Bangalore, ‘design city’ of the future

Bangalore is the capital of Indian state Karnataka, that lies in the southern part of that incredible land. I spent the last month in South India. And I felt in love with it.

The first thing that I saw, when I came back to my working place, was the title in Design week ‘Bangalore heralded as a ‘design city’ of the future’. I could never associate that city with design, especially not as the ‘design city’ of the future. I remember it only as a train junction, when I travelled from Humpi to Mysor. It is very polluted, but economy and IT expanded in the last years. The city should be one of the most pleasant places to hang out in India. And it is very popular among young people.

If I ask myself how do I imagine a design city of the future, the answer would be glittering, iconic towers, sterile environment and minimalism. And Bangalore in India isn’t that. It is like every Indian city, where tradition is still very strong, where some people live like 100 years ago, polluted, messy, crowded… So in this case we don’t talk about design from the aesthetic-al point of view and design that is connected to industry. We are talking about social design.

But why was this Indian city heralded as ‘design city’? A debate held at the Design Museum in London in December 2008, where four international experts introduced arguments why this city should be the next design hub. And Bangalore, represented by Professor MP Rajan of Ahmedabad’s National Institute of Design, won against Moscow, Beijing and Sao Paulo.

He spoke about ‘intangible’ aspects of design. He believes that social conscious community can teach the world about intangibility in design. Here is the question of understanding feelings and not about aesthetics.

3 examples of design in Bangalore

Professor showed some live examples of his theory.
First example is Industree Craft Foundation. That was established in 1986 by a designer and volunteer and it is based in Bangalore. They support local artisans. The organization connects artisans with market. So it helps them to earn more. Industree collaborate with fifty shops all over India, IKEA, Crate & Barrel etc. and are members of International Fair Trade Association. There are two wings, one is ‘for-profit’ Industree Crafts Private Limited and ‘non-profit’ Industree Crafts Foundation. First involves retail, design, sourcing, warehousing and artisan improvements. And the second takes care of capacity building, skill training and design development.

Second example is Daily Dump. In India pollution is a big problem. Most people are just not aware of it. The garbage is everywhere, people just throw everything on the ground, they burn plastics on every corner etc. But designer Poonam Bir Kasturi found one solution, Daily Dump. It is trying to make some changes in this way and tries to educate people to become green citizens. On there web page they introduce themselves as ‘Daily Dump is a brand, a service, a set of products and a way of life that we hope people begin to subscribe to’. They educate people how to convert household waste in to high-quality compost. 70% of all wastes in household are organic and all of organic waste can be composted.

One more example is Jaagore Re! One Billion Votes. It is national campaign launched by Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy and Tate Tea. It is focused on young voting popopulation to vote. People in India don’t trust there politicians. One guy said to me, that 99,9 % of politicians are corrupted and I read an article about braded votes in India. Karnataka is the leading state where more than 40% of votes are braded. So this campaign tries to make young people aware of there power to change the current situation. They provide solutions to all voting needs.

Professor Ranjan believes that design is a strong tool for a better tomorrow, so do I. And those examples show us that changes are possible.


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