Design Thinking“ How it all started for me ? “Raindrops and footprints: Reflections on Design, talk by Professor M.P. RanjanProfessor M.P. Ranjan has been associated with National Institute of Design since the 1970s. Thetalk furnished me with the opportunity to reflect on the language of Design.Design is a system of associated elements; the process is largely dictated by a purpose behind anyform of action. Systems thinking can be taken as a metaphor for Design, its correlation with activitytheory is thought provoking, it asserts comprehensible intentions and actions that create value.Design Intentions are influenced by beliefs, faith and tacit knowledge.Activity theory by Yrjo Engestrom is a framework that enables anyone to pursue any activity with aspecific purpose in mind. The three interacting entities, the individual (subject), the object-(purpose)and the community, work together in order to mediate social action. This school of thoughtdenounces , the very isolation of the human being as the only component of analysis, instead itpropagates human activity via social interaction. This close interaction with the environment leads tothe manifestation of tools; which transforms and carry out the activity with social context amongstthe social strata (division of labour) in the system. Balance of activities is kept under check throughcodes and guidelines of the social behaviour.Design may not be purely limited to aesthetics; it caters to the macro level of functionality, whichcan be devised not just via considering material, form and structure but ethnographical issues,historical remnants and cultural entities. Design essentially functions in order to contribute in thearea of problem solving.Application of Principles of Design largely includes humility, attention to details, semiotics, context-traditions, values and ethics which I look forward to incorporate in my thinking process. I would liketo conclude by a quote by Prof. Ranjan, “Design is conviction driven”.The question in mind is:What is a Good or appropriate Design?Professor Sethu Raman, Product DesignerDiscussion held by Professor Sethu Raman was mainly about how does one perceive Design? Webeing designers, how do we look at things and perceive the same?Design comes with baggage of emotions and senses, which enables embodied experience, givingbirth to the experiential self. There is an ongoing battle between ego and desire; ego signifies zest to
seek pleasure where as desire fulfilment is a Design consequence illuminating the experientialphenomena.Human beings always work towards the fulfilment of the desires, consequently, we rely on thevirtual world, because we tend to satisfy our needs through the virtual reality, in order to fill up thegaps for the needs which nature fails to gratify. The elements of Design, behind designing anyproduct are planning- which acts as the core of design, Object-which acts as the universe and thetechnology which is the foremost instrument. Amidst the machine world, design enables us to beliberated from the control of technology, because essentially it is the tool which moulds a productand not otherwise.We live in the age of information revolution, where designers have managed to free themselvesfrom the constraints, with the help of fruits of technology.Bauhaus school of Design initiated the design movement throughout the world, they aimed atoffering design learning, and they believed design sensitivity can be acquired through thecurriculum. They taught the very grammar of visual language, and to master these principles ofdesign, design education was essential.Being part of the creative intelligentsia, it is expected to utilise the right side of the brain, where aswith designers, there should be an effective collaboration between left and right side of the brain,since right side resorts to experience and left side focuses on the lateral thinking, this collaborativethinking gives birth to co- creation.The question in mind is:What is a Good or appropriate Design?Professor Gajanan Upadhaya, furniture designerThe session by Professor Gajanan Upadhaya was very enlightening, as it was entirely based on hispersonal experience as a designer.Design is not discipline restricted, its essentially about problem solving and offering effectivesolutions that are conducive to functionality. The understanding of system and the whole processinvolved in any product making, though self discretion should be exercised while making certaindecisions involving techniques and materials etc.Design is cohesive, we tend to go back to our foundations, since change is the only constant, andthere is a constant need to redesign. Design is not free from emotional quotient or passion. Thoughevery designer should be able to critique his work devoid of any bias, one should be into selfintrospection, whether you like your product or not.Every product has a story to tell, a particular designers personality traits, his own beliefs, taste andpreferences are evident in every creation.
Product viability cannot be ignored; structural logic is quintessential for product to be functional.Perseverance as a characteristic is important for any designer, since there can be failure, trial anderrors before reaching the desired consequence.The question in mind is:What is a Good or appropriate Design?Date: June 2010Objectified, film by Gary HustwitEvery Object has a narrative, it speaks about itself, the moment we see an object, a montage ofvisuals runs through our minds and we end up making certain assumptions.The movie talks about the complex relationship between simple objects to complex gadgets, andhow designers re- evaluate, re- design and re- establish new products into our lives. The gravequestion I derive from the film is how these products have a lot of relevance in our lives thoughtaken for granted at the same time?As part of the appreciation, its important for every consumer to understand how a particularproduct has been crafted and utilised effectively, to exploit its functionality fully.Every object is tangible, with multiple intangible features, abstract expression is visualised into aconcrete form, and it is an act of transforming a creative thought into a physical form. HenceObjectified.The question in mind is:What is a Good or appropriate Design?Helvetica, film by Gary HustwitA film with reference to typography, graphic design and visual culture. Helvetica is one typeface, hasbeen enormously popular for about 50 years since its inception in 1957 by Max Miedinger withEduard Hoffmann in Münchenstein, Switzerland.The visuals of the film, begins with the markets,billboards, typographical relevance and how it has managed to be an important part of our lives. Thevery association with a particular colour and font is the mode of communication through which theyleave a firm impact on our minds and dictate our lives around them. Introduced amidst popularity,Helvetica quickly absorbed into the word of communication through signage, corporate logos etc.Post sixties, a major revolution in the field of graphics took place, there was a transformation fromstereotype face of Helvetica- font with aesthetic relevance to font with social responsibility, as theneed for more democratic signage system was felt. Typography became all about creating order,
ambiguity was avoided and more emphasis was laid on the content of the text other than just on theappearance. Attention to details, such as inter relationship of figure and space was kept intoaccount.Post Vietnam War, Helvetica was associated as the staunch and frozen typeface, attention wasdiverted to more free spirited type face which experimented with palette and expressed subjectivityand context through typography for example Grunge type face, neutral type face etc.At the dawn of the nineties, the simplicity in typography was being missed, and the popularity ofHelvetica was re-established.Fonts may be the most under-appreciated facet of design, at least with the universal community.Few people give much thought to fonts or the role of fonts in good design, but a good font is key tomaking any design work (if it contains text). Fonts are critical to just about any design (except,perhaps, for designs that dont use words and letters at all). I understand Typography is aboutmessage as much as form: a letters density, its arcs and points, even its placement can convey tone,spirit or mood.The question in mind is:What is a Good or appropriate Design?Rivers and Tides, a film by Thomas RiedelsheimarThe film is on the British Land artist, sculptor, photographer, Andy Goldsworthy, who creates andaccessorizes the surroundings with the elements of nature, mostly organic forms that can bemoulded into art forms such as leaves, rocks, icicles, wood, flowers, and depict magnificence of thenature. They can be temporary or permanent forms, deriving the inspiration from its surroundingsand blending perfectly within.His concept mostly revolves around the organic forms representing concentricity, structure, idea offluidity and form in nature. The most interesting aspect of his work is that it transforms with time,for instance art form with flowers or leaves will interpret into different state in due course of time. Itreflects the very sense of wonder and an nearly humming force of nature permeates his work and ispart of its draw. since the materials used are so ordinary, the transformations, taken to extremes,become greatly extraordinary.Can art be empowering?. The Idea of an art piece that cannot be confined to the walls of a museum,purchased by wealthy collectors, or displayed in a corporate foyer or boardroom – for the reasonthat it disintegrates in less than a day, perhaps even within 20 seconds and gets personified intotactile layers of the environment, be it water or soil.
While fascinated by his symbiosis with the landscape, it also leaves me exasperated that today fewlandscape architects work around the same ideology, but find it necessary to function perpetuallytowards creation of projects aimed to outlast time, and fight against the gestures of nature.His characteristic of perseverance is commendable.The question in mind is: What is a Good or appropriate Design?What is considered a good design? Tracing relations of conceptual design to anti-design, ratherthan prescribing a practice on the basis of theoretical considerations, these critical practices seem tobuild an intellectual basis for design on the basis of its own modes of operation.Good Design would be that identifies the needs of the people, which is for the people, by thepeople, that combines empathy, creativity with rationality to meet the needs of the end user.The overall experience of these discussions and the documentaries was enlightening in terms ofprinciples of design, sustainable design practises; I would like to incorporate this thought into mydesign process.Discontent is prime for any object to be redesigned, hence re-evaluation is continuous.I was moved by the thought of Design little, application of minimalistic approach in my practiceconsidering the context, ethnographical issues would be the first step towards responsible designpractice. Designers can work as anthropologists or should rather.