John Thackara | Essays

UnBox: Where Next for Design in India?

UnBox, a three day festival in Delhi, in February, brings together creative collectives from around India. One of these groups, Clay Futures, will brainstorm scenarios to do with sustainable, medicinal, and air filtering bentonite — hence the picture above.

Doors of Perception's role in UnBox is to pose a question: in an ideal design school, what values, skills and connections would inspire its teachers and students? We will weave this conversation into a number of UnBox events.

The idea of UnBox is to blend work and play across contexts and mediums. UnBox therefore involves workshops, debates, brainstorms, picnics, literary readings, and travel. And it's not just for designers: a key theme will be how to develop productive collaborations with activists, entrepreneurs, artists, builders, and other dreamers and doers.

The UnBox festival will happen in parallel with Technodrome, an arts and music festival, and Beat Repeat, a literary festival. Events among the three festivals will be coordinated as to allow for unBox festival goers to experience and draw inspiration from culture, technology, movement and words.

Before the event itself, small multi-disciplinary groups will take field trips to sites dealing with organic food, urban sanitation, safe water, clean energy, livelihoods in Kumaon, and Old Delhi. Participants' rich media shot during the trips will be presented at the festival. You need to apply for these field trips by 10 January.

The festival, which runs February 24-27, involves picnics, literary readings, and art installations in an environment that will help us rethink and stretch design practice at the intersections of different disciplines. A conference each morning is followed by a variety of afternoon activities. Among these:

— Lakshmi Murthy of Rajasthan’s Vikalp Design leads a workshop on the communication of complex health and life issues to non-literate and rural people.

— Aditi Ranjan, co-author of the spectacular book Handmade in India will explore issues to do with the documentation and dissemination of knowledge about crafts, traditions, techniques.

— Spoonge, an exploration of new experiences around food, and how chefs and designers can collaborate to create an experience that challenges culturally accepted norms.

— Make-a-thon, an all-day, all-night platform for hacking, tinkering, learning, creating and playing. Already underway for example is I-Love-Small-Books for people who love hand-made books, comics and zines.

— A community-driven photographic event that will "bring photographers and viewers together in temporary encounters that leave no footprint."

Doors of Perception is a partner in UnBox with Quicksand; CoDesign; Basic Love of Things (BLOT); Blind Boys; MP Ranjan.

UnBox: A festival of action at the intersections, February 24-27, 2011, Alliance Francaise and Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi.

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Comments [1]

Dear John
Its heartening to see you write about the design festival happening in Delhi next month in your blog. However it would have been great if you would have tweaked the material provided by the organizers a bit, personalised it and added your view on design in India, importance of such festivals happening in the sub continent.

It would have made it worth reading your blog more than ever. looking forward to seeing you at the festival.

Lisa Rath

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