Tag Archives: design

Design cycle

Here is a diagram, that is my understanding, till date, of the basic process of design. It could be anything from designing an airport, to making  a dress.



Dashrath Patel

Today a very inspiring person came to NID and spoke to us. It was none other than Dashrath Patel, the amazing painter, designer, sculptor, thinker, and above all, just an amazing human being. Truly humble, genuine, and from the heart. We first saw a movie about him, about an exhibition of his works at NGMA, Delhi sometime in 1998. The body of work he has produced in his lifetime is amazing. The objects and works of art were so simple and functional. But more than the movie, it was seeing him in person and hearing him speak. He shared some experiences of his life.

There is no design today. Today design is stylization. It is no longer in the context, and does not deal with the needs of the people. In the sixties, design was born out of the needs of the people.
When he was young, they doing a project for India Post, the post offices, they had a problem, that when they went to villages, the people were not ready to speak to them. He spoke about how to become a part of the village. When they went to the villages, all the doors were closed. He and his friends sat down and started eating. An old woman came out of the house, and he asked her for water. She said no, because she was of the harijan (low) caste, and no one would drink water from them. He asked “Do you drink water?” and she replies yes she did. Then he said, if you can drink, then so can I. She still said no. Then he asked her, do you digest the water? She said yes. Then he said, so can I, so give me some water. So she got him a pot of water. It was in Kutch and the water tasted terrible, bitter, and they had to walk twenty miles to get their water. But while drinking it, he was sensitive enough not show his disgust, as that would have hurt her. They asked them if they could read and write, and he said yes, so they got their letters to him to read out to them. He realized that the old woman was a talented poet, who could write beautifully. And so the village slowly opened its doors to them.

When I was young I waited for hours on the streets of Mumbai to see a car besides a fiat or ambassasdor. Today I see only foreign cars; we have become a dumping ground for outdated western culture. The developed world is dumping its defunct designs on us, and we think we are becoming developed.

In America once upon a time it was a thing of pride, that every person had a car. If that happens in India there will be no place to park, let alone drive. It is so true that we are becoming a consumerist society. We have to look at peoples’ needs. Earlier design was done for peoples’ needs, now it seems to be done for people’s greed and money. Earlier, for example, you bought a watch for thousand rupees, and it told you the time. Today the watch is for twenty thousand rupees, and it still just tells you the time. This is so true. India is unfortunately blindly copying all the things of the West, and we equate globalization with progress. This is going to be a horrible mistake.

The developed world has reached a bottleneck, and there is no further to go. But in India today there is still a small chance that we can change that.

The bullock cart at NID is over two hundred years old and was brought to NID by Dashrath. It is unique in that the wheels don’t have an axle. They move inwards and outwards depending on the roughness of the road. Sometimes the job of a designer is not to design, not to try and be creative, or be ‘different’. Sometimes, some things are perfectly designed for their purpose like the bullock cart, and our job is to just uphold that example of design.

Knowledge is not to manage but to use and inspire. So why call the library ‘knowledge management centre’.

In his young days he went to study in Prague and also lived in France. He never learnt the French language, and used to communicate when he had to by scribbling, and making small visuals.

The beauty of our country is the small things that people do, the way the fruit seller arranges his fruit,

It was amazing to see the man who was one of the founders of NID. The body of knowledge he has, the experience, and the humility endear him to one and all. Looking forward to more interaction with him on Monday.

‘About Alphabets’

About Alphabets – Some Marginal Notes on type design by Hermann Zapf

The M.I.T. Press, Cambridge/Mass. And London, England

The humble size and unassuming cover of this book reflect the character of the author, Hermann Zapf, in that he is not one to shout about the work he has done, even though his accomplishments in the field of type design and calligraphy are unparalleled. The book is a simple autobiography of one of the greatest graphic and type designers of our time.

Written in the first person, the book is an interesting account of his early beginnings, and his development. Being trained in the old school of type design – when letters were drawn by hand and then manually cut out of metal blocks – he provides interesting insights and observations that would rarely occur to modern day typographers and graphic designers. For example, the kind of metal used to engrave out the letters was of prime importance, and it was a relief when lead was introduced, as it lent itself to re-soldering, and new bits and pieces could be fused into the original block of the letter if too much had been cut off. Continue reading

Looking at the Art of Looking Sideways

‘What use is a book…without pictures or conversations?’ asked Alice.

The very first page of the book questions its own existence with this question. Every time you open it you experience a different part of it, and the experience is never the same. You can dip into this mighty book at any time for inspiration, recreation, learning or relaxation.

It’s a design book without being a design book, because it’s about everything except design. There are innumerable tidbits of information, covering history, science, the human body and the animal kingdom. There are also sayings from ancient philosophers and modernists, jokes, anecdotes and visual puns.

The book has successfully broken out of the structure of a typical ‘book’ both in its content and its visual presentation, without causing total anarchy. All these varied bits of knowledge are not compartmentalized into rigid sections, but rub shoulders with each other which make browsing through this volume an enriching experience. Continue reading

MoMA + design

I really experienced the value of design, and the importance of a designer when I visited the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. The museum is home to several pieces of modern art, and photography. The shop however, takes art to another level with its exquisitely designed books, knick-knacks, stationery, furniture, jewelery, accessories, and lighting. Each piece is functional, aesthetic, and simply unique. It is obvious that considerable thought has been given to each one, and much effort into it perfect production. It is amazing to see the products and ideas that can be inspired from paintings.

One of the more fascinating products is called liquid cardboard. It is a series of vases made out of paper in with a honeycomb structure. This allows the vase to collapse into itself and be reversed or molded into unusual shapes. Whoever feels that design is not art should visit this store. Here it is art and much more.