Concept: Deconstructing Design Workshop
Re-Designing Design education in India

The conceptual underpinnings of design as discussed above indicate the need to restore to it the significance of a transforming cognitive process sensitized towards apprehending human problems. Time has come to envisage design education as a holistic entity not only in the sphere of its application but also in its theory as pervasive of all cognitive aspects of science and technology. Within our educational institutions , there is a need to not only improve upon the skill to produce, but also demonstrate the relevance of the thought process generated there within. Design as a research discipline can be a managerial one capable of offering to all other areas the means to attain greater transversality, a greater humanity, and to bring with it a conscience that exact sciences do not inherently possess. This may require highly porous boundaries between established disciplines and design. Besides porosity of boundaries, an innovative academic process needs to be encouraged creating tools of enquiry capable of self- interrogation moving towards an inter-textuality of curriculum.

This can position design thinking as a cognitive process central to all disciplines.

Here, Design studies needs to ground itself not as an extension of engineering or as an engineering+ discipline, but as an independent multi-disciplinary school that teaches design as a cognitive process, that informs whatever the mind applies itself to. The basic premise of the approach to Design education in this note therefore, is to regard design as an autonomous and interdisciplinary study with a strong cognitive base for open ended applications. Interestingly, design thinking is not limited to a conception and its representation on a drawing board/screen alone. It has the advantage of knowing through hands to shape a design as a part of the studio pedagogy of design education; not as a compliment to its theory, but as a theory by itself.
Translated into an academic structure, this would require dissolving the divisions between humanities, science and engineering, and to construct an innovative academic process that integrates these into a single curriculum, not a bundle of different curricula. An inter-textual curriculum that develops capabilities to link cross–sector thinking with specialized needs of particular contexts can lead to a holistic design thinking that can form the basis of any problem solving endeavor. Here, issues and concerns need to be derived from the experience of the community which further informs the construction of its curriculum and pedagogy in a way that critically reflects upon its own tools even as it uses them to evolve solutions. Thus, here is a unique opportunity to reinvent engineering departments together with humanities and liberal arts to recast them as part of a design education complex .
Engineering schools are ideally placed to undertake this innovative re-integration of curriculum as they combine inductive and deductive enquiry. Engineering design when it moves from structural functional fields to intersect with human usage needs to understand the profound cultural influences of the medium that mediates it. The cultural human dimension is important and informs design choices in a meaningful way, without which the processes/products would for all their inventiveness remain sterile on account of insufficient use to society. But at the same time it is equally important to avoid moving unthinkingly, in the name of human/cultural resources towards design as decorative elements that only spawns consumerism and artificially enhances costs. In the context of these real tensions in the interpretation and application of design, it is important to foreground the discussion of engineering knowledge with notions of sustainable human development, with capacities to discriminate rationally between intrinsic and instrumental value and between individual and collective good.