Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking back : Visitors to Design for India

One and a half years on, looking back at the stats of visits, visitors and page views on the Design for India blog.

Prof M P Ranjan’s papers

Image 1: Graph of visits, visitors and page views on the Design for India blog over the past 18 months.

As the year 2008 winds down with a sharp fear of worldwide recession that has been sweeping the global financial markets we have a chance to look back at the year that was in the context of this blog about Design for India. Design it seems is drawing growing attention from around the world and in particular Design for India has shown a growing trend in terms of visits, visitors and page views that have been clocked over the past 18 months that this blog and its visitors have been actively monitored across a few parameters of interest.

Image 2: Visits to Design for India from 115 cities across India.

Where do the visitors come from?
The single largest block is from India and I am happy for that since it tells me that interest in design is growing in India and that internet users too are getting to visit a site about Design for India. However it is a bit disturbing that most of these visits are from the major metros although there is still an unaccounted set that could be coming from small towns these do not show up in the Google Analytics view of cities from which the traffic is seen. 115 cities in India have accounted for 23,878 visits and bulk of these came from Ahmedabad, Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad. Going down the list of cities it is gratifying to see small towns in remote areas listed and we do hope that the message from this blog will reach more schools and workplaces across India where it really matters in the year ahead.

Image 3: Visits from 52 regions of the USA.

The second biggest block of visits comes from the USA and all 52 Regions have shown visitor traffic of 8268 visits and here California, New York, Illinois, Texas and Florida rake in the major share as the top five regions for visitors to the Design for India blog. These 52 regions include as many as 1943 cities with Los Angles and its suburbs, New York, San Francisco and Chicago contributing the largest number of visitors from the USA.

Image 4: Visits from 153 countries across the world with India and USA as top sources of visitor traffic to this blog.

The worldwide picture is also showing some interesting statistics. 42,511 visits have come from 153 countries with India topping the list at 23,878 visits, USA at 8,268, UK at 1,738, Canada at 744, Australia 578, Germany, 480, France, 384 followed by Italy, Netherlands and Switzerland. The city count amongst the top countries are as follows: UK from 296 cities, Canada from 127 cities, Germany from 149 cities and France from 121 cities, and so on.

The top pages visited are listed below and in all 72,071 page views have been recorded across the 105 articles posted on this blog over the past 18 months.

1. Mayo Clinic Sparc and IDEO Design – 1,186

2. Ginger: Design of Smart Hotel Chain – 1,169

3. Herman Miller and Vitra in India – 1,157

4. Bamboo Mat Boards from IPIRTI - 948

5. LEGO: Toy for all ages - 926

6. Rainwater Harvesting: FURAAT Systems - 919

7. Handmade in India: Handbook of crafts of India - 910

8. Charles and Ray Eames: Legacy in India - 908

9. Jewellery and Retail sectors in India - 832

10. Making of Design Entrepreneurs in India. - 668

11. KaosPilot: A Business School that teaches Design - 651

12. IFA: Bamboo exhibitions in Stuttgart and Berlin - 643

I look forward to an active period of design use ahead in 2009 that starts from tomorrow and I wish all the visitors a

Very Happy New Year

We also wish that this kind of design use will be supported by sustainable models which is the theme for the World Economic Forum in January 2009 at Davos for which we have just concluded a series of workshops and charettes on sustainability through which we hope to reach out to the policy makers in industry and governments across the world. Design for India and design from India will, I hope, make an impact across the world in the days ahead.

Prof M P Ranjan’s papers

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Design Way: Dr Harold Nelson at NID, Ahmedabad

The Design Way: Dr Harold Nelson at NID, Ahmedabad

Prof M P Ranjan’s archives

Image: Dr Harold Nelson at NID and the poster for the mini conference at NID.

Dr Harold Nelson visited NID at our invitation and spent a couple of days on campus. His visit to India was unfortunately truncated due to the change of schedule for the CII NID Design Summit in Pune which was cancelled in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack. However we managed to pre-pone his visit to NID and during his stay we were able to organize a mini conference titled “Designing Designers: The Nelson Way.”

Most of my students are familiar with the book written by Dr Harold Nelson with Eric Stolterman, “The Design Way”, which is an amazing articulation of the various dimensions of design as we now know it to be today. Design for Nelson is an intentional activity that generates value. Design has changed and in order to explore the various dimensions of this change we decided to explore these dimensions in a mini conference for which we invited a panel of our teachers and juxtaposed it with the theme lecture by Dr Nelson.

Image: Harold Nelson delivers the theme lecture and the panelists at the mini conference (L to R) Dr Nelson, Suchitra Sheth, M P Ranjan, Shashank Mehta and Chakradhar Saswade.

The mini conference was called:
Designing Designers: The Nelson Way
NID in conversation with Dr. Harold Nelson

"Our ultimate desire is to encourage and promote a design culture… A design tradition requires the enabling presence of a design culture, one that defines conceptual expanses and boundaries, and provides a context for setting particular limits on any design project. Such a design culture acts as a catalyst in the formation of social crucibles essential for sustaining the intensity of design action."

Panel Members:
Mr. Shashank Mehta, Mr. Chakradhar Saswade, Ms. Suchitra Seth, Prof. M. P. Ranjan

Image: Dr Harold Nelson with his models for Systems Assessment: from apposition and analysis, through critique and interventions leading to change through delibrate re-design, adding meaning and creating value.

One of the ways in which we are engaged in the development of a design culture in India is through our models for design education. One task of design education is the designing of designers themselves: building the character and competence for design. The other is the awareness, development and recognition of design competence in other streams of education and in society at large. Both of these are essential to the creation of an environment that can help us realise the potential of design action.

There are a variety of inputs and many possible approaches in each of these tasks. There are also perspectives that design education must take cognisance of: social development, sustainability and macro economics, among others. The panel discussed some of these issues, and their views on design education for a creative society set the tone for the Q & A session that followed.

Image: Dr Nelson with students at the NID’s Product Design studio.

This led up to the theme lecture by Dr Nelson after which we had lunch with a group of faculty colleagues at the NID Guest House. The post lunch session had Dr Nelson meeting the students in a huddle in the Product Design studio and a lively session went on late into the evening since the Nelsons, Harold and his daughter Autumn, were leaving for Delhi early the next morning.

Prof M P Ranjan’s archives

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

BBC Radio on the Emerging Design Cities: Bangalore & Beijing featured

Design Cities from the BRIC Nations on the BBC Radio: Bangalore & Beijing featured
Prof M P Ranjan Papers

Image: The Design Museum lecture hall before the event. Prof Ranjan and Denis Cherdantsev in the foreground with Ou Ning from China and George Pegasiou of the British Council, London in the background of classic Eames wire chairs that were set up for the audience.

The morning session of the Design Cities Debate started with a visit to Bush House in London for a scheduled interview for BBC Radio along with Deyan Sudjik, Director of the Design Museum. Mark Coles of the BBC conducted the interview and set the tone for the discussion on the Design Cities Debate that had been set up by the exhibition at the Design Museum in London later in the day on 15th December 2008.

The full interview as it was broadcast on Tuesday, 16th December 2008 can be listened to at this link here (BBC interview link page) and those who wish can download the interview as a QuickTime file from this BBC interview download link here. Andrea Kidd was the producer at the BBC who had spoken to me in the preliminary tele-conversation that explored the scope of the discussions at the final interview and Mark Coles sat with the visitors in the small recording studio around a round table while Andrea could be seen through the glass wall while she managed the recording console on the other side.

This experience brought back fond memories from a far away past in my childhood in Madras since I used to then listen to the BBC World Service on shortwave radio every night before bedtime and on the hour (GMT) we heard the chimes of the Big Ben followed by the announcement “… broadcast from Bush House, London”, and here I was at Bush House London to attend the Design Cities interview with Deyan Sudjik of the Design Museum and Ou Ning from Beijing. The BBC interview was broadcast on the evening of Tuesday, 16th December 2008 and it is available online from the Arts and Culture module called the Strand on Tuesday, and the broadcast can be downloaded or listened to at this link below:
The Strand – Tuesday page Go to archives and look up the 16th December , Tuesday page to listen to the broadcast.

Listen to the broadcast here (26 minutes for the full three part module or the last third for the Design Cities discussion.)

The Design & Architecture team at the British Council had proposed this event to the Design Museum and it was through the support from the British Council in London and India that I managed to travel to London to participate in this exciting event.

Prof M P Ranjan Papers

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bangalore wins Vote: The Design City of the Future

Bangalore wins Vote: The Design City of the Future

Prof M P Ranjan’s Papers

Image: Denis Cherdentsev from Russia and Prof M P Ranjan from NID Ahmedabad at the Design Museum terrace garden facing the Themes River with a view of the Tower Bridge and Norman Fosters famous Gerkin in the background view.

The British Council and the Design Museum in London had an exhibition to promote at their establishment located on the banks of the Themes River in London. They invited four designers and design thinkers from the BRIC nations to come all the way to London to a debate and each was asked to make a pitch about one selected city from each of their countries that had the most likely chance of becoming the next design city of the world. The Design & Architecture team at the British Council had proposed this event to the Design Museum and it was through the support from the British Council in London and India that I managed to travel to London to participate in this exciting event.

Deyan Sudjik, the curator of the Design Cities exhibition at the Design Museum and it current Director had made a selection of eight points in time when the world was changed in some significant way through the use of design. These eight events happened in seven different cities around the world and in his argument it started in London with the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851 and returned to London in 2008 and in the intervening period shifted from Vienna 1908, Dessau 1928, Paris 1931, Los Angeles 1949, Milan 1957, Tokyo 1987 and then back to London in 2008. The exhibition has an impressive collection of designed objects from each city and from the era that they represented and these were supported by pictures of the designers and some other related prints and texts. I am however surprised that Scandinavia of the 1960’s has been overlooked especially the work of the furniture masters at the Copenhagen school. Another point that crossed my mind is that the exhibition was almost completely object centric and the processes that formed the intangible parts of the visible offering did not form part of the debate in its favour. I am sure Deyan Sudjik has his own logic for the choices made from the vast array of possibilities that could be argued, for and against a particular city or an era when design made significant contributions to the world.

The people recognized by the curator in his catalogue are as follows:
William Morris and Christopher Dresser (London)
Adolf Loos and Josef Hoffmann (Vienna)
Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe (Dessau)
Le Corbusier and Eileen Grey (Paris)
Charles and Ray Eames (Los Angles)
Gio Ponti and Joe Colombo (Milan)
Akio Morita and Tadao Ando (Tokyo)
Norman Foster and Paul Smith (London)
The exhibits included works of several other designers who were living and working in the specific contexts listed above and the return to London in 2008 included many contemporary designers who have made a mark in the artistic and commercial circles with their design offerings.

The four architect/designers/journalist from the BRIC nations were asked to make a ten minute presentation each, back to back, followed by a rapid fire questions from the chair and the audience before the matter was placed before the whole audience to cast their vote to select the city of their choice based on their own reading of the four presentations. Ruy Ohtake represented Brazil and pitched for Sao Paolo as the next potential Design City. Denis Cherdantsev chose Moscow for Russia and Ou Ning offered Beijing as the choice from China while Prof M P Ranjan pitched for Bangalore, nay, Bengaluru as the next Design City from India.

The audience trooped in at 7.00 pm on the 15th December 2008 and the debate began with the first presentation about Sao Paolo followed Moscow, Bengaluru and Beijing. This was followed by questions from the chair and the audience and the when the matter was put to vote at 8.30 pm, Bengaluru was the clear winner by a decisive margin followed by Sao Paolo, Beijing and then Moscow. Systems models from Nature and people’s participation in a local Democracy were the highlights of the Bengaluru offering. The champions of the Bengaluru success are Poonam Bir Kasturi with her Daily Dump that promises to clean up the city through individual action motivated by the community and design scheme and this in turn promises to clean up the world when the design offering from Bengaluru is cloned in all the cities around the world just as the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) from Bogota in Colombia is now being cloned in New Delhi and Ahmedabad and soon will reach Hyderabad and Bengaluru as well. The other example from Bengaluru was the Industree success story as well as the scaling up achieved by Ray + Kesavan and IDIOM through merger and acqusition processes with big business involvement and the small and big design studios that have been set up by our designers as models for others to follow. The full presentation made by Prof M P Ranjan has been linked for download on the previous post on this blog.

I am happy that the audience gave the thumbs up signal to the Design City proposal from India in the form of Bengaluru and I do hope that this message will sweep back to India where design policy and design action is languishing due to government and industry apathy over the years. We do need to get local politics to take charge of design in the local context and move the action from the objects of desire in the consumer industry space to the much needed public facilities and shared facilities that are so critical for the city to become a place with “The Quality without a name” which had been explained by Christopher Alexander in his book “The Timeless Way of Building”, a quality that can be sensed and not necessarily be seen. Bengaluru has all the ingredients to make this work and show the world that the next design city will celebrate a new kind of design that transcends the material and deal with the intangibles that make a difference in the world and in the minds and hearts to the people.

The morning session on the 15th December began with an interview at the BBC at Bush House London the seat of BBC Radio that I used to listen to in my childhood days at Madras. Deyan Sudjik, Ou Ning and Prof M P Ranjan were interviewed by the BBC Radio team and the breadcast is expected later in the week and the schedules will be posted on the BBC World Service website. The next day in the morning a breakfast interview with the DesignWeek concluded our involvement in the series of Design City related events in London and their report is expected to be posted on the website here as well as in the print version of the magazine soon.

Prof M P Ranjan’s Papers

Monday, December 15, 2008

Design Cities Debate: Bengaluru at the Design Museum, London

Prof. M P Ranjan's papers

Design Cities Debate: Bengaluru at the Design Museum, London

Image: Opening slide of my presentation in London at the Design Museum pitching for Bangalore, nay "Bengaluru" as the emerging design city of the world, provided the design community and the local political leadership get it right in the days ahead.

I was invited by the British Council, London to participate in the Design Cities Debate at the Design Museum in London on 15th December 2008. On my way in here I wrote the following note to the DesignIndia discussion list since there was a raging debate already going on there based on the DNA news report that talked about my intention to speak about Bangalore as the potential Design City from India. The Design & Architecture team at the British Council had proposed this event to the Design Museum and it was through the support from the British Council in London and India that I managed to travel to London to participate in this exciting event.

My presentation slide show titled “Bengaluru: the making of a Design City” can be downloaded as a 2.4 mb PDF file from here

I quote my post on Design India below:

“Dear Uday and Friends…

I am sitting in the lounge at Sahar Airport and have some time now to respond to all the very interesting discussions that came out of this thread on Design Cities and now on the Design Capital.

I agree with you entirely that the concept of a capital based on a designer centric view is indeed an ego trip for the profession which is perhaps the last thing that we need to do in a climate of extreme lack of understanding of the core ideas of design as we know it today.

I was excited when the British Council in London invited me to participate in the Design Cities Debate to take place at the Design Museum in London on 15th December 2008 since this would give us an opportunity to explore the idea of design as it would and perhaps could apply to the shaping of a city of the future here in India. For me this was not a call to see which city had already arrived there or which one had the most designers and design related companies, however these would be an influencing factor, but not always relevent, since sometimes design is better off without designers.

Design for me is a basic human activity as well as a professional activity performed at many levels by a variety of professionals with their vast range of skill sets and an equally wide range of motivations and intentions, some deep and profound and some definitely shallow and short term, all of which may be needed and necessary based on the complexity and the context that is being addressed.

My approach was therefore to look at this as an opportunity to articulate what would be the attributes and necessary ingredients for a city to be called a design city of the future in India and then I looked at which city in my opinion could make the grade in the near future provided the necessary conditions and the public and political support could be mobilised to meet this end. All cities have the possibility to be called a Design City if they are able to meeet the conditions that I hoped to articulate in the process of this debate.

I chose Bangalore because I know it best and have been associated with the city from my childheeod visits in summer and I also see some very exciting things happening there that is far beyond the service provided by the practicing design studios, a sort of taking the design abilities and getting critical things done through the use of design thought and action in the public space. Here, I will comment that Poonam Bir Kasturi's Daily Dump is a shining example of such work that has the possibility not just to transform Bangalore but all cities in the world if the success here gets replicated in each local situation with the necessary local adjustments etc. Similarly the amazing success of Industree in mobilising 15000 women in rural India using local grasses and skills to provide fair employment and a hope for the future is another great example that is still work in progress.

Bangalore has also had two great scale building examples with R+K going to WPP and IDIOM joining Kishore Biyani and these show the way forward to meet the huge responsibility that design and designers have to deliver in India today. The other design entrepreneurs in Bangalore and the design schools for a platform that can catalyse huge change in the public space and for me this is very important. Design for industry has been harped upon for may years and I am not very impressed by these achievements. However social good that can reach the aam aadmi or the man in the street is still a far away dream it seems. The IT sector in Bangalore provides us an opportunity to use web2.0 tools to reach public needs be it services or local assiatance in local governance. Bangalore with the Janagraha and other public domocratic institutions are working together with design to help transform.

Yes, political will must be brought into the equation if massive change is to be achieved in geting the city to feel right for its citizens. The quality that Christopher Alexander has called "The Quality without a name", in his Timeless Way of Building", it is not Fashion but a durable and amazing quality that can be felt but cannot be seen or explained....

This for me comes back to the flower garlands that are made everyday in Bangalore and in many Indian cities, handmade strung flower by flower to make an ephemeral thread of fragrence that is worn on the head or offered in prayer on a daily basis. Nature has provided the abundance of flowers to Bangalore which is indeed the flower power of the world and the Rain Tree with its wide arching branches and its equally complex roots shows systems that we need to learn from so that our democracy can work as a designed offering to transform the city to a Design City of the Future. Bangalore can indeed show the way and I do hope that all our cities and villages will follow suit or take a runaway lead in a win win world of tomorrow.

With warm regrads

M P Ranjan
from the Clipper Lounge at Sahar
14 December 2008 at 11.55 am IST”


I am now in London and getting ready to join the other invitees from Brazil, Russia and China (The BRIC Nations) at an interview with BBC Radio at Bush House London and later in the day at the Design Museum for the Debate in the evening. I look forward to the event. More later.

M P Ranjan
Blogging from London
15 December 2008 at 7.30 am local time

Prof. M P Ranjan's papers

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