Gert Dumbar was born in 1940 in Indonesia where he lived for several years, before moving back “home” to The Netherlands with his family. He concluded his studies in the post graduate graphic design program at the Royal College of Art in London. Since then, in his 30-year long career, besides setting up Studio Dumbar (considered one of the most influential design studios in The Netherlands), Dumbar has also held various academic appointments including his most recent and ongoing appointment as staff member at the graphic design department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague and as visiting professor at the Royal College of Art in London; the University of Bandung, Indonesia; Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit, USA; DesignLabor in Bremerhaven, Germany among others. He is also a co-founder of the progressive Zeebelt Theater in The Hague, a podium for experimental multidisciplinary artistic expression.
Dumbar will be one of the speakers at Kyoorius DesignYatra 2010, to be held on September 3 & 4 at Renaissance Marriott Powai. In an email interview with Campaign India, he explained his perspective on Indian design and what more should be done.
What is your perspective on Indian design and the kind of work that you see coming out of the country?
You must not forget that India has a long visual tradition – more than 400 years old. It’s definitely one of the oldest visual traditions in the world. India has very good advertising, from what I can see of the ads the Tourism Council of India displays in Holland. There are a growing number of ads for fashion I think.
Also as there is a big Indian community in Holland, we have a lot of Bollywood posters around. NID is very well known in Holland and overall, I think there is a lot of interesting work going around in India.
Indian society is steeped in tradition which you can transform to contemporary design. There is a definite contemporary design movement in India – but you should do far more as you are the one of the biggest countries in the world.
What is the importance of design festivals like DesignYatra?
For me, it is important to upgrade design in India. It is attended by a lot of students and professionals alike. These conferences are very important for India as I see it. It is also important for design education and you have to speed up with the Chinese. I say this because the Chinese Government is promoting design studios. Also there are a tremendous amount of designers in every field from China.
India should beat China in design education in the future as you can easily do that. I think this is because Indian designers are far more conceptual than Chinese designers – that is the secret. I know this because I have spent a lot of time in China.
The third thing is that you can make the government aware of the importance of design. India is exporting her designs and this is only likely to increase in the future. The world is ready to accept these new well designed Indian products.
What do you think about the theme “Order & Chaos”?
Well, the theme indeed is very interesting. I like both Order and Chaos. Characteristically I can handle both. On Chaos, I am producing a new set of international disaster pictograms. Unfortunately these could have been used by Pakistan and the flooding disaster they faced. These would be ideal for refugee camps.
I like Order and Chaos, as it forces designers to take a step, not only in India but the world over.
What will you be talking about this year?
I will be talking about my background and my attitude as a designer. I will also showcase some of my major projects I did for the public sector in Holland.
How important is the 360-degree approach for the future of design itself, considering the gamut of media people interact with, in terms of traditional and non-traditional media?
That’s why I like Order and Chaos – its 360 degrees. The advice I would like to give to designers is, “Try to be yourself as a designer. Most importantly do not listen to your client – I never did!”