The Hyderabad Design Week (HDW), which was hosted by the government of Telangana in partnership with India Design Forum, concluded recently with vivid inspirations on design, narratives on eclectic processes and products, as well as innovative mediums that are bridging the two across the design scene worldwide.
Amid numerous thought-provoking conversations, one intriguing panel was Material Futures, that explored trans-disciplinary collaboration, seeking ways for a sustainable future. The panel had a fitting mix of individuals who are transitioning design into the allied disciplines, particularly experimenting on the intersection of craft, science and technology. Moderated by Mrinalini Ghadiok (STIR), the panelists were Sandeep Sangaru (Sangaru Design Studio), Rakesh Jetli (IKEA), Takbir Fatima (DesignAware), and Henry Skupniewicz (Godrej Design Labs).
It is only by observing how we live today that we can begin to explore how we can live more sustainably tomorrow. By considering the current and future context of design decisions, the panelists discussed the role of collaboration between different individuals, agencies and practices on a global scale.
Ghadiok, the editor at STIR, opened the panel with a striking analogy connecting the common saying, "necessity is the mother of invention" and the recently surfaced, "desperation is the father of brilliance". Reflecting on whether in our time we are recognising the fact that we are desperate to bring about a change, she invited Sangaru to share his views.
A Bengaluru-based multi-disciplinary designer working with local materials to create global furniture products, Sangaru said that history has been a witness as every phase has been a desperate phase. “But the time has come to balance things out rather than just moving in one direction, to balance the past and the future together," he added.
While design is enhancing the way we are living, it is also contributing to create solutions for global environmental concerns. Jetli, who represents the Better Air Now initiative by IKEA, which re-purposes rice crop stubble - one of the major causes of pollution in North India, which otherwise gets burnt by farmers - highlighted the fact that one solution is not enough for the problems that we are facing today. He added that when we will join hands with the larger community to create meaningful resources out of waste materials is when the impact will be the most.
With material as the forefront of the conversation, it was likely to have comparatives between traditional and digital. Fatima, the Director of DesignAware - an interdisciplinary and experimental design and architecture studio - shared the merits of parametric design over traditional processes. “For us, it is about prototyping and being able to generate a whole system of design where you are able to generate many different things and can test those in the digital space," she said.
Sangaru, who on the contrary works with local artisans and involves craft and traditional techniques to create contemporary designs, emphasised on the role of these craftsmen who are essentially designers, but are unfortunately considered only for their skills and not knowledge. It is time, he said, that we regard their knowledge to solve new problems.Skupniewicz, the co-Head at Godrej Design Lab, on the other hand pointed out the larger scope of trans-disciplinary approach, saying that there is a room for everybody in design. Having founded the digital fabrication lab that works with young professionals to design and fabricate contemporary furniture, Skupniewicz expressed his views on the subject saying that collaboration, honesty and openness is the key to a sustainable future.
As discussed by the distinguished panelists, it is definitely a crucial point for design not to be acknowledged only as a niche discipline, but a platform that accommodates every expression, skill set, and approach to building a present and a future that benefits one and all.