Design for India

Sep 17, 2013, 02:04 IST | Soma Das

The British Council has released Creating Change, a publication that features 12 design-based stories (narrative and graphic) from across India, and covers a range of topics from design for happiness, design as a communications tool with rural audiences, to design meant to boost the Indie music scene

While the mention of the word ‘design’ draws to mind its aesthetic significance, it can also be a mode of change and help influence people. Drawing attention to this is Creating Change, a publication by the British Council, supported by GREAT and Kyoorius. The Mumbai launch took place on September 12.

Creating Change features
12 stories inspired by modern-day India. The book includes a piece by graphic designer Anya Rangaswami’s titled The Little Things, which explores the concept of designing for happiness, graphic designer and visual artist Mira Malhotra’s Design for India, Design for Its Villages, which describes the challenges of communicating to rural audiences in India.

Creating Change has 12 design stories from across India

Moving to Indie music, there is a piece by product development specialist Ritesh Rathi and Mira Malhotra, titled Striking a Chord with Design, which looks at how India’s young musicians and festivals are using design to reach out to their fans. The remaining stories cover textile design heroes and architecture for the marginalised.

The authors were identified through workshops organised by the British Council and conducted by British writer William Shaw in May, across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. They were mentored through a series of online master classes by UK writing experts Shumi Bose from Blueprint and Patrick Burgoyne from Creative Review.

An illustration from Shreeya Kurein’s piece

Desi design
Aanchal Sodhani, Project Manager (Arts) at British Council, leads us in, “In this publication, design in India is looked at from many angles. There is a historic perspective on crafts, the coming-of-age of Indian comics, the use of design processes in wildlife conservation to graphic design for a rural audience.”

Sodhani states that it’s an exciting time for design in India, thanks to a spurt in design schools, events and conferences. “From the restricted notion of design being something to do with products, fashion and graphics, there is a move towards it being a tool to solve problems -- designing services and systems,” she explains.

Describing design as a powerful agent of change, Sodhani admits that the recognition of design as something more than a stylistic tool seems to be missing in India: “Our vision is to empower the design community in India to inspire a cross section of the society -- whether the government, the corporate or a layperson -- on the importance of investing in design.

The other important objective was to draw attention to Indian design. Even the younger design community in India seems ignorant that we have an impressive design history that needs to be celebrated.”

Story behind the design
Design and its significance in today’s world is the topic of Mumbai-based designer Ruchita Madhok’s piece, titled What We Talk About When We Talk About Design. Madhok (29) is the founder of Kahani Design Works and in Creating Change, she offers a narrative on what design means in India and what it has come to represent for the design community in the country.

“At Kahani, we believe that every act of design is to tell a story. Through design, we can show the plurality of perspectives and find a common ground to influence everybody, be it the government or individuals. My piece delves on ways in which designis and can be understood,” she states. Madhok adds that it was a challenge for her to compress all the information she had and the reference materials into panels. While Madhok’s pieceis in the form of a graphic, the remaining pieces are in narrative form.

“For the piece, I conducted interviews with a cross section of people across the city, ranging from college students to drivers and cleaning staff with an idea of creating a discourse on design,” she concludes.

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