Monday, July 27, 2009

Opportunity Mapping & Visualisation: Water- Storage, Sport & Awareness

Prof M P Ranjan

Design Opportunity Mapping:

All three groups explored their specific areas with numerous thumbnail scenarios, each carried out with deeo dialogue within the team and committed to the format provided. The groups then categorised these design visualisations as thumbnails arranged into the chosen categories and presented all the sketches around a rich visual model that could support and reveal the structure of their offerings.

Individual students had then chosen one of the team concepts and developed this one into a more detailed visualisation of their chosen concept area and these were brought back to the final presentation event in the NID Foyer on Friday evening, the last day of the course for the Paldi Batch this year.

Image01: Group One - Water: Storage and Delivery

Image02: Group Two -Water: Sport and Festivals

Image Group Three - Water: Awareness of Issues and Methods

Prof M P Ranjan

Expert Inputs: Presentation Stage Two

Prof M P Ranjan
All three groups spent the weekend meeting "Experts" relating to their own areas and in twos and threes went to numerous places in the city as well as conducted focussed research to clarify areas that they were not familiar with in the first round of model building.
Images from their presentations are shown below in the following order;

Group 1: Water - Storage and Delivery

Group 2: Water - Sports and Festivals

Group 3: Water - Awareness of Issues & Methods

Image set 01: Group One. Water - Storage and Delivery

Image set 02: Group Two. Water - Sports and Festivals

Image set 03: Group three. Water - Awareness of Issues & Methods

Prof M P Ranjan

Monday, July 20, 2009

Water in DCC: Storage, Sport and Awareness

Water in DCC2009: Storage, Sport and Awareness

Prof M P Ranjan

Water in DCC: Storage, Sport and Awareness: Results of Assignment One – What we already knew as a group – Brainstorming, Discovering Attributes, Articulating Structure of What we Know, Building a Model of What we Think we Know.

Image01: Group One worked on Storage and Delivery issues and perspectives with Water in our lives.

This group had a faint element of structure in their presentation but the form was that of a tree and many parts of the tree were used but most of their efforts were on the leaves and left many opportunities open for interpretation.

Image02: Group Two worked on Sports and Festivals that use Water in a major way and looked at the impact of their activities on water and that of water on the culture of sport.

This group had a well executed and imposing form of a tree (again) with the roots covering the sports and the leaves dealing with the festivals and the axe in between the trunk symbolizing the problems. The structure was polarized into two broad parts leaving scope for improvement in the next round.

Image03: Group Three worked on issues of Awareness and of major issues with water and methods of dealing with them.

This group had a scattered structure since they tried to use colour alone as a organizing principle and their metaphor of a space view with meteorites in motion around a symbolic planet failed to provide a structure that could support a meaningful expression and the form too was weak in showing relationships that the groups was talking about but failed to show in the connections on the model. The next round should show the way. I thought that this group too had a tree – but this time from the top view – I told them so from my point of view.

Image04: The Big Tree at NID as seen from the second floor window by each of the three groups must have influenced their decisions and the models offered above.

All groups had settled for the easy metaphor by using a tree or space without much structure and a good deal of feedback came up in the presentations and discussions from both students as well as the faculty team of Rashmi, Shashank, Sumiran and Ranjan, which I hope has provided a platform for rich learning by doing.

Prof M P Ranjan

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Virtual Water (water footprint)

The production of 1 kilogram of:
- rice requires 3,000 litres of water
- maize requires 900 litres of water
- wheat requires 1,350 litres of water
- beef requires 16,000 litres of water.

Water is essential part of human life, when we are taking about our daily activity. People use lots of water for drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, lifestyle products etc. The water footprint is an indicator of water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint (Virtual water)of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business.

  • The global volume of virtual water flows related to the international trade in commodities is 1,600 Km³/yr. About 80% of these virtual water flows relate to the trade in agricultural products, while the remainder is related to industrial product trade.
  • 140 litres of water are needed to produce 1 cup of coffee while the production of 1 litre of milk requires 1,000 litres of water.
  • Globally, water is saved if agricultural products are traded from regions with high water productivity to those with low water productivity. At present, if importing countries produced all imported agricultural products domestically, they would require 1,600 Km³ of water per year; however, the products are being produced with only 1.200 Km³/yr in the exporting countries, saving global water resources by roughly 400 billion m³/yr.
  • The per capita consumption of virtual water contained in our diets varies according to the type of diet, from 1 m³/day for a survival diet, to 2.6 m³/day for a vegetarian diet and over 5 m³ for a United States style meat based diet.
  • Only about 7% of the Chinese water footprint of 700 m³ per capita per year (m³/cap/yr) falls outside of China, whereas 65% of Japan's total water footprint of 1150 m³/cap/yr is external.
  • The United States appears to have an average water footprint of 2,480 m³/cap/yr, while the global average water footprint is 1,240 m³/cap/yr (US household use of 575 liters. Their large footprint is primarily because of our beef habit - large consumption of meat per capita).

When we are taking about daily usage products. Most of us consume Bottled water specially when we are traveling. Bottled water manufacturers’ encourage the perception that their products are purer and safer than tap water. Bottled water can cost up to 10,000 times more per gallon than tap water. In summary, the manufacture and transport of that one kilogram bottle of Fiji water consumed 26.88 kilograms of water (7.1 gallons) .849 Kilograms of fossil fuel (one litre or .26 gal) and emitted 562 grams of Greenhouse Gases (1.2 pounds).

The growth in bottled water production has increased water extraction in areas near bottling plants, leading to water shortages that affect nearby consumers and farmers. In addition to the millions of gallons of water used in the plastic-making process, two gallons of water are wasted in the purification process for every gallon that goes into the bottles.

Another example: The Coca-Cola company is the largest beverage company in the world, and according to its own admission, the company used 283 billion liters of water in 2004.It is enough water to meet the entire world's drinking needs for 10 days! If we use the water that Coca-Cola used in 2004, we could meet the entire drinking needs of people who don't currently have access to clean drinking water for 47 days!

Coca-Cola's water use ratio in India is 4 to 1 - that is, 75% of the freshwater it extracts is turned into wastewater. The company has indiscriminately discharged its wastewater into the surrounding fields, severely polluting the scarce remaining groundwater as well as soil.

In India Coke’s mining of more than 1 million liters of ground water per day has parched the lands of some 2000 people within 1.2 miles of the factory. The company’s usage of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes has also been questioned by local residents. Due to the indiscriminate mining, the ground water has become contaminated with excessive calcium and magnesium from the dissolution of limestone that is associated with the groundwater deposit. Nearly 100 people have reported recurring stomach aches, which they relate to the brackish and milky white water that they are being forced to drink. Thousands of farmers across India are struggling to make a living because of crop failure as a result of the water shortages created by the Coca-Cola company.

The impacts being felt by the communities who live around Coca-Cola's bottling plants are no small matter. In a country where over 70% of the population still makes a living related to agriculture, taking away the water and poisoning the remaining water and the soil has had dramatic consequences.

When we are taking about design, it is not just an idea; it’s about the execution of an idea. That involves combination of different kinds of logic, psychological considerations, materials... and water or more accurately ‘virtual water’ (virtual water is the amount of water that is embedded in food or other products needed for its production) which is a essential part of any production. Thus, every product has a water footprint. It is estimated that almost a billion people in the world cannot meet even their basic water needs. Nobody thinks about those people while designing or manufacturing products that have huge water footprints associated with them.


Evolution of DCC course at NID

Evolution of DCC course at NID: Looking back in 2009

Prof M P Ranjan

Image01: Models and lectures that were developed over the years for the Design Concepts and Concerns course at NID as they stood in 2005 as they appear in the EAD06 conference presentation at Bremen, Germany.

Meena Kadri wrote about the course on her blog, “Random Specific”, and she sent me a link with a question – “Has not the DCC course evolved at NID over the past 40 years or so?” I sent her a brief note and then decided that the question could be answered at some length and perhaps some design historian or research scholar would be sufficiently interested in looking at the evolution of the pedagogy at NID which I do believe has made significant contribution to design education in India as well as in the world, much of which is as yet not appreciated due to a paucity of published references on the processes and personalities involved.

Image02: Cover and contents page of the Design Issues journal of Autumn 2005 dealing with Design and education in India.

The course as it stands now is documented at this blog site and through a couple of papers that I had written, first in 2002 for the Design Issues magazine at the invitation of Martha Scotford who was compiling a collection of papers about design from India for the Design Issues magazine. However this paper that I submitted called the Avalanche Effect was not included in the final edited version and on Mon, 1 Dec 2003 I received a message from Martha Scotford about the rejection and I was teaching at the BCDI in Agartala at that time and I immediately posted it on the PhD-Design list which can be seen at this link here below: Avalanche Effect on the PhD –Design discussion list.
or here at the TinyURL The Design Issues is a very respected peer reviewed journal from the MIT and the reviewers may have thought that the claims made by the professor from India were a very tall order at that time or found some other shortcoming in my paper based on which it was declined. The journal came out with their volume about India and Indian design and this did not include my paper (“Design Issues: History Theory Criticism” volume 21, Number 4, Autumn 2005) The pdf copy of the “Avalanche Effect” paper can be downloaded from here as a 55kb pdf file.

Image03: Select pages from my presentation titled “Creating the Unknowable” showing the series of Assignments that are offered to NID Foundation students as part of their five week course on Design Concepts and Concerns.

However in the same year, in 2005, my paper titled “Creating the Unknowable: Designing the Future in Education” also about the DCC course was accepted by a peer reviewed conference at Bremen Germany, the EAD06 coordinated by Wolfgang Jonas a design thinker at the Bremen University School of Design and I was able to share the DCC pedagogy and the underlying intentions for the first time on a public forum composed of critical design professors. (Download the full presentation from here as a 54MB zip file containing one pdf of the presentation and six linked movies inside one folder) Unfortunately even here my travel costs would not be supported by NID so I had to bear the cost of travel myself showing how difficult it is to get support for design education in India all these years. This lack of official support is captured in my conference paper for the first National Design Summit in India called the CII-NID Design Summit that was held in Bangalore in December 2001. My paper was titled “Cactus Flower blooms in a Desert: Reflections on Design and Innovation in India”. Download the paper and the visual presentation from here as a 14.5 MB zip file containing three pdf files.

Image04: Thumbnails of OHP sheets used for the DCC course lectures in the late 80’s and early 90’s before the course was changed significantly in 1998.

Yes, to cut a long story short, the course dealing with design theory has been evolving at NID for many many years from the original “Design Methods” that was first taught by Prof Kumar Vyas from the late 60’s and the early 70's for Product Design and then in the Foundation Programme and he was later assisted by Prof S Balaram and Dhimant Panchal. A variation took place when the teachers of this course at NID started looking at processes within design in the 80's and it was then called “Design Process”. A version of the course offered to Product Design students at the AEP Level was called “Product Design Process”. In the mid 70's Mohan Bhandari took over the Foundation programme after his stint of study in Germany and he brought in the Environmental focus and the course was still called Design Process when I took over this course in the late 80's.

Christopher Alexander’s papers and in particular his descriptive pages from his “Notes of the Synthesis of Form” were available at NID as cyclostyled papers in a number of copies which I had seen and I even had a personal copy way back in 1969 when I joined the Institute as a student in the first Post Graduate Programme in Furniture Design. These may have been here of many years before Prof Vyas’s course and Alexander did visit India in the early 60’s as part of his research efforts for his first book that looked at an Indian Village as a source of inspiration for his theory about human settlements and design. The cyclostyled papers could have been an early draft of his book which someone may have collected and shared with all of us in NID, I hope we get to know this background in some detail when the research about NID is conducted in some depth.

Image05: Chart showing the evolution of the Design Methods and Design Process course in the 60’s and 70’s leading up to the formation of the Design Concepts and Concerns course in the 90’s.

In the late 90's I changed the name of the course and called it “Design Concepts and Concerns” to bring focus to the broader issues that underpinned design action and learning. This is a very brief statement on a long and involved process of course evolution at NID at that paper is still to be written. Many teachers worked with me from 1988 onwards. First it was Jatin Bhatt and Sangita Shroff who then went on to join NIFT. We then had Rashmi Korjan for a long time and Suchitra Sheth and Laxmi Murthy for a brief interlude. Since 1998 many teachers audited or assisted in the conduct of the course either partly or full involvement and these include Alaxender Bosniak who now teaches in Germany, Dimple Soni, Meena Kadri, Bhavin Kotari, Harini Chandrasekhar, Bani Singh who teaches at NIFT Bangalore and many more that I will have to recall if the list is to be completed. In Bangalore C S Susanth and Jignesh Khakhar joined the course last year and we also had a senior student helping us last year from the SDM discipline, Anand Saboo and so on.

Image06: Table showing the course structure and contents in 1995 when I had used this image to share the development of the Design Concepts and Concerns course in a presentation to the NID Faculty Forum as part of a course critique at NID in those days.

I have detailed digital pictures of the student assignments done during the course from 1998 onwards and there are many xerox documents in the NID Library from the earlier phase that may need to be revisited. In that early phase we did project based assignments after a phase of lectures about design concepts and methods and these projects were done by individual students and that called for individual guides which we fondly called the OPD (out patient department) and here we had Pradyumna Vyas, Vinod Parmar, S M Shah, P M Choksi, S Balaram and several others as project guides for the foundation students as part of the Design process course from 1988 to about 1998 when I dropped the project since it was becoming a ritual and not really contributing to understanding in the student. From here on the course became more team oriented rather than individual focused and group processes and group grades became the norm.

Shown above are picture of an OHP sheet that I had used in 1995 to describe the process and this is a pdf that gives the shift in content and assignments as it stood in that year which can be downloaded from my website. On 15 August 2007 I had made a post on my other blog “Design for India” about this course and we have another description of the course and its intentions and effects at the link below: Design for India – Post on the DCC course.

Prof M P Ranjan

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

DCC2009: Water in our lives

DCC2009: Water in our lives

Prof. M P Ranjan

The year has started and another year of courses with new students from several PG design disciplines come to this course at NID. The first batch consists of four disciplines on the Paldi campus of NID and these include Product Design, Textile Design, Transportation and Automobile Design and Animation Film Design. The theme for this year is Water. Various facets of water in our lives are to be explored by these students and for the first Paldi batch we have three sub-themes that are listed below.

1. Water: Storage and Delivery
2. Water: Festivals and Sport
3. Water: Awareness of Issues and Methods

Image01: Blackboard with the preliminary discussions on What is Design? Using words offered by the students as part of the class discussion.

The black board shows the early discussions in the class when we tried to assess the current level of knowledge about design amongst the students of the batch and as the dialogue progressed the board filled up with the words that were used by the students to try and share their own notion of design and what they thought it is. Rashmi, Shashank and Ranjan were involved in these discussions by reacting and adding their own dimensions. We asked the students to think deeply about themselves and their lives to try and see when they discovered the idea of design and found it may be a career for each one of them. The discussions led to both sharing as well as an introspective journey that would continue for some time particularly for the students to discover themselves and find out a bit more about their own beliefs and positions in relation to a variety of human subjects, many of which are intangible and not usually a subject of either active analysis or discourse. What do you really believe and what would you do in a particularly difficult situation?

Image02: Group formation and bonding of groups in three sub-groups before the commencement of the formal brainstorming and structure building sessions that follow.

The action to these situations may reveal our deep seated fears and convictions which we may not be aware of at the surface of our consciousness and this would influence all the design decisions that we were to make in our careers ahead, therefore it would be useful to know, if it is at all possible to know all of it, which may not be possible till we are actually confronted with a particular opportunity or situation that would test this belief in some deep way. Ranjan used his slides as well as pages from the internet to share ideas about design and to introduce some of the key thinkers of the day along with their current ideas about design.

Image03: Books discussed this year in class. The students are also primed on the other resources that are available in digital format and on the internet and appropriate links are shown and provided in this session.

The scholars discussed included Dr Harold Nelson and John Heskett for their books “The Design Way” and “Toothpicks and Logos” respectively. Hesket’s book has been released again as a low cost edition in India under a new title called “Design: A very brief introduction” that is available from many book stores as well as online. Also discussed were the new books by Bryan Lawson with Kees Dorst called “Design Expertise” and another book by Dorst called “Understanding Design” and the teachers shared the long list of 175 attributes of design that is included in the contents of the book for students to look up as a direction finder for their own search for understanding of “What is design?”

We have asked the students to reflect on the question once again quite deeply and get back to the teachers with an email response to the question and this could open up the platform for any further dialogue on the new subject. Our finding from the various responses by the students while the black board was being filled up with words associated with design thinking and action was that they individually knew very little and even that knowledge lacked any conviction. So far three students have submitted their email response and we are sure the others will muster courage to make their offerings as the week progresses and they feel up to steam on the discourse on a subject as complex as design

Image04: Class presentations and group discussions in thumbnail views. The class is held in a large studio with flexible furniture arrangements possible with a lot of softboards available for the posters and visual material for the presentations.

We introduced the course by sharing a slide presentation that was made for the EAD06 conference in Bremen, which was a description of this course that was made for the first time by Ranjan since the course was formulated and conducted at NID over the past fifteen or twenty years. This course has indeed evolved from its origins in the “Design Methods” and “Design Process” beginnings in the early 70’s at NID and the name change to “Design Concepts and Concerns” occurred in the late 90’s and from a scientific and environment focus of the 70’s and 80’s the shift that we made to “Concerns” brought an element of relevance and ideology into the core consideration at the centre of this course offering. This is why we started looking at meta themes and we did shift away from micro problems and in the process removed the kindergarden from the basic design course at NID while keeping the quality of flexibility and the non-prescriptive nature of assignments that design education demands. Another major shift was the design assignments being handled by a team rather than being assigned to individual with the specific intention of encouraging team processes and attitude forming that could support such demands top deal with the typical conflicts that design tasks abound.

Image05: The theme and sub-themes of "Water" with a description of the process of discovery by the group to set the assignment rolling.

The structure of the assignments is therefore collaborative and graded through the following intentional stages.
1. Understanding oneself and ones beliefs through deep thought and articulation of the self.
2. Group processes in exploring a meta theme and discovering what one already knew about the topic so that it could be used as a platform for design action.
3. Outward exploration to fill in the gaps in ones knowledge by meeting and connecting with experts and with resources that are available both published and in the environment.
4. Understanding the processes of categorization and modeling leading to the building of external models to share and discuss ones deep understanding of the meat theme in question and to be able to see a structure that could depict the current understanding of the subject which is open to change through the arrival of new insights and new knowledge.
5. Sensing and discovering design opportunities that are worth doing and elaborating all the latent opportunities through a process of visualisation and discourse.
6. Building deep convictions about possible opportunities through a process of visual exploration and sharing with colleagues, while at the same time it is a process of learning to think and learning to act in design with a future focus on potential and optimistic outcomes.

To discuss this and other aspects of becoming a designer Ranjan talked about the “Design Journey” using the model and a copy of the paper that describes the various modes of thought that the designer had to use and this brought us to the first assignment and the forming of three teams with tasks as listed above. The presentation is expected on Thursday morning and each group woud be given one hour to make their presentation having explored the sub-theme fully through the process of brainstorming and categorization followed by forming structure and giving form in the shape of a suitable metaphor for durable recognition of the theme and its organization that would be reflected in the structure. The students have now started working on the task of finding structure and form of their sub-theme areas through the process that we described above. The group work is intensive through ice-breaking conversations, brainstorming and collaboration, categorization and arguments, finding structure and agreement with some compromises and last of all finding form through a shared metaphor that could show the level of understanding the the group has arrived at through this active process, a real learning by doing. We look forward to the presentations and the deep learning that can be used for future design projects as well.

Prof. M P Ranjan

What is Design?......

(truthbeauty - image from cartoons drawn on the back of business cards)

Over the years I have been collecting descriptions of design from various sources and I thought it may be interesting to bring them out and look at them together.
To begin with there are these insights from Ranjan, these are from my notes taken during many design concepts and concerns classes.

Design is a specification creating process not a specification following process.
(DCC 2002)

Design is like a sponge absorbing from all fields, unlike the others design is looking at questions which do not have one answer.
(DCC 2002)

Design is a resolution of complex variables.
(DCC 2003)

Design is a process of visualising models which express complexity.
(DCC 2003)

Design is a reflexive situation. You are part of the context and you also impose yourself on the context.
(DCC 2004)

Then there are these form various design thinkers. I noted these when I found them to be a fine articulation of an idea or one that uncovers a new aspect of design, unfortunately I have not noted the sources and dates which i can see now would have been very useful.

“Designing is not a profession……it is the organization of materials and processes in the most productive way” Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

The area of human experience, skill, and understanding that reflicts man's concern with the enhancement of order, utility, value and meaning in his habitat. Bruce Archer

We are searching for some kind of harmony between two intangibles: a form which we have not yet designed and a context which we cannot properly describe.
Christopher Alexander

"the future job of a designer is to give substance to new ideas while taking away the physical and organizational foundations of old ones. In this situation, it is nonsense to think of designing as the satisfaction of existing requirements. New needs grow and old needs decay . . ."
John Chris Jones

Every human being is a designer.Many also earn their living by design - in every field that warrants pause, and careful consideration, between conceiving of an action and a fashioning of a means to carry it out, and an estimation of its effects.
Norman Potter

‘All men are designers’ where ‘design is the conscious effort to impose meaningful order’ (Papanek, 1972)

"Design is an expression of purpose. It may (if it is good enough) later be judged as art."
Charles Eames' famous response to that question in 1972, during an interview with Madame L'Amic of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris

"Design is the human power to conceive, plan, and realize products that serve human beings in the accomplishment of any individual or collective purpose."
Dick Buchanan

design is creatively extending, elaborating, questioning, and overcoming
existing conceptions in view of the future realities they promote for others
to live in.
---Klaus Krippendorf

We should not underestimate the crucial importance of leadership and design joining forces. Our global future depends on it. We will either design our way through the deadly challenges of this century, or we won't make it. For our institutions - in truth, for our civilization - to survive and prosper, we must solve extremely complex problems and cope with many bewildering dilemmas. We cannot assume that, following our present path, we will simply evolve toward a better world. But we can design that better world. That is why designers need to become leaders, and why leaders need to become designers.
---Richard Farson (noise between stations on design thinking)

In the end, design is about shaping a context, rather than taking it as it is. When it comes to design, success arises not by emulating others, but by using organizational assets and integrative thinking to identify, build on, and leverage asymmetries, evolving unique models, products and experiences -- in short, creative business solutions.
----Roger Martin

Design is a tradition of inquiry and action that predates any of the other traditions. It is the essential competence that identifies us as humans and makes it possible for us to act with intention. Design is the means by which humans continue to participate in the ongoing genesis of the real world. Through our innate capacity to design, we have created our cosmologies, cultures, and technologies. Design is a distinct form of inquiry: not a midpoint on a continuum between art and science, or one of the end points-design is neither applied art, nor science.
---Harold Nelson

We differentiate design from art and science by the concept of service. Design is defined as service on behalf of someone else-a contractual relationship. Artists and scientists engage in forms of service legitimately focused more on their own interests. Artists express their emotions and feelings; scientists express their curiosity about the world. Designers, however, serve the needs and desires of others. This does not mean that designers are not aesthetic or rational, they are both, but most importantly they are empathic.
---Harold Nelson

Designers are participants in the lives of others -- Jan Kuypers

Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.
Paola Antonelli

In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It's the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.
Steve Jobs, Founder and CEO, Apple

About a year ago on phd design there was a thread on definitions of design in which one of the participants (Paul Osmond) shared this simple yet profound little gem from Ezio Manzini -

"Design is a process of structuring relationships".
It is my current favorite till another one comes along.
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