I was invited this week, by a private university in Gurgaon, to address their Engineering faculty and students on the subject of ‘Design & Innovation’. Another opportunity I quickly utilised, to spread the message of design.
India’s design-aware population is really small. Considering the fact that a few hundred designers graduate and set out into the profession, to cater to a billion-plus population, you get an idea about how difficult it is to make inroads and make a difference by design. Early on in my career, I understood the need for creating design awareness amongst potential industries which I thought can be converted to buy design services. Whenever and wherever, an opportunity presented itself, I utilsed it to educate potential clients.
NID, my alma mater, had taken this role of design evangelism, quite seriously. The senior faculty were educating people on design inside the campus and outside. I caught the bug, too and has been one of the foot soldiers that contributed to this movement.
This habit has helped me personally and professionally.
It helped me in my role as a design educator. It also helped in creating a huge, design-aware, constituency.
While this constituency is growing, a lot of evangelism is visible and effective in India, today. In new formats as well. A book on design was recently launched in Delhi’s Max Muelller Bhavan, called : DEKHO. It presented work done by a few professional designers in India. What is delightful is that this is a private initiative by a design company, CODESIGN that decided to spread the good word on design. The design firm is quite involved about its role as a design evangelist. Besides the book, they also organise a quaint design event called the UNBOX festival, that is fast gaining international attention. Rajesh & Mohor Dahiya, the designers who run CODESIGN, are graduates of NID and are quite fired up about the cause of design.
If festivals are the way to promote the cause of design then, the private initiative of Transasia Papers’ Rajesh Kejriwal deserves mention for their annual design festival : Kyoorius Design Yatra. Held every year in picturesque Goa, in India, this festival brings the Indian and international speakers to an eager audience and sells the idea of good graphic design to design firms and design users. It is also hugely popular with the student designers.
Another altruistic effort in showcasing Indian design to a global audience is Ruchita Madhok’s blog : Perch. Along with Aditya Palsule, they have created a blog that not only feature design events and projects, they also critique Indian design, the way no one ever does. The blog has managed to catch the attention of the design community, in India and abroad.
But in the forefront of blogging on design is M P Ranjan. A design thinker and a much-respected designer by his peers and students the world over, his blog not only documents design events in India, it is almost always the first stop for a global audience that is keen to understand the Indian design story. He takes his role of a design educator so seriously, that he does not miss any opportunity to educate. Ranjan’s writings manages to inspire designers of all hues and promotes the message of Indian design to all cocerned.
THis post will not be complete without mentioning Sudhir Sharma. He is one person who has managed to promote the cause of Indian design, almost single-handedly. Sudhir Sharma is an alumnus of NID who has grabbed every opportunity to promote design in national and international forums. He also set up POOL magazine that celebrates Indian design in all its myriad forms. The magazine is fast becoming the repertoire for Indian design efforts.
These are people I am aware of. There must be many more who do their bit of evangelisation. Speaking to school students, speaking to industry associations, addressing special interest groups and influencing them. There is also an urgent need for more designers to join this movement.
When there is a constituency that is aware about design, the whole society benefits from the merits of good design.