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India wakes up to the power of design

India hosts its first major design summit to set the pace for Indian design on the global stage.

art and culture Updated: Feb 24, 2012 00:30 IST
Shara Ashraf
Shara Ashraf
Hindustan Times

The world’s biggest names in design, such as Paola Antonelli, Lidewij Edelkoort and Karim Rashid head to Delhi next week, for the India Design Forum, the country’s first major design summit, powered by Hindustan Times. The Coimbatore Centre for Contemporary Arts (CoCCA) will present the design extravaganza at Le Meridian, New Delhi. At the forum, the contemporary design think tank will explore the future of design and its impact on society across all creative industries such as as art, architecture, fashion, interiors and graphics.

Creativity loaded week
The forum will kick off with Design Week that goes on from March 2 to March 8. There will be plenty of excitement to lap up, from movie screenings, exhibitions and workshops hosted around the city. The trail culminates into the Design Forum that will have two days of talks (March 9 - March 10) by contemporary design think tanks from across the world.

Rajshree Pathy, founder, CoCA, says, “The event is an attempt to find India’s lost creativity and breaking mindsets that find design as a concept to be elitist, decoration or luxury.” While India is a huge consumer of design, there isn’t much understanding of good design, adds Pathy. “The forum aims to establish a social consciousness for the need for creative education, thinking and practice in the country,” she says.

For design students
The Show Your Design contest will see young designers present their interpretations of the letter ‘D’, from the IDF logo, across themes such as textile, product and space design, and multidisciplinary design. There will be a winner every week, who’ll get two free tickets to the conference.

Another event, The Visualizing Marathon, will be held on March 2-3 at the India International Centre. It will challenge students to pick up a complex, real life issue and work out a solution through data visualisation. Some of the participating institutions are IIT (Mumbai, Delhi and Guwahati), NID, Sushant School of Art and Architecture and Delhi University colleges.

On March 10, Lidewiz Edelkoort will talk on the future trends in fashion and art design, spelling out the trends for Spring/Summer ’13 and beyond, at Le Meridian. (To participate, log on to

Names to watch out for
The two-day conference will have global design leaders explore India’s role in the future of designLidewijEdelkoort

Trend forecaster
This Dutch-born trend forecaster foretells concepts, colours and materials that’ll be in vogue two or more years in advance. The founder of Paris-based Trend Union, a trend forecasting company, Li is named as one of the 25 most influential fashion experts by Times magazine. Li’s over 1,500-plus international clients include Nissan, Coca-Cola, Donna Karan, Old Navy, Gucci, Estée Lauder, Lancôme, and Shiseido. She also brings out dazzling trend publications such as Bloom, View in Colour and Interior View. With her slicked-back hair and trademark bright red lips, she is quite a trend-setter when it comes to fashion too.

Alex White, Artist
A young artist and urban planner, this New Yorker started Artefacting, a collaborative of international artists and urbanists that advocate the rights of marginalised communities through artistic interventions. With the Artefacting Mumbai project, White and his team changed the way people looked at Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum. He gave art classes to slum children and used discarded art to paint the Mumbai slum with lively murals. White has taken up several art projects in Queens, New York, Detroit, Rome and Norway. His work is in private collections in the USA, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway and India. He also exhibits regularly in New York City.

Paola Antonelli, Art curator
She believes MoMA must have a Boeing 747 in its collection. Rated as one of the top 100 most powerful people in the world of art by Art Review, Paula Antonelli is senior curator in the department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City. She has curated several architecture and design exhibitions in Italy, France, and Japan. She has worked on shows such as Humble Masterpieces, which celebrated mundane objects such as band-aids and paper clips, and the pathbreaking Safe: Design Takes on Risk (2005), which had products and prototypes that protect from perilous situations like earthquakes and terrorist attacks.

Manish Arora, Fashion designer
God of kitsch and psychedelics, Manish is often called as India’s John Galliano. His designs have been worn by likes of singers Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry and model Heidi Klum. In early 2011, he became the creative director of the womenswear collection of the French fashion house Paco Rabanne. He came up with Fish Fry, a peppy sportswear brands in 2001, teaming up with Reebok. In 2004, he was awarded the Best Women's Prêt Designer at the first Indian Fashion Awards held in Mumbai. Arora participated in the Miami Fashion Week in May 2005, where he won the designer’s choice for Best Collection Award.

Satyendra Pakhale,Industrial designer
The Amsterdam-based industrial designer’s client list has names such as Bosa, Colombo Design, and Magis. He calls
himself a cultural nomad. His works are in public collections, including Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The India-born IIT alumnus’ career took off working as a senior product designer for Philips in Netherlands, where he designed the interior for the concept-car Pangéa. Among his acclaimed works are the fish chair that he designed in his signature logo-like shape for the Italian design manufacturing company Cappellini and The B.M. Horse Chair, a limited-edition piece made of bronze, inspired by a horse’s form.

Other key speakers
Adam bly, Founder and CEO, Seed Media Group, Canada

Subodh Gupta,Artist
Armando Branchini,Executive director, Fondazione Altagamma, trade body of 74 Italian luxury brands

Birjit Lohman, co-founder and editor, Designboom, Italy
Christopher Lee, Founder- principal, Serie,UK, and Design Critic,
Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Jan chipchase,Executive Creative Director, Global Insights, Frog Design, USA
Justin McGuirk,Design critic, The Guardian
Jitish Kallat ,Artist
Kamal nath,Minister of Urban Development, Indian Government
Michael Anastassiades, Industrial designer, London

The Design trail
Whether you’re a vintage car lover or an art film buff, there will be plenty of creative activities for all

Inauguration of Jagannath Panda’s mural — Meeting the History, the largest work of his career, at the Hindustan Times building:

March 2
Presentation of work using stone, hand blown glass and metal by designers Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth at Klove Studios, Green

Park: March 3
An interactive design installation presented by Infonauts, information and graphic design firm, at their studio at Hauz Khas Village:

March 5
Boutique visit to Shivan and Narresh, luxury beachwear brand at 12, Hauz Khas Village: March 5
Varya that offers contemporary furniture will organise a workshop with artisans from Rajasthan for young designers and students:

March 6
Presentation of new products by Puru Das at The Urbanist Studio, Jor Bagh: March 7
Screening of art films, video and sound installation by BLOT at The Palette Art Gallery, Golf Links : March 7
Vintage Car Rally escorted by Hayabusa Suzuki bikes starting from Le Meridien, around Lutyen’s Delhi: March 10

Other global design events
Design Indaba (South Africa)
Launched in 1995, Design Indaba is held in Cape Town, South Africa, every February. It hosts more than 40 speakers and 2,500 delegates from around the world. It brings together a span of creative industries such as graphic design, advertising, film, music, fashion design, industrial design, architecture, craft, visual art, new media, publishing, broadcasting and performing arts. The Design Indaba expo that coincides with the conference showcases the best of South African art, jewellery, fashion and craft. The creative extravaganza includes fashion shows, film screenings, and product launches.

Berlin Biennale (Germany)
The Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art draws inspiration from the Venice Biennale. It takes place once in every two years in Berlin, Germany. Along with the exhibition that gives young artists an opportunity to strut their stuff in front of an international audience, the event has an inner forum as well. The forum brings together artists, curators, critics, cooperation partners, sponsors and promoters of art. It takes place at venues such as museums and other public spaces.

First Published: Feb 23, 2012 17:33 IST