India Design Forum -- a new platform to change perceptions

Though awareness of design as a concept distinct from art is taking shape, it has still not come of age. In India the two are mostly considered part of the same unit – an impression that India Design Forum (IDF) seeks to change.

IDF, the new platform for design disciplines across architecture, fashion, interiors, products, graphic design and more, is poised to make its debut next week

It is the brainchild of collector, architect and designer Rajshree Pathy who runs The Coimbatore Centre for Contemporary Arts. She plans to do it in style across different venues in Delhi from March 2-10.

“We in India take designs very lightly. While design is everything, it is not elitist, luxurious, fashionable or a product -- it is the way we think,” says Rajshree asserting that the idea is to explore and discuss the power of design. “It is only powerful thinking on design that has made Apple a world-wide product, which is simplistic and highly useful,” she says emphasising the difference between art and design. “Art cannot be functional while another name for design is utility.” Design without a purpose is useless, Rajshree points out holding a tea cup with floral motif as an example. “It is first a design, then a utility product. It is not art.”

Rajshree feels that a casual attitude to design in India is why we have as many design schools as can be counted on the fingers, while China has 400 schools of design. Even India's National Design Policy was formulated only in 2007. “Our IT experts are designing for foreign countries, why can't India's corporate houses employ them to design for our own country?” she asks.

IDF aims to explore what can be done to take design to a level where it not only creates job opportunities for designers in the country, but also takes India to a level where its designs become a global brand. To make it more inclusive, hence, “Visualizing Marathon” a competitive workshop for students with leading designers would be conducted where they would deal with real, complex world issues and work towards solutions through the medium of visualization apart from Show Your Design contest. The concluding programme, a Trend Union Seminar will focus on next year's trends and challenges.

“I wish to see ‘created in India' brands become the hot pick of people across the globe,” reasons Rajshree. IDF's week-long programme of curated design events around the Capital include exhibitions at leading design studios and art galleries, design walks, a vintage car rally, workshops and film screenings, many of which will be open to the public.

IDF will include a two-day programme of talks by renowned speakers from diverse fields of design including Mr Sam Patroda, Chairman of the National Innovation Council, fashion designer Manish Arora, Tunisian designer Tom Dixon, Paola Antonelli, a senior curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, India born Amsterdam-based industrial designer Satyendra Pukhale, among others.

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