‘Design Challenges in Indian Cities’ – a panel discussion.

ADI_Pune Chapter is launched.

Varied panelists, 60+ attendees and a very participative discussion.

The celebrations of World Industrial Designers Day in Pune and the launch of the Pune chapter of  the Association of Designers of India (ADI) , was followed by a serious discussion on how design can and should change, add value and be integral to a city. Designers, architects, urban planners, people heading NGOs all stepped up to give their views on the topic ‘Design Challenges in Indian Cities’.

On the panel were renowned Architect & Designer Shrikant Nivasarkar, who was chairing the discussion, Textile designer Chandrashekar Bheda, who had from Delhi to be part of this session; Architect and industrial designer Anand Belhe; Janwaani Director Kishori Gadre, Industrial Designer Pankaj Sapkal and Architect Shirish Kembhavi. Their discussions were further given another perspective by Industrial designer Satish Gokhale; and Satish Khot, President-NSCC, Pune.  Designer Nachiket Thakur was co-ordinating the entire session.

The panelists

IIID_Pune Regional Chapter supported the event, because of which there were many architects and interior designers present in the audience leading to different viewpoints from fields apart from Industrial Design.

Viewpoints of the Panelists:
Shrikant Nivasarkar:

  • It is important to form a collaborative team and take the design activities further.
  • Design, planning, interventions….all of this or rather design should come from within if we want to do something for the city- a sense of participation and ownership is required.
  • When we talk of ‘creating an image of a city’… globalisation will bring dynamic changes in emerging cities, is design or are designers ready for these changes?
  • Quoting Kumar Vyas, “Chandigarh and NID were good initiatives and great intentions, but went on different tracks- they never came together”.  How do we safeguard or work towards sustaining great initiatives?
  • India’ strength lies in its diversity. How do we maintain that diversity/individuality?
  • Context to People and Context of Environment- both are key issues for designers.

Kishori Gadre:

  • Design interventions are needed for different projects and places within the social fabric of the city. And these interventions are required right from the household level to that of the urban scale.
  • Case study – Garbage disposal, zero garbage zones which required industrial design help, provided by Onio Design.
  • In cities, the ‘pain’ is divided into large numbers and therefore no one knows what they want.
  • Designers need to come forward and work on different issues.

Shirish Kembhavi:

  • There is ‘design’ at every step in an urban environment or space, but does it really contribute?
  • A space can be turned into a place only thru design interventions.
  • There is a need to demonstrate a ‘design value’.
  • Housing is very important…can we create a house that costs under a lakh of rupees?

Pankaj Sapkal:

  • Awareness needs to be created foremost.
  • Some systems cannot be changed easily- change needs to start at individual levels.
  • A food and water crisis is being predicted and is imminent and that we need to prepare for it right now, at the individual level.

Chandrashekhar Bheda:

  • Regional identity is being forgotten.
  • People are working in isolation, macro level thinking and working needs to be done.
  • Newer idioms can be formed through collaborative efforts.
  • We are in a hurry to become ‘global’,  but we are forgetting to be local or regional.

Anand Belhe:

  • What makes a city?
  • Mixed usage of city areas/Migration/Systems/Planning
  • Adaptability/ Flexibility to change
  • Human scale- is it comfortable?
  • No planned approch – all individuals are looking at their own work.
  • Permeability within a city?
  • Is the city for cars or for people?
  • Carbon foot prints? -Ac environments everywhere, causing more damage- and this is only because of architects.
  • There is a disparity between the rich and the poor.
  • Growing local food is a necessity. – Half of the food going to Mumbai is wasted. Why? Is it bad transportation or packaging?
  • How is the movement in a city?
  • Can we standardise certain elements to improve productivity and economic conditions? China is a good example of standardisation.
  • Design and architecture are basically very similar, with same principles.

Expert comments:
Satish Gokhale:

  • Sometimes design may work successfully as a stand-alone product, but might fail when taken in consideration with a larger context.
  • We need to create products keeping in mind the larger picture and who/what/how it affects our immediate environment.

Satish Khot:

  • It is important to create awareness of design at the general public level.
  • Can we create something aesthetic that allows every homemaker to create a zero-garbage disposal system at home itself? Perhaps a planter which can also recycle all the waste into manure.
The audiences’ viewpoints:
  • This is a good initiative, and perhaps ADI can be a body that solves issues at the common man’s level.
  • Why can’t designers be on the administrative levels in a city? When we can have city engineers, why not a city architect or designer?
  • There is a lot of work that is being done at an individual level, which needs to be acknowledged, learnt from and also shared.
  • Issues like garbage disposal do not always require Industrial design. If we can come out with solutions wherein the garbage does not leave the society but gets converted into useful manure, then the process of having these garbage bags collected to bringing them into a truck and then offloading can be deleted.
  • An identity of a city can be created through simple means also- eg: Jodhpur, with an all-white scheme for its housing.
  • Need to educate people on design.
  • It is time that design is not looked as something that needs to come as an afterthought or at the end of a product cycle or for finding a solution to a single problem.  Design needs to come at the beginning, especially for social and city-level projects.
  • There is a strong builder lobby in Pune- they need to come for such forums and together proposals should be created for the city. Ditto for administrative personnel.
  • Need to increase public utility services and come together to work on finding solutions for the city.
  • Case studies need to be created that demonstrate design values, which could be showcased to create awareness. Start small so we can learn from the experience.

One of the highlights of this Panel discussion was the fact that Shrikant Nivasarkar, who is also the President of the Pune Construction Engineering Research Foundation (PCERF) has offered a space for design and good case studies, in the interest of the city, to be showcased during the CONSTRO exhibition in January 2012, in Pune.

The audience and the panelists took back a lot from this event- great insights, motivation to think, to do and make it happen, understanding the need for collaboration and identifying areas to work in… apart from an interesting bookmark in stainless steel from the ‘oneliner’ range by Sarvasva Designs, books from CMYK and an event sponsored by LUXUS.
Compiled and written by Darpana Athale, Sarvasva Designs.


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