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Pune Design Festival 2013:


In its 7th year of existence, the theme for Pune Design Festival (PDF ) this year was Interestingly the conference and I started our design journey in the same year in Pune.  I have attended the fest in various roles, starting from being  visitor in 1st year, a volunteer in 3rd, part of color workshop team in 6th and an invitee this year.

Due to work commitments I managed to attend only two sessions (5 speakers). These sessions were called Recreating Forms and Star Sessions.

I am going to try and list some buzz phrases that captured my attention during these talks.

Breaking away from Skeumorphism

As designers, we seem to be tired of everyday life or retro referencing. Concentration seems to be on creating a design language for today, which is purely digital.

Hemant Suthar of Fractal Ink highlighted the entirely digital design philosophy behind Windows 8 UI.

Utpal Pandey, graphic designer and educator, spoke about how we are just caught up in sequential  upgrades of products around us and how there is no longer a breakthrough innovation which finds a new usage.


Sharing Design

As designers we don’t want to work like artists, we want to work for people and share it with everyone.

Utpal Pandey believes collaboration is a part of nature. This is reflected through his extensive efforts to create various design platforms like VSUAL (design journal), ‘What is Graphic Design’ (Online community) and ‘Design stream’( content sharing site for designers).

Markus Heinsdorff  considers sharing his design with common people, your fraternity and media is most important.

Reinterpreting Cultural Icons

We are at a stage where we want to preserve history and create spaces to cherish and experience them. The whole energy is driven towards recreating these icons and spaces but in a way that they relate to today’s time. Instead of faking an ancient look, these spaces use modern materials like steel, PVS, fibre glass, etc and technologies like 3 D printing, etc.

Founder of Design Habit, Amardeep Singh Behl’s, exploration lies in bringing the sense of narrative in diverse spaces. He believes that it is not enough for a visitor to walk around a space looking at glass case enclosed historical artefacts. The visitor needs to be empowered with an envelope of experience which they can take back. It is important to contextualize these museums to the time it depicts with today.

Orijit Sen’s massive mural created for Virast-e-Khalsa museum is Anandpur Sahib takes the concept of juxtaposition to a whole new level. This 20 meters in height and 75 meters in width walk through mural, moves traditional folklore to current political cars and from festivals to popular songs. Digital devices were used to conceptualize the mural, but it was hand painted in the real form. When the audience experiences it, the play of layering, lights and sound along brings the mural alive.

Nuru Karim’s ‘The chakra’ is a monument dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi for contemporary India. Breaking away from the visual semantics of a chakra, his steel monument depicts a spin of thread.

Markus Heinsdorff, designer for Indo-German Urban mela, was inspired by varied things like mobile spaces, mandalas, gem stones, tents and immigration workers. But his final design reflects usage of newer materials and complex structures.

Both Nuru and Markus pointed out the importance of design interaction with skyline and the common people.

 Democratization of Design

Here is another buzz word that we have been hearing popping up from every corner of the globe. The concept was not a part of allotted topics, but a very valid point raised by Ranjan Malik after one of the sessions. The question lies in whether we as designers want to act pricey and keep design thinking to ourselves. Or have we reached at a stage where we are open to creating such tools which can be used by non designers to apply to complex system level problems?

With PDF being organized under ADI now, I look forward to attending a more holistic fests in coming years. A fest with more democratized appeal to designers, budding designers, industry and other non-design entities.




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