The I-mark

new logo

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.


4 thoughts on “The I-mark

  1. Very interesting points there, Darpana.

    Your query as to why most designers kept away from participating and are now up in arms about the logo selected, is akin to most of educated persons NOT voting during elections but spending hours on bad-mouthing the winner. There is a deeper malaise at work here, which generation after generation, consolidates itself. Like corruption.

    It is undemocratic to say the least.


  2. But…
    Delhi High court allows RTI activist Mr. Rakesh Kumar Singh to file PIL against “Indian Rupee symbol selection process”.

    Mr. Rakesh Kumar Singh had submitted a LPA petition in the Delhi High Court challenging Delhi HC earlier judgment in which court had refused to entertain his petition challenging selection process of New Indian Rupee Symbol.

    After hearing the LPA, Hon’ble Chief Justice and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjiv Khanna of Delhi High Court in their judgment said “We learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant submitted that he may be permitted to withdraw the appeal as he really does not have the grievance solely because the symbol has not been accepted but he intends to challenge the procedural aspects which are adopted by the Union of India at various levels relating to such kind of works which affect various provisions of the Official Languages Act and many other provisions of various statutes as well as Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

    If we understand the submission of Mr. Sawhney in a proper perspective, he wants to file a petition in the larger public interest.

    In view of the aforesaid, we are inclined to permit the withdrawal of the appeal with liberty to file a Public Interest Litigation with the appropriate pleadings and data which are necessary to sustain a Public Interest Litigation.” Order: LPA 310/2011

    News source ..

  3. IDC Exposed :

    There was no jury really. Before the IDC meeting, Shrikant Nivasarkar and I were asked to help short list the designs at a short notice. We did some screening and the list was presented to the IDC, which selected what was unanimously felt as the best.

    I am shocked to see the new logo which has been introduced amid anticipation. Both the previous and the new I-mark identities have proved once again that even today, you put a red dot even on cow dung; it (the dot) can successfully sell it (the logo) as a brand identity for anything that is Indian,” said Ahmedabad-based eminent graphic designer Subroto Bhowmick.

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