Thursday, November 27, 2008

Design Policy for USA: Long Ripples from India

Big strides towards a Design Policy for USA: Long Ripples from India

M P Ranjan

Image: Screen shot from Dori’s Moblog showing her with the members of the National Design Policy Summit held in USA

This is a long story that for me hinges around the Indian National Design Policy that was set in motion by the Government of India on 8th February 2007. I was in the USA that very day at the Asia Society in New York that day with NID Graduates Uday Dandavate of Sonic Rim, Surya Vanka of Microsoft and Sudhir Sharma of Elephant Design to promote the “Design with India” initiatives in the USA and in India that started with the plans for the CII NID National Design Summit in 2006. We had traveled to the USA to help bring attention to Design with India and for the promotion of deep partnerships between designers, industry and policy makers that could make design a central capability that would be put to use in solving the many development issues that face India today.

Uday had earlier invited me to speak at the IDSA Conference in Austin in September 2006 where I first met Elizabeth Tunstall – Dori – with her Mac connected to her blog live from the conference. My presentation at the IDSA Conference (pdf file 812 kb) was titled “Giving Design back to Society: Towards a Post-Mining Economy”. Dori commented on my paper (pdf file 42 kb) that day and we have been in touch since then on a new discussion list that she set up called the Design Policy List on Yahoogroups, now with many members.

Elizabeth Tunstall, is better known as Dori to friends and for those who read her blog, Doris Moblog. I did a search on her blog and her first post on Design Policy is on 11 February 2007 where she talks about the Indian National Design Policy after online conversation with me. Diori has been very active since then in organizing and mobilizing designers and design researchers around the world to develop strategies and approaches to bring design policy to nations that need to understand the significance of design as a social and development tool and not just a handmaiden of industry in the search of innovation and profits. The following links show her series of posts on “Dori;s Moblog”, that tell the story more fully
February 11, 2007: Indian National Design Policy
April 20, 2007: Shortlisted for IFG Ulm designing politics programme
April 30, 2007: Mapping Design Policy Landscape
May 06, 2007: Designers designing public policy
June 04, 2007: Two reasons for the failure of design policy
August 12, 2007: Clearview typeface: case study in design policy
September 21, 2007: Results from Ulm
January 30, 2008: Deaf Culture and Expressive Captions for TV and Film
March 16, 2008: Design Policy and CCBHS final presentations
July 29, 2008: Is AIGA a labor union?
and finally the latest post that tells us about the status in the USA after the Summit organized by Dori with design leaders in the USA.
November 20, 2008: U.S. National Design Policy Summit
Her latest mail to the Design Policy List is quoted below in full for immediate reference. We look forward to further developments on the USA and the ripples will most certainly come all the way back to India and help strengthen our own Design Policy initiatives here in India.
Quote from Dori’s ,message to the Design Policy List on 24th November 2008
Hello DP group,

So we pulled it off, the US National Design Policy Summit. Here is the official release, but I am very excited about the next steps, including the finishing the report. It was really cool to have this happen after the Obama election victory. It think it created an opening for participants to be focused more on the future and collaboration, two elements that were necessary for the Summit’s success. There is a lot a work that needs to be done, but it will be thrilling to do the work.




Leaders representing the major U.S. professional design organizations, design education accreditation organizations, and Federal government design assembled in Washington D.C. on November 11-12 to develop a blueprint for a U.S. national design policy.

United by a shared vision of design’s integral role in the U.S.’s economic competitiveness and democratic governance, the Summit generated over 250 proposals for how the design communities and the U.S. government can work together to drive:

- innovation that supports American entrepreneurial spirit and economic vitality,

- better performance in government communications and effectiveness, 

- sustainable practices for communities and the environment, and

- design thinking that advances the educational goals of all areas of knowledge.

Summit participants ranked proposals by their value to the American people and the design communities as well as their operational and political feasibility. Brad McConnell, economic adviser in the Office of Senator Dick Durbin, assisted the group in determining political feasibility. The Summit concluded with the proposal of several immediate action steps for developing a U.S. national design policy:

1. Re-establish the American Design Council to serve as a unified body representing all the U.S. design fields

2. Create a report of the Summit and its proposals as the first publication of the American Design Council

3. Seek funding for a report on the contribution of the design industries to the U.S. economy

4. Encourage and support the National Endowment for the Art’s proposing of a U.S. National Design Assembly in 2010 and Federal Design Improvement Program in 2011

5. Develop case studies from each design field that demonstrates the economic, social, and environmental value of design

6. Engage design industry CEOs to provide testimonials of the value of design

7. Propose a holistic design award that will represent the highest honor in American design.
Organized by Dr. Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall, Associate Professor of Design Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the U.S. National Design Summit participants included:

From Professional Design Organizations

- Richard Grefé, Executive Director of AIGA
- Paul Mendelsohn, Vice President, Government and Community Relations, American Institute of Architects

- Leslie Gallery Dilworth, Executive Director, Society for Environmental Graphic Design

- Deanna Waldron, Director of Government and Public Affairs, American Society of Interior Designers

- Earl Powell, Lifelong Fellow, Design Management Institute

- Frank Tyneski, Executive Director, Industrial Designers Society of America

- Allison Levy, Managing Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs, International Interior Design Association

- Paul Sherman, President, Usability Professionals Association

From Design Education Accreditation Bodies

- Catherine Armour, National Board Member, Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design

- Holly Mattson, Executive Director, Council for Interior Design Accreditation

- Samuel Hope, Executive Director, National Association for Schools of Art and Design

From U.S. Federal Government

- Clark Wilson, Sr. Urban Designer/Environmental Protection Specialist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

- Frank Giblin, Director Urban Development Program, U.S. General Services Administration

- Janice Sterling, Director of Creative Services, U.S. Government Printing Office

- Ronald Keeney, Assistant Director of Creative Services, U.S. Government Printing Office

Summit Facilitators

- Renata Graw, Principal Plural, University of Illinois at Chicago MFA 2008

- Siobhan Gregory, MFA student in Industrial Design at University of Illinois at Chicago 

- Alicia Kuri Alamillo, MFA student in Graphic Design at University of Illinois at Chicago

- Matthew Muñoz, Principal Design Heals, North Carolina State University MFA 2008

- Sean Burgess, IDSA
- Tim Adkins, IDSA”

I too have made a number of posts about the Design Policy issues for India and these links include 11 posts at the advocacy level and 24 posts that contain comments linked to the National Design Policy that I have made over the past one year.

M P Ranjan

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Charles Eames Centenary: Photo Exhibit at NID

"The Gifted Eye of Charles Eames"
: A Portfolio of 100 images
M P Ranjan

Image: Collage of Eames images from previous posts on this blog and some from the net about the Eames legacy in photography.

Herman Miller, USA and National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad are sponsoring an exhibition of 100 images by Charles and Ray Eames assembled by the Eames Office from their vast archive to celebrate the centenary of Charles Eames. For NID this is a significant time as well soince it is the Golden Jubilee of the writing of the classic Eames India Report based on which the NID was set up in Ahmedabad way back in 1961.

I will come back with details of the making of this exhibition and the story behind the picture after the exhibit opens at NID on the 20th November 2008.

Eames Demetrios, the grandson of Charles and Ray Eames and the chairman of Eames office, will be there to show us the philosophy of the Eameses at a lecture at the NID Auditorium at 10 am on the 20th November 2008.

The exhibition will be open to the public from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm each day from the 20st to 30th November 2008 at the NID Design Gallery.

M P Ranjan

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sustainability Charette: World Economic Forum in New Delhi

India Economic Summit, New Delhi as a venue for the First Sustainability Charette of the World Economic Forum.
Prof. M P Ranjan

Image 01: NID designers Anand Saboo, Vishnu Priya, M P Ranjan, Praveen Nahar, Shreya Sarda and Mitushi Jain at the India Economic Summit’s Design Charette with world industry and expert participants across six groups that examined and developed innovative concepts and frameworks for sustainable futures leading to design opportunity offerings for many sectors of the consumer industry.

The World Economic Forum made a call earlier this year for collective action to manage Sustainability for Tomorrow’s Consumers Initiative. A series of steps were hence initiated to lead up to a CEO Report to be taken up at the Davos Governors Meeting on 29th January 2009. The first steps included the New York strategy meet, which kicked off the search for directions and solutions to the worlds pressing problem of bringing sustainability to its Consumer Initiatives. The WEF developed a three-stage framework to tackle the issues and these are listed below:
1. The Business Case for Sustainability.
2. Design Innovations for Sustainability
3. Shaping the Framework Conditions.
For the first time the WEF turned to designers in India and this brought them to NID, one of India’s leading design schools, to participate in the proposed Design Charette in New Delhi with students and faculty involvement along with a carefully selected group of lead industries and experts in sustainability to examine the issues and perspectives across several consumer industries in order to innovate and build prototypes and models for future sustainable practices and products and services.

Image 02: Participants at the hands on Design Charette set up by the World Economic Forum team with Deloitte consulting at Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi on 15th November 2008.

The six groups looked at six broad product categories from the future sustainability angle to examine resource constraints, regulatory and policy implications as well as possible design opportunities that the situation offered to take stock of the current and future trends and make sensitive offerings at business process, product design and behavior change levels that may need to be addressed by businesses as well as governments of the world. The charette was a stimulating learning setting for all participants and it brought together designers from industry, social entrepreneurs, economists and experts all looking at the multi-dimensional problem of sustainability using systems thinking. I am pleased that we were involved in the first such event in New Delhi and we do hope that design will now be brought into the centre of our global search for solutions and through these we will build a sustainable future for all. The World Economic Forum’s initiatives are here at their website and I am sure more will follow as the work done in New Delhi grows to become a movement for the use of design across many geographies and sectors that are in search for sustainable models for the future.

Image 03: Three Social Entrepreneurs shortlisted for the final award of 2008 making a presentation of their innovation concept and action on the ground. Rajat Gupta delivered the keynote lecture at the event.

The evening event shifted to the Hotel Imperial on Janpath where the celebrations were on to felicitate the three finalists for the “Social Entrepreneur of the Year India 2008”. The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship was started by the founder of The World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab in 2000 and since then the process has identified and felicitated over 150 social entrepreneurs in 40 countries. A significant achievement by any standard.

I hope that they will some time discover designers who have been working in the grassroots sector in India and elsewhere in the years ahead. I remember the group of girls in my DCC class of 2001, who were telling us that they had discovered the way to eliminate poverty using start-up entrepreneurship and they called it the “Baadal” strategy, named after the Indian Monsoon, which picks up good practices from all over India and rains it back over the population just as the monsoon does. They have been working at it for a few years now, in refining their concept and in building their own individual capabilities across many attributes that are needed to deliver the action on the ground and I am sure that in a few more years they would deliver what they had held out as a concept to all of us at NID during their concept presentation to the public which we called the “Concept Mela”. We need more such concept melas and more designers joining the action on the ground in the days and years ahead. These Design Charettes do much the same thing with the participants, small attitude change which would lead to the big sustainable actions in areas where they work and live in the years ahead through design and leadership that they would provide to those around them.

Prof. M P Ranjan

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Raindrops and Footprints: Crafts Ecology in the Making

Raindrops and Footprints: Crafts Ecology in the Making at the IICD Jaipur

M P Ranjan

Image 1: Micro view of the poverty alleviation strategy called “Raindrops Strategy” to use crafts as a vehicle for local empowerment and occupation building with design strategies and innovation as drivers of a new economy.

IICD students and faculty would scour the country looking for pockets and clusters of crafts activities that are part of their field research and study programmes. Durning these forays into the field they would naturally come into contact with individuals and groups that are attempting to use crafts in a development situation. Some of these would be pre-existing NGO’s or crafts entrepreneurs wjhile others may be children of local craftsmen looking for life employment opportunituies for themselves going forward. This model is based on a previous post on Design for India on 2 April 2008 called “Poverty and Design Explored: Context India.”

IICD’s new incubatee programme coiuld adopt these groups and individuals for a sustained programme of contact and faciloitation in the field as well at the back end at the Institute as part of the Crafts Incubatee programme that may be funded and supported by a consortium of supporters, venture capital funds as well as Government Grants in Aid programmes. Learning from the field and giving back to the field is the proposed model for sensitive action using design sensibilities and innovation strategoies which will help build credible models for action and tested strategies for going forward with larger investments from the support basket. At each stage of this proposed ten stage model the IICD teams and their partners in the field would create intermediate products such as feasibility reports, crafts documentations, resource maps, opportunity maps and new prototypes and strategies for future action. These would be evaluated and rolled out under various schemes for support in the field as well as crafts and entrepreneurship training programmes. This programme will work in tandem with the existing Crafts Design, Technology and Management education programmes of the Institute. These individual forays are here called the “Raindrops” since the intention is to drop these into existing crafts clusters and allow these to grow as ripplies in the fertile ponds of our land.

Image 2: Macro view of the empowerment strategy that could be used by the IICD to reach its growing knowledge and the human resources called the Agents of Change to various crafts clusters across India through a strategy called “Footprints in Time” as shown in the model above.

The micro model called “Raindrops” can be replicated through an active support programme of incubation by the replication of the strategy across multiple locations and crafts clusters across India. This would be based on a growing resource that would leverage the crrent and future programmes of the institute as well as support the proposed programme for crafts incubation which would have a field front end as well as an institute based back-end programme of a specific duration. Using Web 2.0 strategies the IICD could build a community of designers, experts, partners and wellwishers with the crafts incubates to make an interactive support platform that willl grow and divesrisy over time. This process of maturation and growth is what I would call the “Feetprints in Time” model for the IICD action in the field support for the crafts incubatee. This concept has been expaned in a previous post on this blog on 3 November 2008 called “Footprints in Time: A Crafts Ecology for India" and another post on 18 October called “Mission and Vision: Crafts Ecology for IICD Jaipur”. These would set the stage to herald the arrival of the Creative Economy across the villages of India and help them face the intense influences of globalisation with the use of sustained local creative action.

M P Ranjan

Monday, November 3, 2008

Footprints in Time: A Crafts Ecology for India

Footprints in Time: A Crafts Ecology for India

M P Ranjan: A Propsal for the IICD, Jaipur as part of their Vision & Mission explorations.

Image 1: Systems model for the proposed Crafts Ecology for India as part of the IICD, Jaipur’s Mission and Vision articulation in 2008.

Further to my post titled “Mission and Vision : Crafts Ecology for IICD Jaipur” that was shared with our colleagues at the IICD, Jaipur on 18 October 2008 I have had some time to ponder and expand the ideas expressed in the model that I call a Crafts Ecology for India. We hope that the activities at the Institute and the collective actions of the Institute and its partners and stakeholders along with the wider collective of crafts persons, incubates and entrepreneurs all working in concert with the enablers and providers would achieve a sustainable local action in each chosen area and make a real impact over time. This model needs to be elaborated and designed in its finer details as we go forward and invest time and resources to make it happen. We invite those convinced to join the team at IICD, Jaipur and help realize these potentials, which we do believe are real and palpable.

Image 2: The 5 principles of Design led action

I came across a remarkable paper by Bruno Latour, the French Sociologist, titled “A Cautius Prometheus?” *full title given below. And I was mighty impressed and I purchased all his books from Amazon, I now have t read them, but the insights that he brings about design at the broader level I have not seen these held by many designers nor design professors, and we have much to still learn about design. The full paper is available as a pdf file 152 kb size from here. More about Bruno Latour from wiki here.

A Cautious Prometheus? A Few Steps Towards a Philosophy of Design (with Special Attention to Peter Sloterdijk) Keynote lecture for the Networks of Design meeting of the Design History Society Falmouth, Cornwall, 3 September 2008 by Bruno Latour. download pdf 152 kb.

M P Ranjan

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Art Book Centre: Launches “Handmade in India” in Ahmedabad

Art Book Centre: Delivers “Handmade in India” in Ahmedabad

M P Ranjan

Image 1: The Art Book Centre at Madalpur village in Ahmedabad and its founder at the balcony with book jackets and artworks on display.

A quaint and endearing bookstore in Ahmedabad has more titles of books about Indian textiles, art and design than most places that I have seen in India. Located at Madalpur village in the heart of Ahmedabad city in the Ellis Bridge area, it is a specialized bookstore run by a dedicated father and son team who perhaps know more about what has been written about Indian textiles and handicrafts than most scholars of the subject, and this is due to their commitment to locate and collect all available books in their field, old and new, and make them available to those who seek knowledge about Indian textiles, art and handicicrafts. Shri Manohar Patel, founder of the Art Book Centre and his son Shri Ketan Patel are seen at all book exhibitions dealing with art and design books and their first floor bookstore is a feast for the hungry book lovers looking for the subject of Indian art, textiles and handictafts. Accessed through a steep and narrow stairway, their first floor shop is decorated with colourful graphics, Torans (traditional Gujarati buntings) and book jackets from a wide range of publishers, with Mapin taking the lion’s share of shelf space.

Image 2: Aditi Ranjan signing few copies of Handmade at the Art Book Centre with Manohar and Ketan in their shop.

It is therefore no surprise that they were the first to carry stocks of “Handmade in India” and reach them to NID, the local libraries as well as NID faculty and students who have gobbled up the first batch of 100 books that reached them last week. Shri Manohar Patel tells me that he is picking up the next consignment of 100 books later this week, immediately after the long Diwali holidays get over in Ahmedabad. Aditi and I were invited to sign a few books for their regular buyers and collectors who keep in touch with them from all over the world. The Art Book Centre has been around for a long time and it is one of the must visit places in Ahmedabad on the list of most textile design related tourists to the city. They have an interesting and informative website and also respond to emails and can be reached through their contact info provided below. They have a particularly good reputation for mailing books overseas in a good condition but the book is heavy at 3.5 kg apiece and the postage too will be pretty heavy as a result.

Art Book Centre
Specialists in Books on Indian Art and Culture
Madalpur, Nr. Jain Temple, Ellis Bridge,
Ahmedabad – 380 007 INDIA

Email: artbookcenter_2000 (at)
Website: : Art Book Centre

Image 3: Product information from the previous posts on Design for India as well as the Mapin 2008 Catalogue.

The “Handmade in India” is marketed by Mapin Publishers Pvt Ltd, Ahmedabad on behalf of the COHANDS and the Development Commissioner of Handicrafts, Government of India who are the publishers of the book. Mapin has included the product details in their recent brochure and the product details are given below.

Handmade in India

Edited by Aditi Ranjan and M.P. Ranjan

576 pages, 3500 colour photographs and 140 maps,
9.5 x 13.5” (240 x 340 mm), hc,
Weight: 3.5 kg nett
ISBN: 978-81-88204-57-1 (Mapin)
ISBN: 978-81-88204-49-6 (Mapin Series ISBN)
Rs.3,950.00 / US$95.00 /

Image 4: Aditi Ranjan and M P Ranjan at the Art Book Centre signing event on Sunday 2 November 2008.

Download the complete book as pdf file 337 mb size Handmade in India as pdf 337 mb

M P Ranjan

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.