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Overview

The Discover Design in India [DDI] Program UID started as an idea, premised around traditional craft ecology, living cultures till its purpose and narrative evolved to a credited module of contemporary experiential learning into a deep dive to redefine and discover design in India.

The program offers a theoretically grounded, experiential learning experience focused on the living heritage…

of India’s diverse handicrafts. This credit-bearing module of the undergraduate curriculum immerses students in the cultural and social worlds of traditional Indian crafts, including social customs, religious practices, festivals, rites, and traditional livelihood practices. Through this immersive experience, students develop critical insights into the cultural and historical significance of traditional crafts, as well as the social, economic, and ecological contexts in which they are embedded.

The DDI initiative by UID recognizes that traditional craft practices are not merely a part of India’s cultural heritage but also a valuable resource for the future. By working closely with artisans in Indian clusters, students gain first-hand experience in the complex interplay between traditional knowledge and modern design practices. The program emphasizes the importance of sustainable design practices that preserve the cultural and ecological integrity of traditional craft practices while also enhancing their economic viability and social relevance. Students engage in critical dialogues about the social, economic, and ecological dimensions of traditional crafts, exploring how these practices are embedded in larger cultural systems and are influenced by broader social, economic, and environmental factors. Through design interventions and prototype development, students explore innovative ways to preserve and promote these valuable resources for future generations, while also contributing to the larger project of sustainable development and social justice.

Through design interventions and prototype development, UID students explore innovative ways to preserve and promote these valuable resources for future generations, while also contributing to the larger project of sustainable development and social justice. DI is an integral part of the experiential learning component of the Undergraduate curriculum of UID/Karnavati University.

Objectives

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Notes from our Collective Experience

The “Discover Design in India” module exemplifies the benefits of experiential learning in the cultural and creative industries. Through this module, students engage with the practical, real-world applications of the concepts and theories they learn in the classroom, developing valuable skills essential for success in academic and professional contexts.

The module’s field visits to Kutch, Jaipur, Bhopal, Udaipur, Jodhpur, and other locations provide compelling cases for the advantages of experiential learning and its role in promoting a deeper appreciation of the cultural and creative industries in India.

During their visits, the students worked closely with Indian artisans, developing sensitivity to the use of traditional elements in contemporary design, cultivating an understanding of craft ecosystems, and considering product development and diversification for the future. The program served as a platform for young designers to learn, grow, and contribute to the preservation and evolution of traditional Indian crafts. The student’s interactions with the local culture and people provided invaluable experience and knowledge, deepening their understanding of the historical and cultural significance of these crafts.

Furthermore, the program’s emphasis on sustainable design practices that preserve the cultural and ecological integrity of traditional craft practices while enhancing their economic viability and social relevance is an essential aspect of the module. The program’s theoretical framework prepares students to become thoughtful and responsible designers who can contribute to the larger project of sustainable development and social justice. Ultimately, the “Discover Design in India” module serves as a model for experiential learning in the cultural and creative industries, facilitating a deeper appreciation of India’s rich cultural heritage and promoting a sustainable future for traditional crafts.


Students Experiences

blankDepartment of Fashion and Lifestyle

The “Discover Design in India” module is a prime example of experiential learning in the context of cultural and creative industries. This study tour was held in Jaipur and offered students from the Department of Fashion and Lifestyle a practical, hands-on approach to learning, which has been shown to improve student engagement and motivation, as well as enhance learning outcomes. During the tour, the students visited four different crafts in Jaipur, namely Blue Pottery, Bagru Print, Meenakari, and Lacquer Bangles, where they were able to observe the processes involved in each craft. This experiential learning opportunity allowed the students to gain a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural significance of these crafts, including the materials used, the techniques employed by skilled artisans, and the challenges faced by these artisans in preserving and promoting their craft.

The students had the unique opportunity to create their prototypes and document their learning through various media, such as photography, sketches, videography, and prototypes. This hands-on approach to learning enabled the students to apply the knowledge and skills they acquired in the classroom to real-world situations, develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and refine their communication and teamwork abilities.

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Bhopal, located in central India, is renowned for its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, making it an attractive destination for students of the Global Design Program. Associate Professor Rikimi Madhukaillya and Assistant Professor Ashish Mathai led a group of 45 students on a week-long exploration of the city’s architectural wonders, including Taj-Ul-Masajid, Gauhar Mahal, Shaukat Mahal, Sadar Manzil, and Chowk Market. The program also included visits to historical sites such as Udayagiri Caves and the ‘Great Stupa’ at Sanchi. The program’s workshops, facilitated by local artists and artisans, focused on Bhil and Gond tribal art.

Through these immersive experiences, the students developed an appreciation for the cultural significance of these crafts, the natural colors and materials used, and the techniques employed by skilled artisans. The program provided a platform for students to deepen their understanding of the historical and cultural significance of these crafts, and the role they play in India’s rich cultural heritage.

The Discover Design in India Program served as an exceptional opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the vibrant culture, art, and architecture of the City of Begums. The program’s emphasis on experiential learning enabled students to engage with the practical, real-world applications of the concepts and theories they learn in the classroom. Through this engagement, students developed a range of valuable skills that are essential for success in academic and professional contexts. Ultimately, the program facilitated a deeper appreciation of the cultural and creative industries in India and the important role they play in shaping India’s rich cultural heritage.

blankDepartment of Industrial Design

Discover Design in India is a unique course-based initiative, with a vision to develop creative sensitivity among students beyond classroom learning for inclusive, sustainable design. To encourage students to participate in their active and passive learning and experiential empathy for meaningful design intervention. As Industrial Design has transformed beyond products and processes and evolved from tangible to intangible – design management, service design, system design, business model, and lifestyle design.

To adapt Industrial Design education for social innovation, and for students to understand the panoramic triad of ecology, economy, and community for sustained solutions, Discover Design in India has been introduced to Design Foundation Curricula as part of Choice Based Credit System Undergraduate Product Design (Hons.) Program with required framework for NEP2020.

Immersive Design Studio contributes to adaptable, feasible design interventions that are designed around the community’s lives and practices. Design Interventions are impactful when the objective is to harness local resources, belief systems, and cultural practices which create possibilities for participatory design, Design for Local Economy, and Sustained Micro-impacts for Social Innovation.

Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID), Product Design UG02 students were taken for field Visits to Jaipur and Udaipur craft clusters in Rural and Urban settlements. Students had rigorous interaction with artisan communities and got the opportunity to closely observe indigenous design, socio-cultural practices, and local rituals contributing to communities’ needs. Discover Design In India aims to develop a design thinking mindset and offset a community-centered design approach.

blankDepartment of Communication Design

The study trip taken by students from the Visual Communication program in Semester 2 was an opportunity for them to immerse themselves in the exceptionally rich craftsmanship and design of Kutch. Kutch is a district within the Indian state of Gujarat and it retains its grandeur from its past as an erstwhile princely state. The district’s unique shape resembles that of a tortoise and is known for its vast expanses of white salt desert. The students were able to gain hands-on experience with the craftsmen in a range of traditional crafts including Copper Bell Metal art, Ajrak Block printing, Wood Carving, and Lippan Art. They were also able to learn about the diverse creative traditions that absorb cultures from the north, west, and east, while also tracing motifs to the ancient Harappan civilization.

Under the guidance of Professor Mukesh Singh, Assistant Professor Manish Solanki, and Assistant Professor Sudip Dutta, the students were able to gain a deeper understanding of the region’s environment, culture, and lifestyle. This allowed them to appreciate the various design sensibilities that inform the vibrant art and crafts of Kutch. The craftsmen they worked with shared their knowledge and techniques, showing the students how they use local materials and colors to create intricate patterns and designs. This experience enabled the students to understand the significant role that craft plays in Kutch’s cultural heritage and how it continues to evolve with the innovative and entrepreneurial drive of spirited artists.

blankDepartment of Animation and Digital Media

As part of the “Discover Design in India” module, the cohort of 69 students from the Animation and Digital Media department’s semester 2 was on an educational trip to Kutch, Gujarat. They were immersed in the region’s culture and architecture, exploring the flora, fauna, cuisine, and attire of the people in Bhuj, the heart of Kutch. The trip included an introduction to the unique weaving technique of Kutch in the Bhujodi village, where students also learned about the art of Kutchi soft toy making from craftsmen in Sumrasar village. To delve deeper into Kutch’s rich textile industry, the group visited Shrujan NGO, Khamir NGO, and Ajrakhpur, where they witnessed the process of block printing, Kutchi embroidery, and pottery making.

A pivotal moment came when the students visited the craft village of the ‘Vandematram’ memorial, where they were exposed to the plethora of crafts that Kutch has to offer. Aside from its cultural richness, Kutch is renowned for its natural beauty, with Rann of Kutch being a particular highlight. The trip left the students with a broader perspective and deeper appreciation for Kutchi culture, crafts, and design.

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The Department of Interior Design organized a study tour to Jodhpur, Rajasthan, to explore various crafts in the blue city. During the five-day tour, seventy-nine students and three faculty members had the opportunity to explore a range of crafts, including leather craft, ‘dabu’ printing, metal craft, paper mache craft, ‘panja’ ‘dari’ craft, and bone carving craft. The tour provided students with a hands-on learning experience, allowing them to interact with the artisans and understand the crafting process. One such craft that the student explored was the “Mojari Jutti,” a shoe made of quality leather with intricate hand embroidery. Students had the chance to interact with the karigars and learn about the process, challenges, raw materials, and pricing. The students discovered that the raw materials for this craft technique are sourced from Chennai, and only the skins of naturally dead animals are used. Despite being a successful craft, the karigars work in humble spaces of their homes next to the district street, highlighting the challenges faced by artisans in preserving and promoting their craft.

Another craft documented by the students was ‘dabu’ printing, a traditional hand-block printing method that originated in Rajasthan. Students learned about the printing techniques, materials used, washing-drying procedures, and sources of income. Each member of the workshop performed a specific activity in a structured atmosphere, and the students explored the space planning of the workshop and the working patterns. Block printing is a source of livelihood for most families, and the artisans have been enthusiastically sharing their knowledge with many tourists and college students, making ‘dabu’ one of India’s globally known crafts. Overall, the study tour provided a valuable experience for the students to appreciate the historical and cultural significance of these crafts and develop a range of skills, including problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, and teamwork. The tour highlights the benefits of experiential learning in the context of cultural and creative industries and showcases the challenges faced by artisans in preserving and promoting their craft.

blankDepartment of Interaction Design & Automobile & Transportation Design

Kutch, a land of rich culture, intricate embroidery, and vibrant colors. It’s no secret that handicrafts are the heartbeat of this region, with Kutch embroidery being among the most stunning textile art forms in the world. Each tribe and sub-tribe also has its unique style, producing a myriad of breathtaking motifs and designs. The students of the Interaction Design and Automobile and Transportation Design Departments embarked on a 5-day endeavor, diving headfirst into the raw, authentic culture of Kutch. They got to experience the art of skilled craftsmen and artisans from Nirona and Heeralaxmi and worked alongside several NGOs. Led by Assistant Professor Sweta Raj and Assistant Professor Arun Soman, the 56 students studied not only Kutch’s crafts but also the region’s environment. They delved into the impact of tourism and changes in the market system, collecting data through interviews and observations to study the interaction and effects of crafts and the environment on the people. All in all, the students were taken on a thrilling journey of fun, culture, and learning, leaving them with a newfound admiration for the beauty of Kutch’s handicrafts.

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