India in Flux

Design & India

Biennale Internationale Design St-Etienne 2008 will take place in France from November 15 to November 30, 2008. India in Flux is the main theme of the India Pavilion exhibition looking at the “interactions” between India and Design in the 21st Century.

It is launched and organised by Alok Nandi, Architempo, at the invitation of the Biennale Internationale Design St-Etienne 2008, in France.
Change is the only constant. Flows are omnipresent and India, through out millennia was designed through and with flows, flux.
New territories, in mutation, ought to be visited, in the indianity of design. (What is Indianity and what is Design ? Two implicit questions yet to be re-investigated). And others to be raised.

Alok b. Nandi
 – June 2008 – Brussels, Europe

Concept & Design by Alok b. Nandi, Architempo. Thanks to Catherine Schoemann & Aline Uma Nandi, Elsa Françès, Chloé Heyraud, Josyane Franc, Sabine Roche and the technical team of the Cité du Design, Giovanna Massoni and the CGRI team.

sandesh = sweetfood = information = sucreries = stories


 – an exhibition at the St-Etienne Intl Design Biennale, France, Nov. 2008
The design journey began at the International St-Etienne Design Biennale in France : the exhibition INDIA IN FLUX > took place in the French city, exploring “Sandesh” as its initial theme. “Sandesh” was its main metaphor. Sandesh has several meanings ‘sweet food’ and ‘information’, and ‘news’ or ‘stories’.
It is about objects and rituals, memories, sharing, caring, giving, sophistication, everyday life, mobility, invisible design, intangible design, and spontaneous design.
Its first appearance took place in St-Etienne, France from 15 November to 30 November 2008.
This series of exhibitions/publications on Design and India explores the multiple facets of the complex territories of design.
Sandesh, in India, is a word that caters to multiple meanings: sweet, information, stories, … in this context Sandesh can be seen both as a metaphor of “Design & India” and a pretext for investigating everyday design.
The overarching principle is to look at design and emotion. The design journey unfolds between Food Design and Information Design. These design stories look at the everyday sophistication of objects, forms and rituals.
Sandesh, in its first meaning, is a fresh white cheese with sugar, cooked in a sort of wok (named korai) and then moulded. Solid, soft and enriched with date sugar, it’s presented in various shapes and tastes following festivals and ceremonies.
Sandesh is to white cheese what “pralines” (a.k.a Belgian Chocolates) are to chocolate!
Sandesh is a pretext, which allows us, to explore different aspects of design as it is understood in the Western world, or as one imagined this notion of design in India, where design is a pervasive practice. Talking about content (sweet food or stories) leads us de facto into trying to grasp processes and tools, practices and containers, intentions and expectations.
Sandesh is a metaphor that deals with the emotional side of design. The pleasure of sharing, of giving, of tasting, of living, …
Change is the only constant. Flows are omnipresent and India has been shaped through them and with them over centuries. New territories, mutating, at zero lag-time ought to be visited in the “indianity of design” (what is indianity? what is design? notions we will regularly revisit though exhibitions, through the web).
Flows are sources of energy, of conversations, of creations.
Two anchor points are proposed:
_ Everyday India offers objects and services that adapt the design attitude; original or pragmatic.
_ Digital India is taking shape and proposing concepts, encounters and themes that reflect the specific arrangements of design.
India is everywhere. Everybody is going to India. The globalisation of India is a counterpoint to the ‘Indianisation’ of the globe, or vice versa. India is intriguing and its flows are fascinating. The use of mobile phones and internet kiosks are giving life to new urban and rural dynamics. At home and abroad Indian companies are becoming global, they are buying western firms or brands (automobile, metallurgy, …), transforming their visual identities and adopting business attitudes from here and there. This country-continent «is recovering» its place in the world on economic and dynamic levels.
But what about the design landscape in India? The 2008 edition of the International St-Etienne Design Biennial raised this question, which triggered off others, hence the title: India in Flux.
Design here is taken at large. These two complex things – India and Design – are proposing dense territories. Design related to India, or India being shaped by design open up new scenarios that are mutating, flowing. But what about everyday flows? Digital flows?
On February 8 2007 India announced its National Design Policy (note that some US designers are working on one to submit to their recently elected President). What are the impacts on the 230 design related areas? Let’s also remember that 2008 was the 50th anniversary of the “Eames India Report”, based on a mission by Charles and Ray Eames, who were invited by the Indian government. Back in 1958, Eames spoke of “the quest for values specifically Indian”. And today?
Finally the notion of «zero» took place in India. Without zero there would be no digital life. Also, the concept of the tag search mechanism, seen on blogs and social tools such as Flickr and other web2.0 apps, derives from S.R. Ranganathan’s work on faceted classification: in the 1920’s, Ranganathan realised the limitation of the simple hierarchy systems and proposed a new Colon Classification system for libraries, today this system is widely utilized on the World Wide Web.
From everyday to digital, the domain is in constant evolution, in revolution. Through objects and concepts we can review India, its conceptions, its impressions, its judgements. Artefacts are a pretext to explore, to discover, and to take a design journey.
Alok b. Nandi
 – 2008


Thanks go to many people for their input, their contribution, their help to have the exhibition taking place, and more specifically:

Ezio Manzini, Politecnico di Milano
François Jégou, Solutioning Design
Neha Shivshanker Joshi, SID, CEPT, Ahmedabad
Aditya Dev Sood, Founder/CEO, CKS
Saswati Saha-Mitra, Knowledge Manager, CKS
Surabhi Malani, Design Researcher, CKS
Simon Casterman, Editions Casterman

M.P. Ranjan, NID, Ahmedabad
Shashank Mehta, NID, Ahmedabad
Ravi Poovaiah, IDC, IIT Powai, Mumbai
Suresh Sethi, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Gunalan Nadarajan, Vice Provost for Research , Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
Ampat V Varghese, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru
Rama Gheerawo, RCA, London
Ajaykumar, Goldsmith College London
Satyendra Pakhalé, Amsterdam
Abhishek Hazra, Kolkata – Bengaluru

Elsa Françès, Director, Cité du Design
Chloé Heyraud, Cité du Design
Josyane Franc, Cité du Design
Sabine Roche, Cité du Design
Technical team of the Cité du Design,

Giovanna Massoni, designstreams
Transportation team of the CGRI & WBDM

Sankari Nandi-Mallick
Catherine Schoemann
Aline Uma Nandi
Mohua Joneja
R.K. Goël
Sanjay Nandy
Ujjwal Nandy
Subrata Barick
Biplab Nandy