India, Designed

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Dekho: Conversations on Design in India is a new anthology of “inspirational conversations with designers in India, probing their stories for cues to the development of design in India and highlighting approaches unique for designing in India.” I wrote a foreword (a portion of which is below). You can find samples of the book, which was edited and designed by Codesign, here. The paradox of having an international conversation in a journal makes this either a courageous or foolhardy project. But I am very impressed with the quality of the images and the words, and even more committed to this method of idea sharing.

When Rajesh Dahiya asked me to contribute this brief introduction to Dehko, I felt like I was invited on a journey beyond anywhere I have ever traveled. In truth. . . . My only point of reference for the Indian design field is work that I’d seen come out of the National Institute of Design in the Seventies. At the time, I was bored by orthodox Modernisn in America. Helvetica had taken the joy out of design. Swiss design fit like a glove into the austere stereotype. Corporate America had co-opted the Typographic International Style for the same reason the CIA embraced Abstract Expressionism – it was safe. Modernism had lost its radical raison d’etre as Abstract Expressionism had become institutionalized. I may be very wrong, I know designers who would not be where they are today were it not for NID. But I have also seen work that convinced me the National Institute of Design fell for the trappings of the modernism, while the products of Modernism, in fact, were not as good.Dehko offers me, at least, a different view and more hopeful feeling. It incorporates rather than segregates, it embraces rather than pushes away. It accepts the old and new, the modern and vernacular – in short it seeks to harness the power of design through the joy of design. When Rajesh asked me to write my thoughts, I thought this is a link to foreign culture and fellow designer. The only difference between us is water and air (and perhaps the color of our hair). More publishing efforts like this, which passionately and honestly confront stereotypes through eclectic and eccentric belief should occur in the world. They may just bring us together, if only for a moment.