* Be it the temples of South India, the drainage system of Mohenjo-daro or the winding caves of Ajanta and Ellora, the architecture of India has drawn billions of people under its spell for years
* Slowly but surely, some excellent design institutions across the country are channeling this historical background into modern eyewear and solutions
* When design brings together technologies like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, robotics, etc., great things will happen
A little more than 170 years ago, the Great Exhibition of 1851 took place in the Crystal Palace in London and was one of the defining spectacles of the 19th century. The ambitious event, at which six million people stepped through the crystal doors, showed “works of industry of all nations”. The Indian exhibition was the most celebrated exhibition in every nation including the UK at the event – due to our unique jewels, industrial tools and intricate textiles.
Be it the temples of South India, the drainage system of Mohenjo-daro or the winding caves of Ajanta and Ellora, the architecture of India has drawn billions of people under its spell for years. However, despite all these innovations in all design structures, India’s international image today consists mostly of dirty streets, stained walls, and the occasional image of a yellowed Taj Mahal.
India celebrates 75 years of independence from British colonialism on August 15, 2021. Industry has yet to catch the attention of the masses.
In the past few decades, India has undergone major changes in its culture, society, architecture, and city. As more parts of the country become globalized, exposure to international ideas, technology, education and innovation has increased rapidly. We have seen the emergence of unicorns in mobility, fintech, food services, IT and edtech. Can design achieve a similar impact by combining the traditional capabilities of the country with technological solutions of the new age?
Slowly but surely, some excellent design institutions across the country are channeling this historical background into modern glasses and solutions. These institutions impart knowledge and empower the country’s youth to experiment in traditional design areas such as architecture, fashion, product and communication, as well as in modern areas such as game design, automobile customization and app development. The graduates of these institutions have mastered India’s many challenges to globalization with intellect, creativity and the highest skill – evidence of this can be seen across the country.
The architecture of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, the successful implementation of various road projects by NHAI, which make the journeys of millions of users more comfortable and safer every day, and even the newly opened Gandhinagar train station testify to the competence and infrastructure competence of the new India.
The collaborative collection of the fashion designer and couturier Sabyasachi Mukherjee with the international clothing giant H&M was not only released in 18 countries and 48 international online markets, but was sold out within minutes of its release. The “Streets for People” challenge as part of the Smart City Mission launched in 2020 by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has empowered young, local architects and designers to design and implement strategies for safer and more accessible streets in over 30 cities across the country. Even the three months of national lockdown due to the pandemic brought rapid overnight innovations in the design of masks, PPE kits, oxygen concentrators, and even apps for tracking oxygen, hospital beds, and more.
When design brings together technologies like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, robotics and so on, great things will happen. A cultured, design-driven ecosystem will certainly close the wide-reaching market gaps and capitalize on consumer demand for a steep growth path.
It’s time to create a new India backed by design.
(Sanjay Gupta is Vice Chancellor, World University of Design, Sonipat)