgin Comics LLC not just out of love for the medium of comics but also to do my bit to make
â€œI have willingly chosen to move away from many commercial projects in order to work on comic books. I want people in India to see what can be done through the medium of comic books, so they can start respecting the medium and not reject it as kid stuff.â€?
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Maestros it more popular in India. I got to work with some of the best art guys in India and slowly understood the medium of comics beyond its candy colors and kiddie stories. I realized it’s the most unadulterated medium of storytelling.” It’s a lengthy creative process, but very satisfying. “My work starts off with designing characters and the environment as per the story. A lot of visual ideas are discussed and presented at this stage. Then the process of thumb nailing each page starts. Here I have to make sure that visually the flow helps to tell the story. After this the laborious process of penciling / inking / coloring is done…at each level one more layer of information/ detail is added to refine not only artwork but also story. It’s almost like I am getting to direct this story in a comic book format. In a way I am the cinematographer and director of the story I am working on and my job is to evoke certain feelings in my viewers that draw them closer to the story,” he reveals. Saumin is currently involved in a couple of projects for the Indian market. “I am hoping these will pave the way for me to keep working on more comic book based assignments, commissioned as well as
personal,” he says. “I have willingly chosen to move away from many commercial projects in order to work on comic books. I want people in India to see what can be done through the medium of comic books, so they can start respecting the medium and not reject it as kid stuff.” Something that is close to his heart is the 11page homage story to American fantasy and science fiction artist Frank Frazetta who died earlier this year. “I was working late at night when people started tweeting about Frank Frazetta’s death. I tried to put in few words how I felt but just couldn’t write anything at all. I was just unable to put in words what I was feeling, so I tried to analyze what was going on in my head. I did not want to look at Frank’s passing away as the end of a story. I felt he had fulfilled his karma 40 years back when he created some of the most powerful fantasy imagery. What happens to such a powerful soul after death I asked myself?” Saumin’s work can also be seen in the page of GQ, where he provides illustrations for columns ranging from fashion advice to sex queries and grooming. “Some of the articles are very bold - edging on vivid, dirty or erotic – and they have a lot of scope visually. One can choose to be graphic
about the depiction of such themes or one can go all out and create some really erotic imagery. I prefer going all out on these. I believe there is nothing on earth as beautiful and perfectly crafted as a woman’s body,” he admits. While comic book projects are a priority, Saumin is also working on ‘Chitrakatha – Beyond Balloons and Panels’, a documentary film on the history of Indian comic books made by his friend Alok Sharma. He is involved in a comic book adaptation of short stories and is independently working on various visual development projects for feature and ad films. There’s more to come. Saumin wants to bring his own stories to life one day, and work on an erotica comic book for India. “Simply because I love drawing females in skimpy outfits and I can make them look good! I also wish to make short films or feature - hack slash horror films full of blood, gore and creativity. But this is like seven years from now,” he assures. Meanwhile he’s come a long way from the first digital Santa image he created for a Christmas carnival. A long way indeed! email@example.com
Yes! Film is Design At 24, Shraddha Sakhalkar epitomizes the new face of Indian design. The bright and talented young journalist-turned-filmmaker has recently completed a Post-Graduate Diploma Program in Design from the National Institute of Design (NID), specializing in Film & Video Communication. Poised on the brink of a new career path, she talks to Pool about being part of the future of design in India. Tell us something about yourself. Shraddha: I am a Mumbaikar, born and raised. It is a large part of who I am. As for my tryst with films, it started quite late in life, during the under-graduate years at Mumbai´s Ruia college. My first big love is writing which eventually led to films. I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree (History). While waiting for my BA results I applied for NID with little clue about visual communication, none about design, some hope and firmly crossed fingers! Before joining NID did you have any clue that you wanted to study film and video? Shraddha: I was lucky to be in a college environment which was very open to new ideas and was very nurturing. Even though it had no formal fine arts course , I met a lot of film enthusiasts, young and old; we arranged screenings in the college auditorium or attended international film festivals in the city. It was during this time that I saw the works of film geniuses like Ingmar Bergman, Majid Majidi, Peter Greenaway and many more. Tell us about your final project. Shraddha: My final project at its core has a place in Girgaon, Mumbai called Khotachiwadi. Girgaon is famous for the Chowpatty with its chat, kulfi and ghoda-gadi. But what interests me in
is a four-part research paper dwelling on the history of Khotachiwadi and its tangible and intangible components.
Girgaon are the numerous wadis with their winding lanes and unique character. Khotachiwadi is one such wadi with a history dizzyingly dating back to the time before the Portuguese or British arrived in Mumbai. The project has two aspects. One of course is a film which is a 35 minute-long documentary called ´Konachi Wadi?´ which literally translated from Marathi means ´whose wadi?´. It explores the idea of what is a wadi afterall and its changing paradigms . The other aspect
Did you research this or did you already have some ideas? Shraddha: With my background in history, research was something I had done before and enjoyed. I had also written a short research paper on the history of the mills of Mumbai. I was always interested in how Mumbai has grown and I have been fasinated by the people-space interaction. How spaces influence/change people and vice versa. So, here is some experience, some interest and an inkling of an idea. I just did not know how all of them were going to come together. Till I saw a film on the Brahmaputra made by a senior - Prachi Mokashi. It was funded by the Ford Foundation. So, I decided to approach them with a proposal for which I did some preliminary research. Although I had a couple of ideas, I picked the one revolving around Khotachiwadi. It was the most promising because the community involvement in this wadi is great and the space is absolutely beautiful with its Burma-teak bungalows, art-deco buildings, chawls, etc. It was two things coming together and I thought it would make a good film and a compelling research paper.
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what you are trying to say. Obviously it does makes a difference. Each medium has its own advantages and disadvantages but that should be evaluated on a case to case basis. Whichever medium works for the project at hand should be chosen. Do you plan to focus only on documentaries? Shraddha: Bollywood right now doesn’t seem like a very appealing idea for me personally. A lot of my seniors are roughing it out there and they are doing a very good job of it. Many are in the southern film industry as well. I get different points of view from them but I don’t feel attracted to that sphere. I like telling human stories, real stories and even travel narratives. They can be in the fiction or documentary format. But stories people relate to.
And how are the reviews that you have been getting? Shraddha: The film has not been screened anywhere outside of NID yet because it is such a recent project. I am planning to screen it in the wadi this December. The residents really seem to be interested in seeing it and getting it shown. So the film has not been formally released yet? Shraddha: No, it was only screened for the jury and there was a screening in the NID auditorium for the NID community. So you are a postgraduate now. What are your plans for the future? Shraddha: You know, there are many insecurities that you graduate with. For instance, you don’t know exactly what you want to do but at the same time there are so many things you want to do. The world looks big and you feel tiny. But I have hopes that I will get to do the things I want to. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of really nice people doing different things, working together, so one thing for sure that I’ve learnt from NID is that collaboration is the key. That’s what I fell in love with when I came here for the first time to write my studio test... the fact that I saw people poking their noses into everything! So it was not product designers looking
at only product design and film students making only films. I want to continue doing that even when I go out. I want to collaborate with people from other walks of life, keep my work multidisciplinary. How is studying film in a design school different from studying film in a film school? Shraddha: That is something I didn’t realize till I attended the Mumbai International Film Festival 2010 (MIFF). There was an NID students’ package which was screened at MIFF. My classroom project which is a film on an Amdavadi heritage group of monuments called Sarkhej was a part of it. There were other student packages as well from renowned film schools like FTII and SRFTII which make films that have big units and sizeable budgets. At NID we work mostly with video and smaller budgets. But I realized on watching all the student films that the NID films were masterful in craft, mature and varied. They were truly representatives of pan-India. There were films from an urban background, some set in a town. There were films that touched rural lives, there were films that covered human stories, there were experimental films... This range I did not see anywhere in any other package at MIFF. There is always an argument about film verses video but I think the medium is not as important as
Going ahead now, let us talk about design. Your exposure has been to film and video, but within a design institute. So how do people view design outside? Do they understand what it is? And is there a market for design? Shraddha: I don’t know whether I have the experience to answer something like that. I am yet to go out as a designer and see the market and put myself out there so I’m not sure yet, but what I do know is learning film in a design institute broadens your world view. Anyone who says film is not design is kidding me. Everything in a film is by design. Behind every film is research, planning, a careful construct and an efficient team. What do you see as the future of design? What are you excited about? Shraddha: I’m excited. I’m scared! Excited because I’ve seen the possibilities at NID, scared because every time a relative or friend asks me what I do, and I tell them, they don’t understand. As soon as they hear ‘design’, in their mind it gets connected to fashion! So, when that connection happens, design gets limited to the arena of fashion. I feel that more people should know about design and there should be more awareness among the masses. I sometimes find that even teachers and educators in colleges or schools of a city like Mumbai don’t know what we do here exactly! firstname.lastname@example.org
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Sakshi Jain Photographed by Nitin Patel
Katha, a Delhi-based publishing house, transforms the lives of children through vibrant and colorfully illustrated storybooks that foster and encourage book cover art
Stories spin a magical world in a child’s vibrant, fascinated mind and each child is a font of her own stories, those that come out of her own imagination. It’s challenging, if not difficult, to clamber the high walls of a child’s imagination; to be able to see the world through her eyes, to re-enter spaces that we have long moved out of. Stories that a child reads or hears should tap the stories brewing inside her; they should be able to strike a dialogue with the child, at different levels, in different voices.
and lavishly illustrated stories, lovingly put together from practically every corner of the country, helped children to explore the richness of India, its culture, history, and environment, and the wonders of nature.
There is a dearth of evocative storybooks that linger in the minds of children and color their formative years. Katha, a ‘profit for all’ organization based in Delhi, started its children’s publishing program in 1988 with Tamasha!, a health and activity magazine for children from the undeserved communities. The brainchild of Geeta Dharmarajan, Founder and Executive Director of Katha, Tamasha! started as an attempt to get children to read meaningful and relevant literature. The magazine’s selection of innovative
Katha books for children are put together with special attention to the needs that each one demands. The Katha editorial team firmly believes that creativity fuels creativity, and constantly strives to make each children’s book a stand-alone piece of work, whether in content, design or quality of the end product. The creative team at Kathakaar - The Katha Centre for Children’s literature, shares with us Katha’s commitment, the challenges and opportunities, the way forward and much more...
After 22 years of hard work aimed at making children’s encounter with the written word a delight, and with a number of storybooks on the scoreboard, Katha still strives to weave the magic of words, pictures, song and drama, rhyme and verse, poems sung, and so much more.
Can you tell us how and why you started Katha’s publishing program? GD: Since the very inception of Katha, we have believed that children can bring change that is sustainable and real. And for them to work towards that change, it becomes imperative for them to read. We felt that having our own publishing imprint would offer a platform for the kind of books we wanted to see. As naive as it may sound, we did want to give it a try. How has Katha’s journey been so far? GD: Katha’s journey has been long and varied, marking progress from the germ of an idea and a dream, to an integrated program taking shape, spanning the literature, literacy, education spectrum through story in its myriad forms. Today, our innovative education is no longer a probability but has become an alternative. And definitely, a more effective one. What are the various literacy initiatives Katha is involved with? GD: Katha, with the Government of India, initiated the ‘I LOVE READING’
“This book was conceived in the spirit of whimsy. It is not meant for those who do not enjoy that spirit” -Sukumar Ray program to bring better reading skills to students in 50 municipal schools in Delhi. Based on the learning from this work, Katha proposed a school transformation concept to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi which includes four important elements - Classroom, Curriculum, Continuous Assessment, and Community School Link. The methodology is to work with teachers so they do these activities on their own, thus enhancing their own lifelong learning skills, and their ability to carry this forward in successive years. Katha also supports various literacy initiatives run by other organizations such as Pratham, Room to Read, the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, etc. and acts as an incubator for seeding the young. What has been Katha’s mission and vision as far as children’s literature goes? GD: Katha books work to promote excellence in children’s books. Kathakaar the Katha Centre for Children’s Literature - strives to make books a much-loved part of every child’s life. It endeavors
to initiate children into the colorful world of imagination and discovery by publishing splendidly illustrated picture books, green books, activity books - all to keep children engaged with the story and inspire them to read early and consistently. Driven by research and drawing inspiration from Katha’s various activities for children, Kathakaar works with a pool of writers and illustrators. Katha’s education program and its special curriculum and pedagogy have enabled Kathakaar to identify the needs of children and bring quality into literacy for greater impact and resonance. What kind of books does Katha publish? GD: Katha publishes books that give children a choice to move from the monoculture of western ideas, images, and identities to something culturally different and unique. The story (in words and images) should be powerful enough to give children not just another choice but a stronger choice. Katha also endeavors to break down gender, social and cultural
stereotypes through its books. Issues that affect women and girls, for example, are culturally rooted. It is through stories that they have gained acceptance and validity and through stories and other more ‘gently persuading’ material that they can be replaced by other, more progressive, ideas. As far as the genre goes, any genre is welcome but we specifically do books that can deeply move and are good reads. What kind of groundwork goes into making each book a new experience? GD: Katha believes in breaking the box, the clichés and the stereotypes, strives to look beyond the veil of obvious and is constantly looking for something different. Katha encourages new and innovative styles of writing and illustrations that can appeal to children and develop their sensibility. We are constantly on the look out for new talent. Katha also hosts a number of awards to applaud excellence in creating children’s books. The Katha Chitrakala Award for Excellence in Illustrating for Children is the first of its kind in India and has over
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Fairy Tales the years become one of the most talked about talent hunts in the country and around the globe. Why were the Katha Chitrakala Awards initiated? GD: Creating books for children is the most unpretentious act that one can ever do. The child does not respond to the name of the creator but to the creation. There is no dearth of talent in this country; what is important is to identify the talent, applaud and to make this a more rewarding vocation. When were the awards initiated? What kind of response do they get? GD: The Katha Chitrakala Award is a unique, first of its kind initiative to bring the very best of illustrators to Indian children. Katha instituted the Award in 1998. The Awards recognize and honor fresh talent in childrenâ€™s illustrations and storytelling. In 2005, the Chitrakala contest went international. Last year Chitrakala received an overwhelming response from across the globe with hundreds of entries coming in from as many as eight countries, not to mention from all corners of India. The award recognizes work of exceptional merit and is given to imagesmiths whose works showcase creativity of a rare caliber and an inclusive worldview. How are the winners chosen? GD: The selection procedure is eclectic and rigorous. The preliminary short listing of entries by the Katha editorial and design team is followed by an international jury of eminent artists and illustrators choosing pre-finalists and finalists. How do the winners benefit? GD: The Awards honor the illustrators with a citation, a cash award, and with a publication. Which books came out of Chitrakala last year? GD: Rajiv Eipe, a practicing animation film designer from Mumbai, won the Grand Prize for his illustrations for the story Dinosaur-Long-As127-Kids; and the writer-illustrator team of Diego Castellanos and Paula Bossio from USA and Durga Bai, a Gond artist from Madhya Pradesh were adjudged Runners Up for their stories Ball Heaven and Mai and her friends respectively. All the three books are out in the market now and have been earning some wonderful reviews. Some last words on creating books for children. GD: Creating books for children involves retaining the ability to romp around with them, in spirit at least, if not physically. As Sukumar Ray writes in his preface to Abol Tabol, â€œThis book was conceived in the spirit of whimsy. It is not meant for those who do not enjoy that spiritâ€?. www.katha.org
Leonardo with a revolutionary cause An obituary to Dashrath Patel By Uday Dandavate It’s hard to describe Dashrath Patel in words. He was like a fragrance that lingers in your memory long after it you have been in its vicinity. He was a revolutionary with nuclear energy emanating from his imagination. His enthusiasm for life betrayed childlike freshness that could never be suppressed by the structure of an organization or dictates of administrators. His innate creativity found its expression in a wide variety of media he exploredexhibition design, photography, painting, and above all his abstract line compositions which, in my mind placed him only equal to Paul Klee. In fact it was Dashrath who first introduced me to Paul Klee’s definition of a line, “Taking a dot for a walk’. That was Dashrath’s style of bringing alive most profound concepts with illustrations, quotes and narratives that were both inspiring and memorable. I can cite so many of his quotable quotes. The most memorable was about himself, “I am illiterate and speak broken English fluently,” said Dashrath when referring to his lack of structured education and imperfect English. His 32 POOL | 12.10 | #6
narratives had a lot more impact on us, the students of the National Institute of Design, than any other profound philosophers or teachers who had undergone formal training in any field. Dashrath was one of the co-founders of the National Institute of Design (NID). He was the first radical, politically minded designer I have met. The only other person from a creative field who has had comparable impact on my personal philosophy of design and life was Kamladevi Chattopadhyay, who through her close association with India’s freedom fighters and political fraternity, brought focus on the role of rural artisans in India’s development. I remember visiting “Skills”, a project founded by Dashrath, Chandralekha, Sadanand Menon and a group of artists and designers in Madras during the exploratory stage of my thesis at NID. I was searching for inspiration to select a topic with a social cause and I could only think of Dashrath who would align me with such a cause and a sense of purpose for my design project. At that time I vividly remember that Skills was being persecuted by the then MGR administration for conceptualizing a poster with the image of a policeman bearing medals of
honor each carrying an inscription, “Rape”, “Murder” and “Robbery”. I walked away from a weeklong stay with my friends in Madras with a renewed sense of commitment to design for change. I ended up doing a project on Design for solid waste management and selected Iswharbhai Patel of Safai Vidyalaya as my guide. Ishwarbahai is known for pursuing Gandhi’s experiments in low cost sustainable toilets. Dashrath left NID while I was still a student. We had a mutual admiration for each other which was never expressed but was clear in how we treated each other. He empathized with me because I was a student at NID during the days when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had put both my parents in prison. I admired him for his nonconformist zeal. To my mind he betrayed the creativity of Leonardo da Vinci with a revolutionary bent of mind. Dashrath’s life has taught me one most important thing: “Never let any established system constrain your imagination and pursuit of what you believe in. If you can dream it you can make it happen.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Dashrath Patel, co-founder of the National Institute of Design and our beloved mentor and friend, passed away on December 1, 2010. Dashrathbhai was born in 1927 in Sojitra in Gujarat and had never married. A contemporary of artists like VS Gaitonde, Charles Eames, MF Husain and Tyeb Mehta, he was a creative soul to his last day in actions and thoughts. Those of us who had the incredible luck of meeting and learning from him feel blessed to have had him in our lives. Dashrathbhaiâ€™s creativity lay in all aspects of art, from ceramics to graphics and painting. The person who inspired so many of us to strive for creativity, expand our minds, question our thoughts, and never stop learning, might be no more but his legacy lives on in his institution and the people he mentored. â€”Pravin Mishra, NID
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