Over the past few weeks, a lot has been talked about the latest winning design of the I-mark on online groups and social networks. In short: The earlier design that was chosen by the Indian Design Council (IDC) was rejected by designers at large. But, coincidentally the new logo is not very different from the older version. Designers again have raised their voices against it. And the IDC has put its foot down saying this is what it is.
The IDC plans to confer the marking on certain products, services, objects and works that conform to the process and standards set by it to ‘define good in the concept of good design’. So, when there is a debate on whether the design of the mark itself is ‘good’ or not, it makes one wonder on the processes and standards thus defined to elevate good design. Something the IDC should consider.
Also, look at it from a global perspective. An I-mark is officially launched globally at the inauguration of the Japanese Good Design Exhibition at the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), in March 2011, and is raved about by the jury and IDC members. YET, back home, another competition is set up because of dissent from the design community in India. And the eventual result is not very different from the earlier version, creating more angst amongst the designers, who have been openly critical about the design and the jury.
Whether the criticism is right or not is not the question, nor is the process of selection the important factor here. What is important is that the image of India and Indian designers gets across as a very confused or controversial entity thanks to this back-n-forth movement. And do we need this bad publicity?
The second point to ponder upon is ‘Why is there a dissent?’. It’s not that the design community has anything against competitions or people winning those competitions. Nor is there any disrespect to the idea of the I-mark and the IDC members. Yet the furore. Why?
Perhaps the designers could have been more participative in the competition, but then why did they not? There were only 200 entries received. Was there was no proper communication and outreach? The amount of comments after the launch of the I-mark is a good indicator of the interest the designers have in this competition. Therefore, the lack of participation needs to be explored by the IDC.
Amongst the shortlisted 13, the winning design is the best, no doubt of it. But this only when you compare the shortlisted entries.
The IDC could have worked along side a body like ADI, which represents designers from India and put together the competition for the I-mark – this would have surely gotten in more entries, and a good representation from the design industry. And also less criticism. More importantly, this would have come across as an inclusive exercise that every designer would have wanted to be part of and have pride in working for. After all, an I-mark is not something that can come top down, but has to come from within the design community to succeed.
And if the designers seem to have a problem with the I-mark design and the competition, then perhaps it is because of an underlying current of non-transparency, exclusiveness and no real connect between the IDC and the designers- a fact that the IDC should realise and act towards, especially if it wants this mark be treated and accepted as the stamp of good design.
– Darpana Athale.