Monday, October 29, 2007

Scenarios for making the City a Creative Place from NID Paldi Batch 3

Scenarios from the Festivals & Culture group

Scenarios for a Creative City from NID Paldi batch 3
Students of the Toy Design, Lifestyle & Accessory Design, Animation Film Design, Film & Video and Ceramic Design programmes at NID Paldi campus formed the third batch of the DCC course. They were assigned four areas to investigate and develop concepts after building shared perspectives through a process of brainstorming, categorisation, modeling and metaphor building. All the groups looked at the issues dealing with the Strategies for building Creative Cities in India. They had to make sense of what they saw was happening in Ahmedabad and build a shared understanding of these developments through a process of making sense of the data that was available at hand. The four areas assigned included Healthy Sports in the City, Art Infrastructure for the City, Public Education to make the City a Creative Place, and to Enhance the Festivals and Culture of the City all to be examined from the perspective of sustainability and creativity. The selected scenarios developed by each of these groups is shown below. Click each image to enlarge

Scenarios from the Healthy Sports group

Scenarios from the Art Infrastructure group

Scenarios from the Public Education group

This batch included 50 students from the Post Graduate disciplines of Toy Design, Lifestyle & Accessory Design, Animation Film Design, Film & Video and Ceramic Design programmes at NID Paldi campus.

Scenarios for sustainability from NID Paldi batch 2

Scenarios for sustainability from NID Paldi batch 2 (one from the Learning group)
Students of the Transportation & Automobile Design, Product Design, Apparel Design, Graphic Design and Strategic Design management programmes at NID Paldi campus formed the second batch of the DCC course. They were assigned five areas to investigate and develop concepts after building shared perspectives through a process of brainstorming, categorisation, modeling and metaphor building. All the groups looked at the issues dealing with the Sustainability as a Principle for Design Action in India. They had to make sense of what they saw was happening and build a shared understanding of these developments through a process of making sense of the data that was available. The five areas assigned included Learning, Food, Health, Play and Mobility all to be examined from the perspective of sustainability. The scenarios developed by each of these groups is shown below. Click each image to enlarge.

Scenarios from the Learning Group.

Scenarios from the Food Group.

Scenarios from the Health Group.

Scenarios from the Play Group.

Scenarios from the Mobility Group.

This batch included 64 students in all from the Transportation & Automobile Design, Product Design, Apparel Design, Graphic Design and Strategic Design management programmes at NID Paldi campus. Some of their scenarios are shown above.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Scenarios for sustainability from NID Paldi batch 1

Scenarios for sustainability from NID Paldi batch 1
Students of the Furniture Design and Textile Design programmes at NID Paldi campus formed the first batch of the DCC course at Paldi this semester. They were assigned three areas to investigate and develop concepts after building shared perspectives through a process of brainstorming, categorisation, modeling and metaphor building. All the groups looked at the issues dealing with the Future of the Retail sector in India that are being transformed rapidly by the entry of big players and corporate entities and soon to be made open to multinationals as well. They had to make sense of what they saw was happening and build a shared understanding of these developments through a process of making sense of the data that was available.

The first group looked at Fresh food and organic food was the area addressed by them through the process described above.

The second group looked at issues of sustainability in Home Electronic products and opportunities for the retail sector.

The third group looked at the area of Provisions for the home through local shops and examined the sustainability issues that could be explored and envisaged as viable scenarios that could be taken forward.

In many cities and metros the small scale retailers are getting agitated by these rapid changes and are asking for a review of government policies in these sectors. Some very contentious issues and political opportunism has resulted in a lot of protest but few ideas have emerged as to what alternatives we have at hand and if we had these alternatives shown as visible scenarios these could inform some of the policy changes and gat political acceptance from the affected people as well. Can design thinking and action help show some of these alternatives which can then be debated and used to inform the decision making process and this too after we examine the issues of sustainability and social equity which are at stake in this area.

Shown above are some of the scenarios prepared by the individual students who worked in teams in the early stages (as described earlier see link here) and in the final stage of this two week course they explored five design opportunities which they personally felt had value and merit. One of these design opportunities was then taken forward as a scenario visualisation exercise in the process of learning design thinking and action as part of this course in Design Concepts and Concerns at NID. Some selected scenarios from each of these groups are shown here. In all this batch was composed on 30 students, all at the post Graduate level and coming from very different backgrounds.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Brainstorming Strategies for a Creative City: Presentations and Critique

Brainstorming Strategies for a Creative City: Presentations and Critique
Image: Rashmi Korjan from Studio Korjan, Ahmedabad and visiting faculty at NID commenting on the presentation made by the Sports group

Students prepared brainstorming charts and developed a structure for each of the areas that was assigned to them namely – Art Infrastructure, Healthy Sport, Culture & Festivals and Public Education - all to be used as a vehicle for making the city into a creative resource for its people. While the efforts were made by all groups, they however failed to deliver completed metaphors that were originally intended but they did present an intermediate structure and preliminary models which were critiqued and discussed in the class presentations shown below. The student groups and their presentation offerings are shown below with the respective team members. This time the groups had difficulty in their categorisation and all the groups had great brainstorming insights but these were quickly reduced to simple structures which seemed quite pre-meditated and therefore missed the richness of insights seen in the brainstorming sheets. While commenting on this the teachers diagnosed the effect and commented on possible sources for this problem. Many people have this difficulty in expanding the design space in the early stages of trying to define a space in the search of a deeper understanding of both the subject as well as the context of the situation particularly since the task involved both macro as well as micro aspects of details. the tendency to generalise at the cost of tyhe rich details was seen as the cause for this problem. However an early failure in a design situation is a good thing since it shows the team several insights with a great deal of clariry which would otherwise have been missed altogether. We will comment on the next stage after these experiences are reflected upon by the teams and some of the insights from this reflection are processed with the groups and the teaching team in the class tomorrow.

Image: Public Education exploration group
Image: Culture and Festival exploration group
Image: Healthy Sport exploration group
Image: Arts Infrastructure exploration group

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Scenarios for sustainability and social equity from Bangalore

Scenario by Sandhya Kumari:

The students from the Bangalore Centre have submitted their final scenarios which they have derived from their explorations in the sectors assigned to them. Farm Fresh produce, Dairy and Poultry products as well a handcrafted Products all to be seen from the supply chain which would support sustainability as well as social equity. A few examples of their scenarios is shown above and below. Scenario visualisation is a critical part of design thinking and action since the imaginations of an individual are shared with many and in the discussions that follow the mental models get refined and updated and the process of development and improvement goes forward. For a more detailed note on Design thinking see the blog post on Design for India and the earlier post on the Design Journey on this blog below.

Scenario by Richa Sharma:

Scenario by Dinesh P:

Scenario by Usha Singh:

Scenario by Chandini Garg:

Can Indian Cities become Creative Again? If so, how do we design these cities?

Can Indian Cities become Creative Again? How do we set about designing these cities?

Richard Florida in his book “The Flight of the Creative Class” examines and defines the shift of activities to urban centres around the world that provide supports and sustenance for the creative community and as these centres grow they tend to attract more such people. At the end of the Industrial Revolution the availability of material resources and expertise by way of knowledge held sway over the production of wealth in the cities and centres of high production. However now it is sharply veering towards services and these are based on knowledge and expertise and those cities that are able to attract the young performers is able to grow rapidly and far outstrip the growth of the former industrial giants. This centres of power and productivity is moving towards yet another shift which is being driven by the growth of the creative industries and it is only those cities that are able to attract the creative professionals who work in these industries are able to show signs of very high growth and the creation of wealth in these centres. Richard Florida is a professor of management at the Rotmans School of Management, Toronto that is also well known for using design and innovation as a driver for management education and is now rated among the top 10 management schools in the world by leading international business magazines. The school is headed by the visionary Dean, Roger Martin who shifted the focus to design and innovation in 1998 and these shifts are well documented in the Rotmans magazine available as pdf files and is published thrice a year.

These cities are characterized by several features that are attractive for the young creative professional and these include both work related facilities as well as those that support community of creative professionals as well as provide sustenance fro a host of creative activities across a large number of interest areas. The infrastructure for these activities are an essential part of what these cities have to offer and along with these the attractive elements would include high quality accommodation, travel and transport facilities and centres of activities that offer a wide range of creative interests. It is in order to explore and articulate the renewal of our cities by the imaginative use of design that we have included these topics as part of the Design Concepts and Concerns course at NID. This week we have assigned four broad areas for our fifth batch of Post Graduate students at Paldi. This batch includes students from the Film & Video discipline, Animation Film Design, Ceramic Design, Toy Design and the Lifestyle and Accessory Design disciplines.

The task assigned to them asks the students to examine through brainstorming, categorization and modeling the issues relating to the empowerment of the city populations to make them both interested and capable of contributing directly to the four chosen areas of city life with the intention that we need not wait for governments to act while the city population could take up some of these planning tasks on their own initiative and use the government systems as a key support mechanism. The specific areas assigned to the four groups are as follows: Design opportunities and empowerment of local populations to initiate the design and creation of new infrastructure, services, facilities and activities in the four broad areas listed below:
1. Healthy Sports
2. Art & Infrastructure
3. Public Education
4. Festivals and Culture

We do see that with the application of a little bit of imagination and the creation of new norms and laws we could help transform of cities into robust centres of creativity and then we should be able to expect a very high growth in these cities that are in line with Richard Florida’s assessment. All, the students of the five batches mentioned above have been asked to explore one of these four groups and to jointly present their findings to the class on Monday the 22 October 2007. Each group would need to explore their own past experiences and in the process of brainstorming try and capture all the nuances of the identified areas of concern and try to plumb all that they already know about the subject and its context through random check-listing followed by categorization. The creation of categories is an important and non-mechanical task, which may generate a great deal of debate and discussion. Through this process we hope to build a collective vision of what opportunities and challenges exist within this chosen space, which the group can build a consensus on as part of this assignment. This journey will also show us the contours of what is as yet unknown to the group, which would be partly revealed, by the class discussion and critique from the teachers of this course during the class presentations.

The categorization of the key words discovered in the brainstorming session would also reveal an agreed structure for the design opportunity space which can be refined and articulated with the use of image and typography conventions which show the hierarchy of the terms as well as the parts of the system as the group understands it at this stage. The discovered structure is then mapped onto a selected metaphor, which is identified, by creative explorations and discussions within the group. Once an agreed structure is arrived at the group would build a final model using the created metaphor in the form of a large presentation poster which would be a rich picture of image and words drawn from the brainstorming sessions and the metaphor should help convey the whole as well as reveal the essential details within the relevant parts of the design opportunity space. This rich representation should be memorable and easy to decipher. Students can indicate the areas in which they have doubts as well as low levels of information since these would be areas that can be investigated in the next stages of the assignment, which would be undertaken after the class presentation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Design Journey: Styles and modes of thoughts and actions in design

Image: Design Journey: Thoughts and actions in design
The design journey starts in the mind and in the senses with the first perception of an interesting relationship and pattern that is triggered like the “stone in the pond” metaphor suggests. The ripples that are generated by the impact of the first sensations start a flow of excitement and this results in a dual process of exploration and inploration, an outward looking and pattern seeking behavior as well as an inward looking insight seeking behavior, both working in tandem. Exploration is much like that of an explorer wandering in an unknown territory and the search and research is done with a high degree of motivation seeking insights and nuggets of knowledge with all the curiosity and motivation that drives such a search for new knowledge. The inward journey which I call inploration is not just made up of a string of images being manipulated in the mind but these include numerous sensory inputs and information that is drawn from all the sensory sources of touch, smell, taste and feel as well as being informed by memory and prior knowledge that is made available in a non-verbal mode, with deep feeling and sensitivity.

Each surge of exploration is accompanied by a corresponding set of inplorations and these together produce a number of insights that are gathered and held in what I call the designers antennae, a a collective phrase for the reservoir of sensory and imaginary information that collectively leads to produce a degree of conviction in the direction and content of the design journey. The nature of design thinking goes through a variety of phases and these thinking styles and modes would change according to the stage in the particular design journey that is being undertaken. These modes of thought can be iterative and the designer is usually quite comfortable with a great deal of ambiguity that would need to be faced all through this kind of exploration and articulation. Starting with clarifying intentions through some pretty focused and also fuzzy explorations using intentional thinking the design journey would progress to the establishment of categories and a degree of order in the understanding of the design space. This would be done by repeated bouts of brainstorming and categorization till a suitable framework for the structure of the design space is developed and modeled. This process is not straight forward but could be like a meandering stream that flows through the terrain of the design landscape exploring the context and the trends are gleaned to inform further action in the form of tentative and later more definite insights that would feed into the designers convictions about the nature of the design opportunity. A variety of approaches are explored and these would be tested periodically at both the macro as well as the micro level of detail. The macro would inform the designer of the viability of the approach while the micro details would provide approaches to the numerous possibilities that would be available in the choice of materials, structure, form and performance attributes that could be taken up for further refinement at the stage of taking firm decisions.

A number of analytical tools could be adopted by the designer and these would be typically drawn for a host of disciplines and fields of human knowledge and depending on the nature of the task the knowledge could be from any domain that is found relevant and usually there us no hard and fast boundary for what would be considered a valid field to be included in such a journey. Access is important and the constraints of cost, access, ability of the designer and his team would usually determine what is included and what is excluded in the scope of the design journey. These explorations and inplorations would continue till the designer feels comfortable with the quality of the concepts or when the deadline for decision draws near when in a creative leap of motivated imagination a number of concepts are offered for examination and subsequent testing and evaluation. This is done through a unique set of thought patterns that move from explorative and generative in which many alternatives are thrown up and this is followed by rapid and deliberate combinatorial explorations which tend to produce a situation for the incubation of new and interesting patters in a creative leap of imagination and expression. All through these explorations numerous external representations are produced and set aside, rarely documented, but all of these produce traces in the mind that are rich with insights and these move quite explicitly form being abstract to being increasingly tangible in their form and treatment. For instance early expressions may take the form of deedless and later ones in the form of more explicit diagrams and even three dimensional expressions which too would move from soft models to a more hard models with defined contours and attributes. Cascading decisions are taken all along this journey and the early decisions are usually strategic in nature while the later decisions are of a more tactical nature and would deal with numerous details that would need to be resolved to make the concept fit the context which will be in constant review. However once the design action is taken in a reflexive space the act is done and it is usually out of the hands of the designer and only the consequences would be attributable to the designer and the final outcome could be either success or even disaster if the context were to change dramatically with the designer having little control on these outcomes.

While all these explorations are in progress the designers emotions too would go through a roller-coaster ride with all its associated ups and downs, and at some stage even an extreme low in confidence and conviction which could lead to the project itself being dropped or delayed by being set aside till the circumstance or opportunity were to change for the better. This can be a very lonely journey even when one works in a team unless there is a good deal of external representation the various team members would have no access to the designers imagination and therefore would not be able to share in the associated convictions that the design thinker would have generated at any particular stage of the design journey. The impact of the design outcome is compared to the effect of a well managed fire, being beneficial, however if the factors are out of control the results could be a disaster, but the designer would still be responsible for the consequences and this can be quite painful indeed. In the review of the numerous decisions the design journey would involve evaluative thoughts that are reflective in nature and decision making is by judgment and not just by the accumulation of facts and evidence that would be used to justify a particular decision. The compositions that are offered in design are one in many options and there are no correct answers and it is the judgment call of the designer that is valued in most cases although many clients would insist on the use of many systematic decision tools even if they have a limited relevance.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What is Design? What can we know about it and what can we not and why.

Design is neither Art not is it Science. So what is it?

Image: DCC Black Board of class discussion today with students from five PG disciplines at NID
Students are requested to send us an email written in their own words (about 500 to 1000 words max) as a response to the class discussion and their own understanding of the subject. Try and explaon the subject to a 12th standard student and use examples from your own discipline to illustrate any point that needs to be explained.

One of our students from the Bangalore Centre has sent me his views as a blog post and you can see the post on this link below:
Bellare Samir Deep has made the post on his blog "I talk about design! Sad but True.", take a look. Send a copy to Rashmi and to me and if you wish to your faculty as well. Kindly place the words DCC2007 in the subjectline for easy categorisation of your message in my mail box.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chennapatna Toys Revisited as DCC Field Study: Some Reflections

I have posted a detailed reflection on the strategies and intentions of the Chennapatna Toy Design development wotk that was done at NID in 1978. The DCC students visit to Chennapatna as part of their field study in connection with the review of the supply chain of handmade products gave me the opportunity to reflect on the 30 year old design intervention. Design for India story on the Chennapatna Toy design Project can be seen here with links to resources as well as downloadable case study files and papers.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sustainability and Social Equity as a Design Challange in India

Undersdtanding the Known Universe: Assignment on Sustainability and Social Equity as a Design Challange in India

Images: Students sharing the work presentation at the end of assignment one in the DCC course at Bangalore.

The students of NID R & D Centre at Bangalore from the Retail Experience and Digital Experience disciplines were assigned the task of exploring the areas of three key sectors of employment to discover how the supply chain could be strengthened by design approaches to ensure both sustainability as well as social equity across the following sectors:

1. Handmade Products and Handlooms team with their models

2. Farm Fresh Produce team with their models

3. Dairy and Poultry Products team with their models

The groups were asked to brainstorm and then categorise the various dimensions of these sectors so as to capture the known factors and attributes so as to understand the sector as a system which could then be inmproved from the stated goal of achieving both sustainability as well as social equity in the age of rapid globalisation and urbanisation that is sweeping the country today. This understanding was then to be used to develop design opportunities at a leter stage in the Design Concepts and Concerns course at the Bangalore Centre of NID. The two new disciplines at Bangalore are doing this course for the first time and the attempt is also being made to integrate the areas of focus of both groups at the Centre as well as the interersts of the students in each group. Groups were formed by choosing volunterr coordinators and they in turn selected the teams to make these multi-doisciplinary as well as with a gender balance in each group to get the required variety on the teams.

Image: Detail of one of the models by the Fresh Farm Produce Group

Each group made their brainstorming sessions with a lot of passion and committment and then spent a good deal of time in categorising their findings over a period of two days of intense activity. The teams then prepared a structure that made sense to them and based on the agreed structure they developed a rich metaphor to capture all the dimensions of their assigned sectors.

Rashmi, who is in Ahmedabad, shared a wonderful set of links from the Open University in the UK on Systems Modelling and Diagramming and the students have been requested to explore these links to study the theory of modelling and diagramming types through the rich multi-media presentations available at these links below:

What are Spray Diagrams?
What are Rich Pictures
What are Systems Maps?
What are Influence Diagrams
What are Multi-Cause Diagrams
What are Sign Graphs

These are not to be treated as frozen methods to be followed but as a guide to understanding and each experience will show the student their own way forward and give then an ability to make their own models and diagrams which are best suited to their task as well as one that can be achieved within the constraints of the skill sets available to the group with whom they are working.

Image: Teachers explaining the next assignment dealing with meetings with experts as well as strategies for gathering insights from the field.
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