30 May 2007
Helmut Langer, Icograda President 1989-1991
Helmut Langer, Icograda President 1989-1991

Helmut Langer with Anagha Inamgar, head of visual communication of Creative-i College

Pune Art & Design Festival was held 22 >25 March 22 2007 in Pune, India. This year's theme was sustainability as a critical aspect of design thinking and design solutions. The theme was ignited by Helmut Langer and his keynote speech 2005 at the world conference on design education (DETM 2005) at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad. Pune Art & Design Festival, which offered a broad range of activities including exhibitions, workshops, and open houses was organised by Creative-i College. The event raised Pune's profile as a creative hub, facilitated international exchanges and connections as well as celebrated local creative talents and enterprises. Creative-i College is a college based in Pune conducting Under Graduate programs in 5 disciplines viz. Product Design, Interior Design, Fashion Design, Digital Arts and Mass Communication.

Helmut Langer, graphic designer and Icograda President 1989-1991, was invited as keynote speaker to present his vision of a fundamental world-wide challenge for a new design thinking: "Global Challenge for Sustainable Design".

He said: "The Earth's situation is not irreversible, but changes need to be made as soon as possible. We have the chance to turn towards a sustainable development, one that allows us to improve the living conditions of the world's citizens and to satisfy the needs of generations to come. Designers are in a key position to influence this shift. None of us can tackle these challenges alone". Therefore, Helmut Langer calls on the global responsibility of the designers profession for the benefit of the global society and the global environment: "The five priority strategies are preventing , reducing , sharing , changing , and restoring . Designers must learn that we live in a closed system. We can not add new or additional planets. Sustainability is the key word for the future of all of us.

Other speakers were Peter A. Di Sabatino from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena/USA, who led a "Design Challenge" workshop about Mobility and Urban Products and Systems; Elena Caratti and Annamaria Formentini from Milano Politechnico gave a worshop on "Signs and Symbols for Sustainability"; Nicola Morelli, Italian architect and designer from Aalborg University in Denmark spoke about "Urban Transportation in Different Contexts - locally and in wider markets"; Dinesh Katre from the National Multimedia Resource Centre in Pune spoke about "Applications of Interface Metaphors in UX Design"; and Sayalee Joshi, principal researcher at CKS gave a workshop about "User Research and Ethnography".

Many students, professional designers and interested people from the street participated in the festival activities. In the workshops Indian design students showed their high creativity. Spiritually, the Indians remain internally very religious and emotional. Outwardly, however, Indians are influenced greatly by Western materialism and physical manifestations of living.

In India, design is booming. The Indian Government has recognised design as an essential element for its fast developing economic growth. At the beginning of this year the Indian Government has established a design policy. Until now India focused on traditional manufacturing industries and then on IT industry. As we transition to an innovation-fuelled economy, the driving force in the next phase of Indian development will be the imaginative and creative capacity of its people. The new architects of the global economic landscape are those who apply their imagination, creativity and knowledge to generate new ideas and create new value. Multi-dimensional creativity artistic creativity, business entrepreneurship and technological innovation will be the new currency of success.

In India the number of professional designers is estimated to be somewhere between five to six thousand. Indian economy growing at the rate of 9% requires nearly 10,000 designers every year. Communication and manufacturing are the two prime sectors of the economy which draw considerable inputs from design.

Design interacts with a variety of factors ranging from aesthetics to functionality, craft traditions to high technolgy, needs of local markets to the requirements of globalisation. This makes the knowledge domain of design vast and complicated. The changing profile of the Indian economy and its growing manufacturing and vibrant service sector now require more and more design inputs than ever to remain competitive.

India's heritage as a civilisation, high level of diversity of cultures, religions, festivals, festivities, rituals, practises, visual icons, vernacular languages, ethnic food, fashions, and multitude of colours make it possible for design to play a critical role unlike in other countries. India has a huge creative talent pool. In recent years, the engineering and IT talent have come of age. There are experts in anthropology, humanities and liberal arts who can contribute to design along with specialists in art, music and performing arts. This makes it possible for India to become a major "Creative Outsourcing Hub".

The Creative-i College has recognised that sustainability is a great responsibility. The profession of design (product and visual design) more than any other profession, faces great challenges. It's because the body of knowledge in the domain of design is created out of training of mind and hand, visual thinking, personal skill, experience in shaping creativity for functionality and in the ability to provide innovative solutions. This is essential for all kind of design innovations.

On 25th March, a Round Table Discussion was held, with designers from all over India, including Vikas Satwalekar (Past Chairman NID), Manoj Kothari, Nachiket Thakur, Mukund Athale, Pankaj Jhunja, about Sustainable Design and Responsible Design as a possible opportunity and road map for India. It was agreed by the participants that this is an important and timely topic for design, design practice and education in India. It was expressed that "responsible" design is what the design profession should go for. It is not only a vision for India and that "responsible" design should be included in design education. Helmut Langer said "Responsibility means: Be a global citizen before you are a local consumer".

© HL 2007