Sunday, July 19, 2009

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


Ramprakash said...

awesome! :) way to go. really miss the dcc course, will try to visit and sit for the class next year

Amrapali said...

Looking forward to seeing you in Bangalore to introduce this wonder-some experience called DCC on the newbies here..... :)

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