October 5, 2018 Comments (0) Views: 1054 Education, More, Thinking

Importance of building Design communities in India

This is the podcast that Audiogyan did with Sudhir Sharma sometime back. Here are few things Sudhir has touched on in the conversation.

Today I have Sudhir Sharma with us on Audiogyan. Sudhir is a man of many facets: he is a designer, an entrepreneur, a teacher and a publisher. He is the founder and chairman of Indi Design. He is a publisher with POOL magazine, One of the most recognised magazines dedicated to design in India. In his avatar as a promoter of India’s design sector, Sudhir has been known to take a great deal of personal initiative, bringing his brand of persuasion to a wide variety of activities. Today we are here to speak about importance of building design communities and more…

“I realised that there are many design professionals who work in isolation, who are working alone and have no idea where community, profession and design domain are going. I formed a group, initially with 6-7 friends, which very quickly scaled up to 150 people, and decided to call it Designindia. Then I have asked more people to join in, following a rule that only professionals would join, not students. Today that Google Group is about 3500 people. Designindia became the place where we could discuss issues without any disturbance. It was the first online community of professional designers in India. Today Designindia exists on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and all-in-all, i think there are 45000 members.”

“About 10-12 years back I was a member of India Design Council, which is promoted by Ministry of Industry, and one of the foremost jobs of the Council was to promote design, and to create design awareness. I realised, that there is no other magazine, or a newspaper which would put designers on the cover. There are very few designers who have been on the cover of media. Unless we have a media which is dedicated to designers in India, you can’t actually promote design. I decided to propose to India Design Council that we need to have a magazine like this. And I thought, probably to make it more clear, I went ahead and did one issue, so that i could give the proof of concept, saying, we would have a designer on the cover, and inside we would have interviews and work. There was a huge scope I saw for this publication. The Council, somehow at that moment was not tuned to bringing out the magazine, so they suggested why don’t I do it on my own. And I realised that I actually have everything i need to create a magazine. I had a community of 45000 designers, so mining talent wasn’t really a problem. I run my own design studio, INDI Design, so I obviously have a prepublication and publication experience to do that. So far I’ve done 20-25 books for different publishers, and different writers, so I knew how this business works. I went ahead and started publishing. I wanted it to be a serious effort from me, and we thought to make it monthly.”

“We’re doing 95th issue right now, and luckily in 10 years readership is also picking up. It’s about 2,4 million people who read it every year. About five years back we started the online version,, where we have 7,2 million hits every year. 4 years back we decided to launch awards for the POOL Magazine called India’s Best Design Awards.”

“A lot of us, professional designers, are bound by the education, which moulds you into certain way of thinking what design is supposed to be. In India, for example, design has huge stake into social impact. It has to be meaningful for our society, it has to improve life, it has to improve lifestyle.”

“I see POOL Magazine as a history in the making. It is the way history is being made, and we are documenting it.”

“India lacks documentation as such. I think, India as a society, is a very oral society. We talk a lot, but write nothing. We don’t document at all. All our scriptures were always passed orally to people. As a culture, Indians believe in karma, we believe in doing things and not talking about it. Many other cultures, like Indonesia, Malaysia, are like batteries, – you give them something, and they will store it, but they don’t create that much. India is like a generator, we are whizzing past very quick, we don’t save anything, we just generate and throw it out, we do not document it.”

“I feel, irrespective of how communities are being built, we should do our bit. That’s not excuse for not doing what we can do. That’s why just continue doing it.”

“I think, there would be a few professors who would have their work documented, because they teach students documentation, so they would land up documenting their own work. Industries don’t document their work, and their own creative histories, – advertising campaigns, communications. Industries don’t even document their own products.”

“We (Indians) are so culturally rich, that if a designer does something, it has so marginal impact on the culture, that nobody even notices it. We will never have designers as rock stars in India, because they have a very different role here. We need to improve lives for our people, we need to make transportation easy, we need to make breathing easy, create more jobs for people. It’s so much different perspective on what design needs to do in India.”

“If we can start aligning thoughts, and inculcate that into the younger designers. And put that out, that designers are supposed to help society. That’s our role in India. Even if you’re doing commercial work, you are creating a visual culture, you are creating piece of art, you are communicating something, and we become more socially responsible.”

“You need to integrate in three different ways in your professional life. One is integrate locally, in the city where you live. Second is integrate nationally, see what’s happening in different parts of the country and do something about that. And third is, which many of us forget, integrate internationally. Start looking up to who is the best in the world. Integrating on all the three levels will create aware designers, world-class designers from India.”

Listen to a complete Gyan session with Sudhir here.

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