India’s Design Guru

MP Ranjan, the iconic design teacher, blogger, and a true-blue, friend, philosopher and guide, passed away this morning. What a huge loss for the Design community. He was the ultimate patron and believer in the power of design.

Personally, he introduced me to precision drawing, wearing bright red shirts, reading on design, respecting the individual, educating on design and blogging on design.
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Pic Courtesy: DFC India

Every conversation, one had with him, left you inspired and richer with knowledge. He believed in communication. During a conversation at NID, he told me, ” You write, well. You should keep at it.” I owe my design writing to him.

When he knew I had an exhibition at the India Habitat Centre, in 2002, of my work done in Nagaland, he made it a point to come and see it. He was not one to wait for personal invitations. He shot copious pictures of the show, in his newly acquired digital camera. While he was doing so, he lamented the lack of design sensibilities of the CII people organising a design seminar that year. Just then, a lady from the office of CII came over to see my exhibition. Ranjan saw an opportunity to accost her with the bad design of the design summit brochure and explain to her that this was not acceptable. The lady left in haste. I turned around and asked him, why he had to bother someone so obviously junior. He said, ” Never lose an opportunity to either learn or educate.” The thought stuck with me and I practise it till today.

Once, in 2000, I was working on a bamboo project and decided to buy copy of his famous book for myself. I was surprised to meet him as I came out of the shop, holding the book. I immediately stuck the book in his hand and said, ” Ranjan, Please sign this for me!” It was his turn to get surprised. Smiling away, he wrote: “For Bala, With warm wishes and I hope to see YOUR book soon!” I am yet to write that book, but I know that he saw potential in me, fifteen years ago!

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His networking abilities was always fascinating. He was the ‘ Connector”. I met a lot of young and inspiring design people through him. He would make it a point to connect people of similar interests. I learnt this from him.

His ability to be at ease with rudimentary bamboo technology as well as intricate information technology, always fascinated me. He managed to connect the dots with aplomb. He was comfortable straddling crafts and tech projects with amazing grace. I was influenced by this in my work.

He had a great respect for individuals. He had a lot of friends of all ages and enjoyed his time with each and everyone. He would credit everyone, however, big and small, with the contributions done and would go into great lengths to give the devil it’s due.

He was the biggest critic, I know. Never one to mince words, he would call a spade a spade and wouldn’t hesitate to be unpopular for the same. My impatience with bad design and my inability to suffer fools, found a resonance in this.

Finally, he was a big follower of this blog. He would write crisp comments, make Facebook recommendations and invite everyone in his contact list to read this blog. I owe him a lot for this.

And I am pained to see that this post will not be read by him.

Farewell, Ranjan. You may be gone, but you will continue to inspire.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Hello sir,
    I am a designing student, and never heard of M.P Ranjan sir.
    I came here through few posts of the contacts i have in NID, and apparently i am sad.
    I am sad that i never heard such great figure and would never be able to meet him.
    It would be great if you could provide me any info about him or Books i can buy written by him.
    Would be great.
    P.S – May his soul rest in peace.
    Regards
    Gaurang

    Reply

  2. Dear Mr. Balasubramanium,

    Thank you for the ‘Obituary’ on Prof. MP Ranjan. Although I could never meet him in person & network with him, (…despite some common interests of mine, a similar design lineage & some close calls to get in touch with him in Seminars / Design Talks).

    Reading your blog on him, made me feel that… somehow we are all connected.

    Your post also got me to know some aspects on Prof. Ranjan & therefore… brought me some sense of closure.

    His passing is a huge loss for the Design Community, (especially those interested in Indian Craft Design).

    Yes, there will not be more posts from him on his Blog, but we will all look & relook his commentary on the Indian Design Scenario for generations to come.

    Reply

  3. Ranjan is gone. It makes everyone extremely sad. A great teacher. Avid reader. A man with full of energy and enthusiasm. He was thunder and fire behind the microphone. A master of verbal communication. Your well written obituary revives lots of memories.

    vijayan

    Reply

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