India Design Summit Takeaways | 20-21 Sep 2019

As a member of the National Committee of Design, CII, I had the privilege of attending the amazing India Design Summit this weekend in Goa – 20/21 Sep 2019. It was packed with amazing talks with some qualifying as absolute gems. Below is a short capture of the highlights of the 2 days.

Prof Pradyumna Vyas set the context for theme of the event – “Designing for Social Sector” and the need for designers to move beyond commercial considerations and influence their organisations to embrace social enterprises. Jaakko Waananen, CEO of Hellon, Finland, the “most awarded Service Design company in the world” spoke of the amazing projects and work they are engaged in. 

It was absolutely delightful to hear Avinash Kumar of Quicksand Design Studio and their work on Speculative Design. Their philosophy of Insights, Storytelling and Art combines to produce some great work of speculative design (www.quicksand.co.in). In fact I was pleasantly surprised to see Speculative Design being discussed so extensively in this conference. Pearl Academy’s Agat Sharma also conducted a workshop on Speculative Multispecies Entaglement drawing from his studies on micro organisms and their role in the human futures exploration. Barely less than an year ago, Speculative Design was a very rare entity but looks like its rapidly catching up. 

The jury led by Hrridaysh Deshpande conferred the Design Excellence awards for a variety of design work going on in India. Then came the panel discussion on the topic “Designing for Inclusion in the digital world” that included Prabuddha Vyas, MD of UniKwan Innovations, Hari Nallan, head of Think Design, Tanmay Modi, CEO, Synapse and Screen Root and Prof Panduranga Rao of Altair. Panduranga Rao spoke of the challenges in Product Design. “People love and take care of their own car whereas in this shared economy, people don’t have an emotional attachment with the car itself – so what is the emotional value you design for?” he asked. Tanmay Modi spoke of “Inclusion in Marketing which is paradoxical given that Marketing is an exclusive concept (it excludes people who don’t have money)”. The panel explored various challenges and possible ideas to make digital more inclusive including for senior citizens and children and rural and urban.

And it was quite amazing to hear the philosophy and the idea behind the Anant National University, the “Design Only University”. Their focus on embracing sustainability within the campus is inspiring. Dr. Neethi Bose spoke of the School of Design established by the Bangalore based Presidency University. It was doubly sweet for me because I am a student of the Presidency School (erstwhile St. Pauls) and its great to see where my school has now reached. It was a “full circle” moment for me. 

What was remarkable in this conference was the active participation of the Government. The Governor of Goa’s keynote the second day was on everyone’s lips long after her speech. And the highlight of it all was the Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant who announced that a new Design Institute will be set up in Goa. 

Overall, its heartening to see the quality of

design work as well as design conversation

happening in India and it’s time to claim our

rightful spot in the World Design Landscape. 

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