Sunday, September 9, 2007

Intellectual History of Design: Lecture at IDC, IIT Bombay

Image: The "Big Tree" in the courtyard on the "Design Street" at the "Gautam-Gira Square" outside my office at NID – as it was when I joined as a student in 1969 and on 7 September 2007 before my departure to Mumbai for the lecture at IDC.

The invitation to speak to the students at the IDC Mumbai gave me the opportunity to reflect on the various influences that have shaped design in the last century. Reading the very limited published resources that are available on design history and particularly on the development of the peragogies and inetllectual positions I see a few threads that have had a strong influence on design thinking, especially from the Indian perspective and from our vantage at NID, Ahmedabad. This is a personal view and included a reflection of my own personal experiences since the early 1969 when I joined NID as a student in the Post Graduate programme in Furniture Design. The early years of NID were those of excitement and learning for me and having had the opportunity to meet and work with some of the key players in the history of modern design this personal view may provide some fresh insights into the establishment of design in India and the flow of ideas and influences that shaped NID and the other schools of design in India and other parts of the world in the past century.

In my paper “Lessons from Bauhaus, Ulm and NID: Role of Basic Design in PG Education”, (download pdf 69kb)that was presented at the DETM Conference held at NID in March 2005, I had explored the threads of influences and now I have been able to revisit the space and further expand on the developments. I the meantime I have had access to some new books on the Bauhaus as well as the HfG Ulm and the benefit of visits to HfG Ulm in 2005 and the ID IIT Chicago in 2006 which gave further links to the chain of information and insights that I was actively seeking to further my understanding of design in India. In 2005 I also visited Bremen, Germany for the EAD06 conference and my paper (download 255kb .doc file) presented there too looked at design education at NID and for the first time I made a public international presentation of the Design Concepts and Concerns course that I had developed at NID since I started teaching Design Methods in 1986. My visit in 2004 to the UK and my brief but stimulating meeting with John Chris Jones at The British Library and later a visit to the Royal College of Art in London gave me another occation to reflect on the developments of design thinking and action in the West. I will reflect on some of these occasions and what I learned from these journeys in the days ahead as lecture and talking opportunities come up that call for such sharing.

John Chris Jones and Bruce Archer had both been asociated with the RCA in the 60’s and through to the late 90’s as active researchers and teachers in various capacities during this period. In 2004 they were both honoured by the Design Research Society, London for their Lifetime Achievements in the field. Bruce Archer had also lectured at the HfG Ulm and so had Charles and Ray Eames and R Buckminister Fuller just as the same teachers had been visiting faculty at NID, Ahmedabad and the parallels are interesting and need to be explored fuirther to glean the kind of influences that they have left behind. Frei Otto, Hans Gugelot, Christian Staub, Herbert Lindinger, Herbert Ohl, Gui Bonsiepe, Kohei Sugiura and others who will be identified as my research progresses.

Image: Last slide in my IDC presentation

This post was drafted at the IIT Guest House this morning and uploaded in the presence of Kirti Trivedi and Raja Mohanty who had invited me to IDC this time. Kirti Trivedi had conducted a conference at IDC in 1989, "Design Education: Ulm and After" when he had released an edited volume titled "Readings from Ulm" which were based on a xerox copy of the originial set of the Ulm Journal 1 to 21 which has been a great source of inspiration and is still in the NID Library. I had helped prepare the copy for the IDC Library a few years earlier. This informal Sunday morning meeting was a good occasion to reflect on the experiences at the school and on areas of mutual interest, which is design and design philosophy with an Indian flavour.

1 comment:

  1. Hi sir;

    My name is Sachin Ghodke and I am studying at IDC for interaction design (1st yr.).
    On 8th September; I got an opportunity to listen your lecture. And it was really amazing time for me. And I really like your lecture.

    Especially when you said that there is always chance and opportunity to develop the design by finding what we have rather than what you don’t have…!
    And the point you were making that….every designer has to understand and work according that they are here to make the history…whatever they do must become history….and that’s amazing feeling ….the power of design…..! And I understand that what should be the level of quality designer must maintain…..

    Hope that I will get opportunity to meet you and listen to your lecture in future…!

    thank you!


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