Sunday, September 16, 2007

Giving Design back to Society: An expanded vision for design in India

It is our intension to raise a debate about What is Design? and what could be its role in India as a part of this course at NID. Post Graduate students who have come in to study design may come in for a surprise when they see a very different picture of design being discussed in the class from what they had perhaps envisaged when the had first decided to take up their study of design at NID.

This is also due to the fact that Design itself is unfolding in many different ways and many researchers and practitioners are finding numerous new facets that were not recognised when the profession and the disciplines were founded in the last century. Having had its roots in the Industrial Revolution as a result of some serious reflection on the effects of hard nosed industrialisation the founders ofdd the Arts and Crafts movement responded to the cold inductrial products with a series of explorations into the meanings of form and aesthetics in the industrial products of the day. The search for modernism led to the establishment of the Bauhaus in Germany in 1919 and here a whole new approach to design education was pioneered by a dedicated group of architects and artists. The Foundation course in design all over the world can find its roots in the early experiments at the Bauhaus. This experiment was curtailed due to the World War II and the events in Nazi Germany and many of the teachers moved to the USA and founded the New Bauhaus.

After the War Germany was in the process of rebuilding itself and a group of visionary artists and designers set up the HfG Ulm and from 1950 to its closure in 1968 the Ulm School of Design once again explored new ground and made design history by their research and practice of design. Once again the closure of the school saw the students and teachers migrate all over the world since they were a multi-cultural group to start with and they have influenced design education across the world. The centres of design experimentation and development shifted back to the Uk and in London the RCA and the Design Couincil set up new research agendas for themselves and the field of Design Methodology was founded in the early 60's and through the 70's it spread around the world in search of a scientific basis of design. Many people subscribed to the view and participated in making design as scientific as possible and in the forefront were the thinkers from the fields of architecture, engineering as well as the fledgling field of industrial product design.

However this romance with the scientific way has now been challanged by many failures and the discovery that design could handle and deal with so called "wicked problems" where all of our known sciences failed quite badly. Areas where huiman intensions and values interacted with economics and technology it created a potent mix of complexity which no known discipline of science or management coiuld qiote cope with on their own. The need for an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approach was mooted and in the process we have discovered many new approaches to design and more are there to be found in the days ahead. The field of design research have emerged and numerous designers are now working closely with experts from other disciplines and in the process are redefining design itself.

During this course we will explore some of these issues and concepts associated with design, designing and design research and at the end we hope to have a fresh approach that is deeply understood bt the students through a journey of exploration and discovery, learning by doing, and not just by listening and reading, although we will have a good deal of that too.

Podcast: Giving Design back to Society based on a pdf show 812 kb for download here

This podcast is based on a lecture that I had delivered at the IDSA Conference in Austin Texas last year where I had shared with the largely American audience our current understanding of design and the convictions that we had arrived at through the numerous development initiatives that we have had at NID over the years.

For me it has been an exhilerating journey that started in 1969 when I first joined NID as a Post Graduate student of Furniture Design and later as a faculty member at NID having seen it evolve over these years of involvement. Like the Big Tree in the Gautam-Gira Square we have seen NID and Design evolve and we can share some of our insights while you discover some for yourself.

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