Ashwini Deshpande, director, Elephant Strategy + Design was a speaker at DesignFest 2010, which took place in Mexico in the city of Guadalajara between 30th Sept and 2nd October.
Deshpande was the only Indian speaker at the event where she talked about the relationship between culture and design and also conducted a workshop on design methodology along with Sebastian Guerrini of Argentina.
Talking to Campaign India about the theme of her talk, Deshpande said, “Most cultures with rich heritage seem to have discarded their aesthetic roots for a homogeneous, non-committal (to culture) global look that is primarily defined by design movements of 50s across Europe. However, we tend to forget that Asia, Latin America and Africa have an abundant and unique visual history that was expressed through art, crafts, textiles & architecture in previous centuries. Unfortunately, most of the design education tends to ignore these rich roots and promote universal design.”
She further added, “Over the last few years, it has been our conscious attempt at Elephant to look for answers within the living expressions in India from present and past. I believe Design that has evolved out of intrinsic cultural insights would always touch a chord with the audience. I shared some of the examples from our work that has undoubtedly kept the cultural connection alive. The Commonwealth Youth Games identity was inspired from coronation seal of Shivaji and the games icons were inspired by the Warli figues; both very much a part of this region’s history. Similarly, the baton for the games was inspired by “tutari”, an instrument used to welcome guests traditionally. A range of clay-pots with non-stick coating (Nirlep Bhoomi) is inspired by traditional Indian cooking. A calendar illustration we did for a charities illustrates the concept of “vasudhaiva kutumbakam”, the world in on family & the world is within us.”
Deshpande says that in terms of Design, Mexico seemed to be in the exact same trap. “Everyone wants to create an “American” expression of design. So I thought this was a way to make them look inwards and evolve their own expression by keeping their own cultural roots alive and relevant. “