Concept: Deconstructing Design Workshop

Post-independent India, as early as 1958, showed a remarkable foresight in envisaging the increasing role of design thinking in nurturing a young generation of creative problem solvers, besides constructing an usable and aesthetic environment expressive of the Indian ethos. India Design Report by Charles and Ray Eames, formed the basis of the first Indian Design School on the Bauhaus episteme of functionality and simplicity, seeking to integrate the craftsman and the artist into the designer. Later the, the Ulm school of design, 1953 also influenced the course of Indian design pedagogy. Design then, was still a nascent field with its origins dating back to the aftermath of the post-industrial revolution that marked a division between skills of the mind from that of the hand. As production was determined and restricted by the machine, the limitations of the machine itself became the aesthetics of the designed product. Thus, designs were not only reproduced but were also designed for reproducibility.

The early design pedagogy approached design through specializations in individual streams- Product Design, Visual Communication, Industrialized Building, Information and Filmmaking. This resulted in an academic program with a common Foundation course, followed by introduction to consolidated theoretical disciplines, today famously known as the Ulm model. Other forces such as social factors or psychology of the users were placed on the periphery of the pedagogy.

Since 1980s, the field of design has changed tremendously in its approach, towards itself as well as vis-a-vis the external world. From form and function, designers have moved on to designing meaning, sense and experience. The Bauhaus approach of functionalist design has been broadened to include semantics, strategy, culture and experience amongst others. The on-going shift from product to systems and services and from linear toward networked design processes is changing the conceptualization of design product as well as its practice . This is reflecting in the shift in design problems from product casing alone to interfaces and experiences as well as the areas of design intervention itself. The designer's arena has moved from consumption to include sustainability, cultural diversity, immersive environments and lateral problem solving to name a few; thus making it truly inter as well as multi- disciplinary. Thus the Stanford Design School "... draws on methods from engineering and design, and combines them with ideas from the arts, tools from the social sciences, and insights from the business world".

In a developing country like India, these changing design notions become even more significant not only because we have the largest market but also the largest diversity for design intervention which reflects in our unique needs. Broadly speaking, the country requires not only affordable production with an aesthetic sensibility but also cultural acceptability, sustainability and inclusivity of the diverse user segments. Wide spread adoption of smart touch phone is a case of universal design in point. But is Indian design thinking as well as design pedagogy reflecting this changing complexity?