Updated: March 10, 2012 09:51 IST

“Responsible design is my agenda”

Preeti Mehra
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Prof Pradyumna Vyas
Prof Pradyumna Vyas

Director of National Institute of Design Pradyumna Vyas on the role design is set to play in India

Design is slowly moving to centre stage to occupy its rightful position in all facets of development -- policy, products, social schemes, education and the arts. One of those in the forefront of the movement is Prof. Pradyumna Vyas, Director of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. With over 27 years of professional and teaching experience and in NID for the past 22 years, Vyas has always had a special interest in design for social and sustainable development.

Today, he has his finger in many pies. Apart from heading NID, he has been involved with the Asia Design Network, International Council of Societies of Industrial Design and is Member Secretary at the recently constituted India Design Council.

In a freewheeling interview with The Hindu, he talks about the key interventions being made to take design to another level nationally, regionally, in small industry, and craft.

The latest from the design world is the concept of India Design Mark being promoted by the India Design Council. I understand that this means companies will be certified for their ethical and innovative design policies. How will this be of help to the consumer?

I-Mark will play a big role in the future. It recognises the good design practices in an industry. For instance, products with this certification will consume less energy, be ethically produced, and economically priced. When the consumer sees the I-mark he or she will know that it is a good product that can be trusted. For this we are being helped by Japan's G-mark which has over 50 years of experience in such certification with 37,000 products in its kitty.

NID has been working with small industry for some time now through Design Clinics. How much has been achieved in this sphere?

We came up with the Design Clinics concept many years ago and now it has come to the scale that it has the potential to unleash a design movement in the country. It has been doing rather well. The target is to have 200 products in the next two years where important design modifications have been made. We have completed 180 out of our target of 200 awareness programmes on design across the country, helping industry associations to understand the importance of design intervention so that the impact goes a long way. The feedback we have got is that the clinics have helped SMEs improve the design of their products immensely.

Design education is also being given a new thrust. Is NID involved in any of the new design schools that the government has announced?

Yes, there are going to be four new NIDs and work has already started on some of them. The first one is in Jorhat, Assam; the second is to come up in Hyderabad; the third in Bhopal and the fourth will be in Haryana, though the location has not been finalised yet. These will become functional during XIIth Five-Year Plan.

With so many new design schools on the anvil, how are you possibly going to find faculty for all of them?

It's true we need to build faculty. There is a big crunch, but we have to find the ways and means. We are working on a faculty development programme where the target is to be able to provide 50 to 100 designers per year. We also have an online design education programme where we will provide online lectures by common faculty. This should help to fill the gap.

What is it that makes NID different from other institutions?

Our biggest strength has been that being under the DIPP we have had autonomy in experimenting. This has helped us in building contextual relevance in the classroom. Our graduates pass out as confident people who can start their own businesses. We have also succeeded in providing socially responsible design education. I have only one agenda – responsible design – and that is the agenda of NID too. We hope to have the same model in the NIDs coming up in the future.

What will be the main thrust of NID in the next decade?

Apart from promoting responsible and socially relevant design in a big way in the country, we will also be linking up with neighbouring countries as well as African countries. We are working with five African countries and Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. With all of them we are working on craft and design development, to improve the livelihood of women involved in craft making. In Africa we are working with Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia and Uganda on basketry. This will also help in linking our markets and building bilateral relations.

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