As business leaders and investors descend on Mumbai for the Make In India Week, among the talking points is how a better design culture can be nurtured to enable growth of the manufacturing sector in India.
This conversation is being led by the India Design Forum (IDF) 2016 which, in its third edition, has been co-opted into the Make In India campaign’s plan to showcase the potential of design, innovation and sustainability across India’s manufacturing sector.
Rajshree Pathy, Chairperson and Managing Director of Rajshree Sugars and Chemicals Ltd and founder of IDF, explained, “Design is not merely about clothes, shoes, handbags and jewellery, as is commonly believed. Those are incidental. Design is, in fact, at the
heart of the manufacturing process. It is not a ‘thing’, it is a way of thinking.”
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The IDF’s agenda, she said, is to show how manufacturingcan be given an edge and how it can be made empowering through the use of design innovations.
The IDF was conceived in 2012 with the aim of highlighting the movements in Indian design, encompassing the different industries — fashion, furniture, textile, industrial, product and architecture — that involve design. As an ancillary event of the Make In India Week, the IDF will take place on February 17.
Changes can happen only when the design culture is well-established in India, said Pathy. Public policy needs to push for better design infrastructure, which includes educational institutes, hubs and communities where designers and innovators can come up with solutions that not only bring in efficiency and sustainability, but also suit India’s requirements.
According to Satyendra Pakhale, an Amsterdam-based award-winning designer, the Tata Nano is a good example of Indian design, which combined engineering innovations with a careful consideration for the demands of the domestic market. In fact, one of India’s most famous qualities — jugaad — is indicative of an innovative mindset, said Pakhale.
Dismissing the perception of design being an ‘elitist’ notion, Pakhale said, “We must not forget good design is for the wider population — accessible and widely distributed.”
Simran Lal, CEO of Good Earth, added, “It’s important that we bring rural design and India’s rural design communities along on this journey. We need to address scalability and invest in training and development on a large scale, without forgetting that an artisan is an artist who cannot be trained or treated like a factory worker. At the economic, social and cultural level, we are impoverished when we devalue our crafts, the wellspring of our creativity provider of livelihood to millions of men and women.”