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Design Pedagogy in India: A Perspective Author(s): Singanapalli Balaram Source: Design Issues, Vol. 21, No.

4, Indian Design and Design Education (Autumn, 2005), pp. 11-22 Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25224015 . Accessed: 02/06/2013 23:58
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Design Pedagogy in India: A Perspective Balaram Singanapalli


Ifdefining design is an awesome task, any attempt to define Indian design would be even more difficult.This is because, in India, the
word design area has many meanings and

is not just the language, but themanifestation of design inmore


than one of Indian as The living and production. signs, border But and Indian women make this is floral patterns called design. made design. A piece by a auspicious intricate welcome decorative is design. improved traditionally new

past/present

associations.

It

of a sari

is considered chair

of jewelry or an

the innovative

carpenter,

bedpan?which

the modern

world
Even

calls design?is
in this twenty-first reason

not considered design by people


century, modern Indian industry as well

in India.
is familiar

with engineering design, but gets quite confused when it comes to


design. The for this is traditional association, as what

its colonial rulerspromoted as design through Indian arts and crafts


When modern design, as it is known today, group was introduced was in India, and when the first professional of designers

schools.

and industrialproduction, although the Society admitted all design ers including graphic designers, exhibit designers, textile designers,
and animators.

was called the Society of Industrial Designers of India founded, it was done to emphasize the relationship between design (SIDI). This

Roots of Indian Design


India's one oral culture and its intense is an absence is far from religious mysticism thinking might and give scien the idea that there but this of rational

tific systems, from BC, the

the truth. Historically, excavations architecture,

it is evident as 2500 and

Mohenjadaro-Harappa there was highly developed and

that, as early town planning,

many places. India's traditionalknowledge was highly technology in


organized meticulously articulated. Even in the arts, there were

extremely detailed canons and highly sophisticated structured trea tises.Ancient India had Shilpa Shastra for sculpture, Natya Shastra for
dance, Vaastu guish on Sangeetha Shastra between The Ratnakara for music, Since Vishnu Indian Dharmottara culture no by did for art, and not distin treatise prac for architecture. applied Shastras art and are

fine art, there was even today

separate the classical

design.

studied

new

titioners. This practice remains parallel towhat isbeing taught at the


art schools, these and modern classical design schools have not been able to integrate treatises into their curriculums.

2005 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005 11

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Systems of Education
To start, the complexity be clearly and tice must

in India: Gurukul and Craft Training


of Indian design education recognized. and This design prac appropriately complexity

is not just unity in diversity, but also the simultaneous telescopic existence of the past traditionswith the contemporary: thebullock
cart beside illiteracy the beside spacecraft, software the burkha1 supremacy. beside Miss Universe, and such In the field of education,

a complexity requires design education of a differentkind as well


as of a different degree. India's ancient system, called the Gurukul2

system, still isused with some changes in the learning of traditional


performing the guru, very a arts such as classical performer, a period music who and dance. all The pupils go to the is practicing over teaches to seven subjects The from change

beginning

of five

years.

that thepupils learn the dance/music in addition to thebasic educa tion in a modern school, while in the past the gurukul provided
comprehensive is in crafts, apprenticeship, to generation, While learning, from caste education. Another continuing on-the-job are passed learning training. tradition Through texts. areas of / community-based, the skills almost these and knowledge orally

from generation

always two

without continue

any written in the specific system

systems

the most

pervasive to

education college

in all other is the

fields,

primary

schooling over

graduation,

education

system ascribed to Lord Macaulay


their system colonial meant rule India. to create a middle-level

introduced by theBritish during


this was administrative an exploitative staff to serve

Although

the needs of its British rulers, India has not been able to replace this systemwith a better alternative inmore than half a century of
independence. Period: Basic Education and British

Pre-Independence

Macaulay's

Art Schools
In the early introduced nineteenth art schools century to India during at Calcutta, the colonial rule, and Britain Bombay Madras,

(in that order), that tried to include craftdesign in the curricula. But these art schools run by British principals were intended only
to 1 2 Muslim Burkha isa black cloakworn by women inpublic places. Sanskrit The genericmeaning ofguru in is "very gurumeans high." Presently, venerable spiritualteacher,as Hinduism expects a trueteacher to be. Gurukul is because the "the guru's family" literally with pupils inthis systemused to stay his family. the guru like 3 Swadeshi literally "belongingto one's own country," to a pre-indepen refers dence nationalist movement, favoring and boycotting home industries foreign goods. 12

cies. They ruined local creativity and design talent. In the name of
improving "native taste," such schools imposed Western techniques

produce

"copyists"

to serve

various

colonial

government

agen

and visual idioms which caused lasting damage


of Indian considered discrimination The artificial craftsmen ornament among separation tradition. response ideological of deepest was a part to this violation framework significance of India's came from or and as craft learning. The Indian essential to architecture, arts, fine arts,

to the confidence
culture and and always no arts. made

decorative taught

applied

at the colonial

art schools

violated

the Indian The the larger concept Swadeshi

Indian

thinkers

in a

of swadeshi3 to the struggle Indian

indigenousness, even today. lasting

psyche

for independence,

Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005

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from 1857 until 1947. India's struggle was


visionary Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi,

unique. Lead by the


was remark

the struggle

able not only for itsprinciple of nonviolence, but also for its inclusion
of social is a key and educational reforms in its goals. ideology. As Economic caste-based self-reliance craft learn component in swadeshi

ing began to sufferdue to the onslaught of industrial production, Gandhi himself and other Indian intellectuals started experimental schools and innovative pedagogy. Gandhi called his education Naya Taalim (new training), and established his schools in a decentralized
in remote others in crafts, villages was where people needed poet training most. Notable who among Nobel his design. laureate Rabindranath an well experimental before Tagore,

way

established for arts,

Bengal and

Santiniketan, Starting compares

university of

the emergence with the renowned

the Bauhaus, German

Santiniketan

favorably

school.

While similar to theBauhaus but in an environment of feudal


oppression cultivation believed ity and of man's function and colonial exploitation, crafts energies tend in a concept running to meet on Santiniketan stood for the Tagore of arts and that, "Man's self-expression true world?the of art.4 An and of total education. two

lines of util parallel .... The and mingle building of truth and of learning were beauty?is the

living world process was

integrated decoration

painting,

sculpture, Freedom not only were forms in

crafts, design, of learning in methods classes created took and

followed

at Santiniketan. given emphasis environment.

freedom

of expression but also

of learning, place

in the under

physical

Most

in the open for religious such

a tree. Secular and a

festivals for new

as vehicles One and

reinterpretation Vasanta Mtsav,

of expression. which students

event was

spring Tagore

festival commu

faculty

participated

together.

nicated with Walter Gropius, but realizing the Western dominance


already in the art and artifacts of India, he later turned to Japan and

China for inspiration.


The synthesize Bauhaus the work and Santiniketan and were much Their and alike in trying a machine the and is not to of artists craftsmen. evolved difference taught lay in

their application. aesthetic language oriented a oriented

While to mass

the Bauhaus production,

Santiniketan in the Indian

considered context, craft

of the hand its teaching but

more towards a

important

craft production.

In India, as well still

thing of the past, nearly

thing of the present million craftspersons

as of the future. practicing, a great craft

With is as

twenty-three

contemporary

as mass

in the globalized world of the future. For the student, craft is an


education that makes men and women grow in wholeness

production,

showing

promise

R. L. Bartholomew,ed., Nandalal Bose: A Collection ofEssays [Hew Delhi: Lalit Kala Academy,1980), 53.

brought in touch with materials. The discerning art criticHerbert Read called this "education through things,"while India's "great soul" (Mahatma)Gandhi advocated this as thepedagogical principle
of "learning by doing."

by being

13 Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005

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Post-Independence Period: Modern Design and Tech-nology-based Design


Based tion on Macaulay's adapted foundations the Western of basic models. in India

Education
educa was the

education, Design

higher

education

latest to arrive in India.After Independence in 1947, India focused on rapid scientificand technological development. India's largestdams,
largest core industries, and scientific organizations at started with

help from the best foreign expertise available. Space research and
nuclear research programs were established premier technologi

cal institutions such as the Indian Institutesof Technology. The then Prime Minister, Pandit Jawharlal Nehru, had the vision to see the importance ofmodern design and architecture in thedevelopment of whole cityofChandigarh as a model of cityplanning and design the
architecture, and Charles and industry and the economy of the country. He invited Le Corbusier to

of training in the area of design as a model of design education. This


program India within particularly do would aid smaller industries, and show what goods could to resist the rapid deterioration of consumer

Ray

Eames

to recommend

a program

the country.

Viewing design as an activity that improves the quality of


life, in their 1958 investigation "India those Report," values the Eameses and qualities recommended that Indians a sober consider into

with a restudy of theprob important to a good life,and "to follow it lems of environment and shelter; to look upon thedetailed problems were being attacked for the of services and objects as though they
first time; actual to restate to solutions explore between "India, to these problems symbols which was in theory of India." a fertile where and in prototype; the evolving "America, Drawing tradi the

a distinction tion-less decisions or action wrote changing

clearly and are apt

field,"

a tradition-oriented decisions?in

society

to be unconscious calls must even

that each (preset) decisions the quality be made

situation they values to relate

automatically "all decisions

for a specified be to conscious approach

reaction,"

that

evaluating and

factors.

In order society,

of a traditional

a conscious

effort must

an effect.Security here lies in every factor that might possibly have


change needs." and conscious selection in India, The and correction in relation to evolving and but not also a Traditionally, activity. design is an evolutionary not only recognized,

of India. They greatly admired, the process of evolutionary design stated: "Of all the objects we have seen and admired during our visit to India, the Lota, that simple vessel of everyday use [to carry
water], 5 Charles and Ray Eames, The IndiaReport of (Ahmedabad:National Institute Design, 1958), 1-18. stands out as

revolutionary

Eameses

will appraise and solve the hoped "that an attitude be generated that
problems dignity, of our and love coming times with served the same tremendous service, that the Lota its time."5

perhaps

the greatest,

the most

beautiful"

and

14 Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005

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The first major, full-fledged industrial design institutiontobe established in India on thebasis of the India Report's recommenda tionswas theNational
to say

Institute ofDesign
no design in India

atAhmedabad
courses

in 1961.
earlier.

This Many fields

is not

that there was institutions such

education offered

in India

educational of design,

in various craft design,

as commercial

art, architecture,

and engineering design. NID


center sense, for excellence providing in design in all learning

is a landmark in molding
education in the most the disciplines of design

itselfas a
one

contemporary under

design schools of note in India have adopted it as their founding


principle. Thus, it is not altogether wrong to assume that what

roof. The pioneering educational philosophy established during the 1960s at theNational InstituteofDesign is so successful that all
I

am describing here is not thepedagogy of one design school, but of design education in general in India,with localized variations to fit
the structures of individual institutions.

The design education system established throughNID


decades ago did not remain static. It was reviewed and

four

were made
foreign Gui

from time to time, internally as well as with thehelp of


such as Charles and Ray Eames, One Herbert Lindinger, reviews John Reid, and Carl Aubock. of the major

changes

experts

ofNID was done by theKamla Chaudhary Review Committee in


1989.6 Another group dations, is in use led by a new today. thorough the author system review was made by an educational review in 1993.7 was put Following into practice this group's at the NID recommen which still

Bonsiepe,

The Question
There is an art education that modern

of Influence
notion, was a largely prevailing was in the West, colonial greatly this. Art rulers, that and in India design gift of the British in India

erroneous

education

influenced

by the Bauhaus. Even my comments inmy book ThinkingDesign


(1998) were a precursor curse who rather misread of design than a by some critics to support an education, called a education in India, itwas of art perhaps imposition can be

gift because the culture

by authorities This was

misunderstood

opposed by Indian leaders as well as sympathetic British artists and


art critics As at the time. far as modern design is concerned, the National Institute

learning

in India.

Kam laChoudhry, Reportof theReview Committeeon FutureDirectionsand ForwardPlanning forthe National Institute ofDesign (Ahmedabad:National Institute of Design,1989).

(originally called theNational Design Institute)which pioneered design education in India may reflect some of the best aspects of design pedagogy from many parts of theworld, but was not exclusively influenced by any particular foreign school. It is
West and, in some cases, used some curricula in association with a

of Design

true that the early Indian founder educators had been trained in the

S. Balaram, ed., New Curriculum of (Ahmedabad:National Institute Design, 1993).

visiting foreign expert. But theywere conscious of the difference in the Western and Indian realities right from the beginning. They
examined the curricula and outcomes of the great design schools

Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005 15

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in order categorical

to learn more denial of all

what

not

to do

than what are a

to do.

This

is not

influences.

There have

great many mutual. or

influences India in its

from many characteristic course

sources, way

and

they always

been

particularly

assimilated

the Vorkurs

preliminary

of the Bauhaus. India followed Mahatma Gandhi's remark: "I want cultures

of all lands flown about my house as freelyas possible, but I refuse tobe blown off Notable among the design schools my feetby any."8 which have had a strong association with India were the Bauhaus inWeimar, the Hochschule fur Gestaltung in Ulm, the Kunst Gewerbeschule in Basel, theRoyal College ofArt in London, and

theCranbrook Academy ofArt in world's best Michigan. Some of the were and thinkers invited to visit to teach at India designers design
the newly established design schools or to work on an Indian design

project of longer duration with Indian design teachers, and freely exchanged ideas. This model worked extremelywell, particularly in
the beginning on modern The bullock years. India. There is a superficial demand most Western for Indian cultural realities influence prevails. In the end,

cart which

is the second

important

transportation grinder to make the all are escape for

means;

the pressure

cooker script

for cooking

rice, the wet printing

idlis,9 the Devanagari unstitched modern, Indian sari, authentic designers,

to suit modern

processes,

the supercomputer Indian and realities

for farmers' from which should

needs?these there reflect is no this.

their education

The Students before Entry


Before education system routine, is not formulating system (Macaulay's) restriction" easy design preceding in India type, and pedagogy, it. The it is necessary higher to consider education "rote, system are the kills to at the secondary

is an o ver structured, a switch Analysis and to a totally and lateral

didactic different thinking rote

for the students. of design design or education, education

lifeblood both. The

conventional

learning

offered situation. levels,

at the undergraduate But when it has education

level has is offered students enter

cope with advanced

this prevailing postgraduate or architecture.

to cope with training,

ing after craft training, engineering

after art school All these

or after graduation follow different learn

in

streams

ing systems, so the firsttask of the Indian design school is tonullify thepedagogical shock bymaking the student unlearn old things and
before he or she learns new things and new ways.

old ways

Educational Philosophy
The 8 9 M. K. Gandhi, Young IndiaJournal (Ahmedabad:publisherunknown,1921). Idli isa popular south Indiansnack ricepaste. prepared fromfermented early visionaries of Indian design education, notably Gautam

Sarabhai
through

(textile industrialist and Le Corbusier


NID, where he was chairman,

client), adopted
of creating a series

within the student a concern for the quality of his or her physical
environment and for its relevance to human needs. After

the approach

16

Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005

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know and learning to do," which soon became the credo of design education in India. He firmlyestablished the principles of action The focus of learning for the student isnot on acquiring knowledge about a specific design discipline or subdiscipline, but on having
for this approach. The first and foremost principle is the "focus."

of discussions among Indian thinkers,Sarabhai aptly modified the earlier pedagogical principle of "learning by doing" to "learning to

adequate opportunities (a) to think forhimself or herself, (b) tohave his/her ideas questioned, and (c) tobe able to intelligentlyquestion
the ideas of others. second principle concerns the "scale." Avoidance of The

massive

that large institutionshave to pay a heavy price in termsof alienation of both


and students, as well as in bottlenecks in decision-making are many the best

size was

advised because

Sarabhai believed

faculty

and of unmanageable
growth and maturation system instructional

complexities thathinder the opportunities for


of the students. gets swamped with If the classes students, reduce large, "the of whom of teach

are so immature ers to frustrative

and unwilling incompetence."

that they can

The third principle regards "discipline." He proposed the provision of opportunities forgrowth and maturation rather than
the continued maturation dominance in students was of disciplinarian as teaching. the ability Growth to discover and for described

themselves towhat use they could put the knowledge theygained, and to accept responsibility for such use. Many of the disciplinary
measures contrary attendance to reinforce usually prevailing at Indian Enforcing lest because educational such grading institutions as compulsory are to this principle. in classes, an measures and

excessive

testing,

"... are attempts to accept responsi

authority

of its failure

bility either for intellectual trainingor for theprovision of opportuni


ties for growth and maturation."10

Project-based Indian make design one

Learning education than also realized that it is more important principle, "to teach

learn" vary

to teach one. Within around individual reading are

this broad

ing methods ones

greatly and

the country. guidance kept

The most and group

prevailing discussion.

are studio work, and textbook

Lecturing

to a minimum.

Much
students to design are

of the design education


encouraged and to take an to experiment and to develop

in India is project-based;
intuitive new creative approach forms, new freely with original,

empirical,

problems and

materials

processes,

10 Gautam Sarabhai, NID: An Educational Philosophy(Ahmedabad:National of Design, 1972), 2-3. Institute

Workshops thus are given prominence at NID and other Indian design schools. But Indian industry complains that the graduates do not fit into theircorporate culture, which is rigidly structuredand
hierarchical. at design After school all the "unlearning" his the student had school to following rigid, overstructured undergo or college

thinking.

Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005 11

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education, the young designer again is faced with another rigid,


overstructured India neurs, opt production freelance system. design Thus most young or designers entrepre in to become than consultants as in-house design

rather

join the industry

designers.

Making
Design

of the Professional
educators consider the essential characteristics of a profes

sion to be the practice as required by its society, and maintaining very high professional quality inwork and conduct. Professional education
teachers

in design involves both the teaching of design-related


and skills, as well as practice under supervision. The impart such education keeps and thus are the teacher concerns required to be practic in touch industry of date,

knowledge who

ing professionals. with and

Practice

continually of the Indian never out

the contemporary markets. What he

needs or she and

teaches it enriches earns

is thus

constantly More teacher

made

relevant, such

the teaching

significantly. the

important, and

practice

the respect a role model,

of the student; and

his/her

work

become

the relation

ship between the teacher and the student is powerfully reinforced.


However, the teacher must be aware of and avoid the risk of inhibit

ing innovation and of curbing originality in the student,who might simply tryto imitate the teacher.
The founders recommended professional as practice either

individually or collectively by teachers throughout the institution


in order integral financially individual acter, and to unite educational rewarding practice in principle and centers practice. students' appears participation to be an excellent in professional concept. But of client practice there are and along seri theory and practice complementary practice compared parts would of one be less process. Institutionalized but easier

to teachers,

to outside national char while insti

because

the institute's would attract

reputation, projects. different

infrastructure

Currently, design

agreeing tutions and

to teacher-practitioners, have varying systems

for institutional

practice

private

Ideally, with ous teachers problems

lum time schedules; disparity between student skill levels and the skills demanded by a specific project; and problems of incompat
ibility between An curricular alternative requirements to student and professional project opportunities. participation in institutional

in implementation:

nonmatching

curricu

be projects is sponsored projects. These projects from clients could


undertaken curricular in a class where requirements. as an Approach: production and on Generality at four levels: These and Holism large-scale, all are small too the project would be appropriate to the

Design In India, scale,

Emphasis takes place

craft,

of large to be ignored by Indian design. The design requirements


each sector are vastly different. The last two sectors are unorganized

cottage-

or home-based.

sectors

18 Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005

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and sector way

labor-oriented. is hardly for design design to find

Therefore, practical.

separate

design shows

education that

for each

Experience to address

the appropriate complexity that enables is the

education as an

this production creative process

to teach student

approach?a in any

solutions

even though the approach should work for any production level, tools employed may be different.
As more knowledge formed which areas led to emerged in the world, This more specializations enon tional is evident Indian fragmentation. medicine. system phenom at

given

situation.

The

same

design

in the practice system

of allopathic a holistic

In the tradi that aims

strengthening thewhole body to overcome the disease rather than


offering prescribes a local cure, the physician, plan for diet, rather than offering medicine, during a certain for rest, and for conduct

of Ayurveda,

a specific period of time. A similar integrative total approach


suitable is valued unmanageable of cultures, Indian for Indian more design education. than Although special itwould an enormous ization in the world multiplicity languages, firmly generalization, has Design need

is

perhaps mean

for India which and religions.

diversity synthesis. our

is an act of to choose

educators

believe

that, ifwe

between breadth and depth of design knowledge, breadth should


be priority. Generalization in design education level. design is particularly can be crossing recommended taken up borders for the undergraduate studies. Indian Specialization schools prefer

in advanced between design

faculties

to compartmentalization.

Course The below:

Structure in most Indian design schools are structured as shown

courses

Figure1 A basic design course exercise by the author a as an industrial design student,following between two method of transitions logical and a point located inspace. end forms

Foundation Course

Work Field Documentation

Projects Courses

Production Experience

Final Project or Thesis

Although
starts with application skill in

generalization
learning as which

is difficult, the typical program


design course, grow and proceeds to in their complex

the basic

ityand include technical as well as conceptual integration (Figure work is considered important in the 1). The documentation of field
acquisition of indigenous or knowledge, as well as in estab

projects,

progressively

students'

lishing rapport with rural people.


undergo center, production or a design an experience studio. Only

In their final year, the students


internships this are at an industry, craft the students allowed

after

to proceed to the final project/thesis, where they are expected to


demonstrate curriculum situation learning. 19 Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005 and acceptable level project practice of professional learning, situation in which competence. The emphasizes professional the production tools of

are considered

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At thispoint, Indian pedagogy has developed


tive design courses. Notable among them are process documentation, the environmental In terms perception

some innova
course, and the

the craft or traditional

the space-form-structure.

of motivating

the student,

prediploma presentation required at theNID is quite significant.11 Indian design educators currentlyare tryingto cope with the perceived inadequacies brought by changing times, such as the lack
of a theoretical developmental computer The of designers: aesthetic knowledge issues, base appropriate and interface in design, inputs design. require base; creative, varied some types with a environmental in design concerns, management,

applications, varied some levels with

of Indian a strong others

production technological with a strong

strong

base;

and

base. These are evident at the different Indian design schools. At


the design as Indian schools Institutes that are part of Technology, of large technical is on as universities strong such the accent such technical the accent qualifica at each

conceptual

input; while is on tions, creative years

at autonomous conceptualization. of learning are different.

institutions

the NID, the entry awarded

Accordingly, and the degrees

required,

institution

Documentation

of Traditional

Practices

and

Research

Indian design education's


diverse needs of an enormous,

true challenge
developing to

lies in addressing
country. One

the

of the most

pressing needs ishelping people with design. This requires educat


ing students to give design training people who are illiterate.

Back in the 1970s, the author first proposed the "barefoot designer"
concept This India as a solution to impact such a vast which are several in urban population have not with been design.12 made in in the the required until policy-level now. Although all of them percent major changes there are located

design

schools leaving

country remaining

now,

centers,

eighty

of the population strengths because

in villages

untouched. rich tradition.

One

of India's

is its enormously

A wealth of knowledge, distilled through generations of evolution,


11 Forthcoming articles on these innova readersmay consult tions. Interested S. Balaram, ed., New Curriculum of (Ahmedabad:National Institute Design, 1993), 14,26, and 57; and S. Balaram and N. N. Patel,Adalaj Village: Environmental PerceptionCourse Documentation (Ahmedabad:National of Design,1992), 26. Institute 12 S. Balaram, "A Different Design Movement: A Call" (Paperpresented at theAsian Design Forum, Nagoya 1986): S. Balaram, 72. It was published later in Thinking Design (Ahmedabad:National Institute of Design, 1998),77. exists but is not written apparent records of the oral nature Traditions to of Indian were and society passed this prac is only inwhich on are not kept. from generation "Lota" simply

by word

of mouth,

generation, by a vast there

tice continues one mundane design-rich to research researching

to this day. The object objects and a learn on and

admired scene, and are

the Eameses number

the Indian

of such

communications

for the designer step record in

from. Documentation or a process, helping

is the preliminary Indian society by

can be shared globally ing such knowledge in tangible form so that it


of all and for posterity. is viewed as rediscovering a new Conventional research

product

for the benefit

of existing knowledge aspect in a hidden past or taking the frontiers


further. Because most Indian traditions are living, what needs to

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Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005

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follow thedocumentation is the application of traditionalknowledge


to contemporary effects tions in a creative to future or future fashion. design situations in new leaping ways from past materials, for new tradi forms, It also means connecting to the world's

aspirations;

traditional

techniques, forms, and

and wisdom needs.

future materials,

techniques,

The research challenge to Indian institutions is both to be


relevant to industry's and present needs, Take and of out as well as innovative natural with indigo 2); local materials to create or another developing coconut at India's 2 Figure A natural indigo-dyed textilepaintingby PadminiTolat Balaram, an NID graduate. fiber, and processes. the case abstract of using

contemporary example, fine-count palms) design bamboo; to design

textiles a blend yarn

paintings innovation coarse coir

(Figure and fiber

technical of usually Similar

design (from

coir dresses. with

experiments such as an palm

continue leaf, jute part

institutions

materials in India.

all abundant is to enable for older

Thus,

important and

of the curriculum design applications

the student materials.

to find new

unique

Cross

Cultural

Interaction

It enriches the quality of design education in India to have Indian


teachers with work with students. together foreign The teachers, best and Indian students occurs towards to work when foreign work of cross-fertilization at an equal level

students a common important

as a team aspect

achieving

objective. for India,

This where

of design

education rooted

is particularly in culture. Some

life is deeply

very fruitfuloutcomes of collaboration have been the design of GADI (Ground-level Assistive Design for India), produced jointly
with Canadian students and teachers; and a future car for India

with Japanese students and teachers (Figure 3). In designed jointly


the networked society of today, such sharing offers great promise.

3 Figure car for India. The "Palki2010," a future Thiswas a collaborativeprojectbetween of the studentsof theNational Institute Design,Ahmedabad; the IndianInstitute ofTechnology, Mumbai; and TokyoZokei Daigaku.

21 Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005

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On the other hand, short teaching inputs by visiting foreign faculty usually are nothingmore than a brief exposure. Since foreign faculty
take time in grasping the Indian ethos, such

well only if theyare long or repetitive,and coordinated by an Indian


educator.

teaching

inputs

work

Conclusion It is no exaggeration to say that Indian institutions stand on a

par with the best design schools in theworld, and have excellent
design teachers. Yet the number is dismal in of design proportion schools and the number needs. indus of trained Ironically, designers the reason to the country's makers nor

is that neither

the policy

trybelieves the Indian designer to be crucial to the acceleration of designers to design for them, or produces
abroad. Here is a good context: example the most of how expensive in the Indian sells brand more India, the country's development. Indian industry even car than commissions foreign can

things totally designed


the best in India, any other design fail the Mercedes, competitive has area. In sits

for approximately from Korea space almost or

ten times more Japan available and less

in India. in the back drivers,

The Mercedes (passenger) and

in the front area all cars

are driven

by hired

the owner

in the back. The owner thus has to suffer less legroom, leaving the best part of the car tohis driver.
Until and effective and there policies design students is more awareness and will at the parliamentary this situation to provide costs level, will are made institutions because implemented, be forced

continue to overseas

education in the

Indian

education

the least

medium global market today and its


damage not focus in the long on Indian run will needs. be to India,

of instruction is English. The


because such education will

22

Design Issues: Volume 21, Number4 Autumn2005

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