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UnBox Festival V.2

Ria

As some of you might have noticed, there has been an explosion of design related conferences and festivals that have sprouted up in India, over the last few years. Unbox is part of the mix. This year, in its second avataar it was bigger, better and shinier than the previous one. The 3 day long festival has given to the creative industry, a space to engage and interact while sharing ideas, experiences, design and thinking processes and insights into various creative practices.

Installation at the entrance

What made it stand out from the rest, was how engaging the whole event was. While the days were packed with talks and discussions, the evenings were equally paced with super fantastic entertainment including a fantastic audio-visual pre-opening piece by The Light Surgeons, a pioneering collective of multimedia artists based in London

The Light Surgeons

As a designer I felt that the talks and panels were extremely well curated and threw up concerns, trends and problems that were particularly relevant to the design community. This might have something to do with the fact that UnBox is organised by a bunch of activated creative and design personalities sprinkled across Delhi and Bangalore, namely Quicksand, Codesign, B.L.O.T and the BlindBoys.

The festival revolved around the premise of  “magic at intersections”. It brought together people and ideas that are shaping contemporary thought. The essence and vision is beautifully summed up on their website -  The UnBox Festival is a response to the emergence of a new subculture: one that straddles the spirit of innovation, is fostered by an enterprising spirit, and invites the engagement of all senses.

They were rather successful this endeavor, what with, perhaps, the world’s first Eating Designer Marije Vogelzang, Hendzel+Hunt <the up-cycling duo from Peckam, UK>, Aditi  Ranjan + MP Ranjan, Stalin K. Padma (Video Volunteers),  The Daily Gorilla and other such luminaries, all in attendance and on stage. Higher level ideas that dealt with domestic violence, cultural identity, curation of culture, the politics of language, the role of design in field of craft were presented to the audience in the form of interesting dialogues and examples.

Along with the talks and panel discussions, participants were encouraged to “unbox” their minds and were exposed to new eating experiences, getting their hands dirty and rediscovering the age old tradition of Jugaad along with being introduced to LATCH, a system of information classification and had to create their own visualisations. Some interesting ideas emerged from these activities, that were on display for the viewing pleasure of others.

(LATCH workshop//Catalog tree)

(Upcycle//Hendzel+Hunt)

(The Indian Gorrila//The Daily Gorrila)

The last decade in India, has seen an explosion of explorations of newer forms of art, music, literature as well as a more a growing understanding of what contemporary design practice in this country means, as well as locating it in the global scene.  Not surprising, given that India is now one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. As a creative practitioner who is both from and based here, this is an exciting time. The country is on the threshold of something big and is in the process of discovering its own voice and identity. It also highlights the important role that cultural and design agencies in defining this very voice and influence the development of the country. Thus festivals like these become important spaces to initiate conversations, foster collaborations and support new and improved ideas. By partnering with cultural institutions like the British Council, Goethe Insitut Max Mueller, The Swiss Arts Council and the Dutch DFA, Unbox was in a wonderful position to present both local and global experiments and examples of entrepreneurship and change makers. Two thumbs up to the UnBox team for pulling this one off.  Here’s hoping UnBox 2013 grows to be more awesome and magical.

Unbox 2012 Panel Discussion

PS – For those of you interested, Unbox is looking to recruit a Festival Director – http://unboxfestival.com/jobs.html

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