i3 in India: Report-Back from Future Probe

Workshop at the i3 Spring Days 2000 - Glyfada, Athens, Greece, March 3rd 2000


In collaboration with the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Doors of Perception organised a professional workshop, and a public 'show-and-tell' event, in India in Februrary 2000. This event wa supported by i3 as a 'future probe' activity. The workshop is your first opportunity to find out what happened.

During the first five Doors of Perception conferences (1993-1998) Indian speakers such Kapila Vatsayan (Indira Ghandi National Centre for the Arts), Ranjit Makkuni (Xerox PARC), Sam Pitroda (WorldTel) and Jogi Panghaal helped the Doors audience look at issues of innovation and the internet from a fresh perspective. The February 2000 workshop continued that process. Its longer-term objective was to accelerate the exchange of people, knowledge and experiences between India, Europe and the US. In education, there is a clear need for support to design schools and universities sending groups to India. International design and media firms also need guidance in developing s collaborative research and design projects with Indian industries and designers.The i3 community will also benefit from documentation and evaluation of resources, tools, methods. The February workshop explored scenarios for meeting these needs.

Why India?
1: half the successsful start-ups in Silicon Valley are led by entrepreneurs of Indian origin; cricket is the fastest growing sport in Silicon Valley.
2: Cultural complexity as a context for innovation: India is a land of extraordinary complexity and diversity -a thriving, open, experimental society where several 'times' seem to co-exist at the same moment, and often in the same space.Here are 900 million people immersed in a 4000 year-old culture, much of it still alive and intact.There are 18 official languages, and more than 400 dialects.Contrasting geographies and climates are the setting for an amazing array of lifestyles. Hundreds of millions of people are engaged in basic agriculture - but India is also one of the world's most advanced industrial economies. India's 600,000 villages are home to farmers, forest based indegenous people and artisans. In vast and dynamic cities are some three hundred million service economy providers, an industrial labour force, and urban artisans - including the new artisans of information technology. India claims the third largest technical force of engineers and scientists in the world after the United States and Russia. This diversity fosters a huge range of solutions to everyday practcical and social needs. Ojects and places, skills and rituals, are combined in services that meet every conceivable need in every conceivable manner. Indian consumers appropriate and use products in unique ways, too. Even products made on assembly line are rendered unique and domesticated during use.

Who was involved from i3?
John Thackara, director of Doors of Perception (formerly chair of Presence and Maypoole); Marco Susani, from Domus Academy (Presence, Lime, Campiello), and Gillian Crampton Smith from the Royal College of Art (Presence).

What is the National Institute of Design?
The National Institute of Design (NID) is the main design school in India; its 250 or so undergraduate and graduate students come from all over the country, are generally very bright, and usually end up in influential positions.NID has strong international ties: Charles and Ray Eames were among those involved in developing its programme 20 years ago. NID is also conected to design centres at the celebrated Institutes of Technology in Bombay, Delhi and Guwahati. Other organisations that we expect to have connected with in the project include the Fashion Institutes of Technology (NIFT); the Institute of Craft in Jaipur; the Indira Ghandi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA)in Delhi. Doors and NID will also invite their high level contacts from among media and internet companies,newspapers, companies, non governmental organisations (NGOS).


The workshop is organized by:
John Thackara
Honthorststraat2, 1071-DD Amsterdam

Contact address for potential workshop attendees:

Last modification Jan. 27. 2000