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INDIA And The Need For A National Organization For Design and Designers

Radhika

AIGA US Chapters / Courtesy AIGA website

When I began studying at Pratt, New York, in 2008, the very first week we were introduced to the American Institute of Graphic Arts. And it instantly appealed to me. Being a student of communication design, in a foreign country, this seemed the best way to keep in touch with the design scene in NY. This way, I was well informed of the various design events, exhibitions, conference, lectures and workshops that kept happening in NY. Not to mention that being a student AIGA member [for $75 a year] we get heavy discounts on all the entry fees. Most of the lectures, taking place all over NYC never ceased to be a source of inspiration. I remember attending a lecture by James Victore and I remember thinking, “WOW!”. This was just one of the few ‘WOW’ moments I experienced.

Fast forward to 2 years later. Here I am in Mumbai, working as a communication designer and loving it. But I keep seeking those ‘WOW’ moments. There are many other young designers and not to mention the several hundred design students. India has so many design veterans and senior creatives from the Ad world who could serve as mentors to aspiring young designers.The problem is how do we connect them? There are few pockets formed around NID, NIFTs, IIT’s [Bombay, Guwahati], Pune have their alumni who help the current students. But in second tier cities, it takes students years to get their foot in the door and connect with senior stalwarts of the design field. I should know, I graduated from a second tier city. Despite being only 4 hrs away from Mumbai and Pune, we rarely were able to meet, interact and learn from the senior designers. We were quite unaware of the latest developments in the field of Graphic Design.

The architects have their Council of Architecture, and the doctors, their Indian Medical Association. Its high time we designers formed a national organization for ourselves. If we had an organization like the AIGA, with chapters in the different cities, it would a completely new story. Students would be aware of what veterans designers are doing, where new lectures and workshops are being held etc. This would create a platform for students to not only meet their design heroes but to interact with their peer from various parts of the country. This organization could prove to be a big resource for the entire design community. The senior, established designers and design firms would be able to get to know the upcoming talent and through a mentoring program help them find their footing in the design industry.

There are a few organizations that have been established but I question their reach. Kyoorius, is one of the few that has managed to create an impact on the Design Community in India. With their quarterly magazine and the annual design conference called Designyatra, they have made their presence felt. Designyatra, now in its 7th year, is one of Asia’s finest design conferences. This is one platform that young designers get to meet their heroes, listen to them and with luck work with them. Design in India, is another resource that many students and young designers turn to. Here one can find projects by students and professionals, information on upcoming events, several design firms listed according to the geography, and links to other resources like history, design blogs, renowned professors and their contact information etc. But it fails to bring together the community effectively. It fails to engage the designers in meaningful dialogue. India Design Association [InDeAs] and Association of Designers of India [ADI] are other 2 such organizations. They have the potential of doing for the Indian Design Community what AIGA did for the American design community. Even though the ADI has 5 chapters established [Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, hardly anyone is aware of it.

Design, in India, is still in its adolescent phase. This is the time that the design community needs to come together and create a resource that will inspire and motivate all its members. This will create a unique platform where professionals and students from all streams of design like Industrial Design, Communication Design, Exhibition Design, Apparel & Lifestyle Design, Accessory Design, Retail Design, Interaction Design, Universal Design, Human factors Design, Sustainable & craft design, Film and Animation. Industrial Design covers Product, Textile, Toy, Ceramic, Automotive & Furniture design can converge and learn from one another. Where young designers can take advantage of the experiences of veterans and learn from their mistakes, where they can find their voices and define their sense of style and aesthetic.

One Response to “INDIA And The Need For A National Organization For Design and Designers”

  1. Maitreyi says:

    Hi Radhika,

    I completely agree with you, there needs to be something similar in India like the Graphic Arts Guild (GAG). Some sort of a Graphic Artists union that also lobbies on a bunch of things starting from policies in Design Studios, Freelancing rates as designers, working rights as designers, some sort of a standard like that can be put in place. I love the Ethical Pricing Guide that GAG has come up with. It helps a lot in the US, but unfortunately there is nothing like that in India. I wish there was something like that.

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