Kyoorius Design Yatra 2011
This year’s Design Yatra in Goa was a smaller, more intimate event than usual with an interesting mix of speakers from across the globe. Spread over two days, delegates were treated to some fantastic work; our sketchbooks are filled with notes and doodles that we will follow up on in the coming weeks. The theme for this year’s event was Next with some interesting conversations swirling around analog versus digital. This year’s two most anticipated speakers, Massimo Vignelli and David Carson couldn’t make it and I was looking forward to Vignelli’s take on modernism in the 21st century. There was more than enough, however to keep everyone’s head alight with some great work.
Irma Boom was undoubtedly the star of the show as she had the audience in thrall with her books and the stories behind them. She urged designers to read what they were designing, considering the fact that most designers look at text as just another object to fit into the page. Each project of hers was a deeply personal journey and an incredible struggle to finish, something every designer has been through. Print is still a medium much loved in the Indian design community and it set the tone for some interesting debates later on.
Adrian Shaughnessy was another speaker to stike a chord with his ‘Watching the Designers’ presentation–the audience whistling and cheering his ten points on good designers. Particularly popular was point number 7, ‘Good designers are liars and cheats’. Its worth checking out Shaugnessy’s latest undertaking called Unit Editions which is every designer’s secret dream–to have their own publishing company. With today’s technology and access to easier online retail options I’m surprised there aren’t more people doing this, particularly in India with the emergence of stores like FlipKart.
Donald Beekman and Liza Enabeis of Type Radio had some great audience interaction and proved that you could put an intrinsically visual subject like typography on the radio. In fact they have almost 400 episodes of conversations with designers from around the world. A big hit with the audience was Typographic Chinese Whispers which had students converting a font into a piece of sound which was then passed onto another student to convert back into a font, with some surprising results.
Admittedly not all the speakers were at their best on stage. Troika who inspite of having some great work to show, were disappointing with a tedious presentation that could have done with a bit of editing. It is a fact that most presentations at Design Yatra tend to lapse into a portfolio parade of greatest hits which makes it a bit of a spectacle rather than a serious conversation. The only Indian representation on stage this year were the Khoslas–Sandeep Khosla and Tania Singh Khosla. Their topic of choice, India Modern, of how Global and Local can come together seemed a bit dated and lacked a contemporary view on India’s growing confidence in evolving its own design language. But Massimo Vignelli had an interesting point to make in his video, saying that with the ease of global communications these two distinctions (of global versus local) will cease to exist and ideas will be seamlessly absorbed into a new dialogue of this network.
The Dutch, who have become somewhat of a fixture at Design Yatra were out promoting their new initiatives for education in India. They are set to present a proposal for an Indo-Dutch collaboration on design education to the Indian Government at the end of the year. While the idea of collaborating with international institutions is welcome and a bit overdue, I believe the India Report prepared by Charles and Ray Eames and which led to the founding of NID, is still very relevant today–if only more design educators would take the time to understand what it says.
I highly recommend sticking around for the workshops and panel discussions at Design Yatra as they never fail to bring up interesting conversations. This year workshops by Bill Darling of Saffron, Peter Higgins from Land and Irma Boom with Adrian Shaughnessy were nicely done and had some attendees bursting with inspiration. But the debate most of us are going to take away this year is the state of digital design in India. Following the panel discussion on the future of digital, there was a clear sense of unease among many in the audience. Digital is a medium waiting to be exploited in India but most designers in the country seem to be uncomfortable or even wary of working with it. LDB will look into this in future posts but its something to think about for next year’s Design Yatra: Michael Beirut and Thomas Heatherwick are slated to speak, but we should certainly expect a larger Indian representation on stage perhaps from less well known designers and studios. As always Rajesh Kejriwal and his team at Kyoorius pulled off another great event and Design Yatra is shaping up to be The conference for creativity in Asia.
Ruchita Madhok and Aditya Palsule from Little Design Book were invitees at Kyoorius Design Yatra 2011 in Goa. Photographs © 2011 Aditya Palsule. Illustrations © 2011 Ruchita Madhok.