Session 3: on systems thinking (very long post – with brief intro) - Ranjan

Brief Introduction:
Systems thinking as applied to design education: Some background to the
design scene in India and a case study of one course conducted at NID in
2001 that incorporates the lessons and processes of systems design as
introduced to Foundation students at NID by the author are included in
the long post below.

This submission is triggered by the excellent (and awesome) exposition
by Dr Wolfgang Jonas on his understanding of how systems modelling &
thinking can / and is applied to design action and design theory. From
his paper it is evident to me that while there are several shared
perspectives in design we may have many differences in our
interpretations of the field as well. (For instance I am not
particularly familiar with the mathematical and logic tools used in
dynamic systems modelling but I continue to use the concepts in design
education and practice). In his references however, I miss one from
Stafford Beer, “Platform for Change: a message from Stafford Beer”, John
Wiley & Sons, London 1975 which for me (personally) was the single most
influential source of systems application to the design and planning of
complex systems on a National scale, in this case Chile in the era of
President Dr. Salvador Allende, between 1971 to 1973.  

I am sharing a recent (unpublished) paper that I have prepared for a
design journal which may give the list an insight into the perspectives
for design in India (not generally available) and some of the processes
that we have followed in our own education programmes at NID as well as
my own interpretation of systems thinking as it could be applied to
complex and non-traditional design tasks, that is other than the design
of artefacts, communications, software and spaces. In this case study
reproduced below, the design tasks that were assigned to Foundation
students at NID dealt with the conception and articulation of new
institutional frameworks for design, each focussed on one selected
sector of the Indian economy in critical need of design action (in our
opinion – there was no client). The intention is to show that
application of design at the strategic level can be a very powerful tool
for the solving of very complex problems, involving many disciplines and
spheres of knowledge, that goes well beyond the usual scope of design
tasks as traditionally defined and taught in design curricula. Perhaps,
speculatively attempting to articulate a kind of design for future
generations of designers in India.

The rest of this post is the full paper titled “The Avalanche Effect: ….
” reproduced for the list as a case study on the application of systems
thinking concepts to design education at NID.

M P Ranjan
from my office at NID
1 December 2003 at 11.10 pm IST

The Avalanche Effect: Institutional frameworks and systems design as a
development resource in India.

Prof. M P Ranjan
Faculty of Design 
Head, NID Centre for Bamboo Initiatives
National Institute of Design
Paldi, Ahmedabad 380007 INDIA

In India the term “Beautification” is alluded to be the process of
making beautiful that which is not usually so and this is grossly
achieved by some superficial application of a coat of colour and some
impromptu decorations or by a general clean up operation, just in time,
before the visit of a political big-wig or dignitary and it is usually
executed in quite bad taste. The traditions of Indian culture on the
other hand are beautiful and enduring but their urban and modern
interpretations have been devoid of the exquisite qualities that the
Eames’s saw in the “Lota” that symbolised for them the elegance of
Indian design as it had evolved over the ages. This serious absence of
the use of Design as a critical discipline that supports the development
agenda of a nation struggling to find a foothold in a global marketplace
is truly appalling. I propose the term “Designification” as a
counterpoint, and call for a serious use of design as a tool and a
strategy for the development of all sectors of the Indian economy
particularly since it is so sorely missing from the nations policy
frameworks in almost all of these sectors of the economy, quite unlike
the prominent position given to the fields of Science, Technology,
Management and to some limited extent, the field of Art.

There is a pressing need for the “Designification” of our economy
through a rapidly expanded use of design in almost 230 sectors of the
Indian economy. The means to achieve this is limited by the current
framework of Institutions that can provide the human resources, the
research initiatives and the sustained knowledge resources that are
needed to support this massive but achievable task. Design in India is
sorely under invested in and much change is needed to mobilise the power
of design for the development of so many sectors in need. The current
levels of investments in design are at appallingly low levels when
compared to the investments being made in science, technology and
management institutions in the past and as a continuing activity today.
It is argued that the such investments made in the past have failed to
solve the critical need of creating the required innovations and while a
number of technological innovations have resulted from these investments
very little of this has been translated into useable products and
services primarily because there has been a corresponding lack of
investments in design

Defining Design for Development
I must fall back on some of my previous writings to create a framework
of definitions and ideas that can put in context the views that I have
expressed above and to build the foundation for the strategies that I
propose in this paper for the development of a design initiative for the
country as a whole. Last year I used the opportunity of addressing the
first National Design Summit in Bangalore to touch upon some of these
issues and to take a long look at the last forty years or so of design
education and practise in India in a paper titled “Cactus Flowers Bloom
in a Dessert” (Ranjan 2001) that tried to capture the struggle that the
design community in India have put up over the years in the face of
extreme deprivation of resources and support from Industry and
Government alike. The paper built upon some of the arguments that I had
proposed in previous papers on the role of design in the Indian economy
with specific reference to the lopsided manner in which investments had
been made in India with reference to design and technology education and
research. In my paper titled “Design Before Technology” (Ranjan 1999) I
had argued that India was losing out in its search for sustainable
development by ignoring the investment needs of the design sector and
although massive investments had been made in the science and technology
sectors we were acutely short of innovative products and services that
could only be achieved through the use of design as a layer over the
investments made so far.

In an even earlier paper titled “Levels of Design Interventions” (Ranjan
1998) I had outlined four levels at which design action and research
could be perceived in the context of a complex global scenario. While
design at the ‘Tactical level’ used the fairly well recognised skills
and sensitivities of a designer the other levels were ignored to a large
extent in India that in fact needed these levels more than the first
which usually resulted in aesthetic and functional solutions. The three
other levels that I had proposed in my model were the ‘Elaborative’, the
‘Creative’ and the ‘Strategic’ levels, each that addressed the needs of
market complexity, innovation and intellectual property issues and the
third the application of vision and anticipatory strategies that the
highest level of design affords, respectively. At this level design uses
scenarios and maps opportunities to create visionary scenarios that can
foster completely new industries and these approaches need the
collaboration of teams drawn from many disciplines to build solutions
and frameworks that can transform the country in many fundamental ways
from a resource poor perspective to one of abundance from the
mobilisation of integrated resources that work in synergetic ways due to
the efforts of such multi-disciplinary design teams. Design at the
strategic level also sets the agenda for many forms of research to be
done by a large number of disciplines based on a shared vision of the
future that is desirable and can find administrative, political and
entrepreneurial supports.

The systems model of design that some of teachers adopted at the
National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, for building courses and
to conduct our research and client interventions had over the years
given us the conviction that design in India is quite different from
that which is practised in the West. Design for development has been
discussed at many platforms for discourse on design, many a time leading
utter confusion with the debate being clouded by as many differing
definitions of design as there are people in the room. Notwithstanding
this difficulty with the subject as complex as design we need to use the
power of this discipline to further the real needs of a huge population
desperately seeking solutions to many vexing problems in a very tight
economic climate. It is our belief that design at the strategic level
can be used as a catalytic tool to mobilise innovations and policies
that can indeed transform the country in more ways than one that
provides the substance for the title of this paper ‘The Avalanche
Effect’ since a relatively small investment in design can indeed produce
incredible change in each of the sectors that have been identified by us
through a process of investigation on the state of the national economy
from a design perspective over the years. We have seen glimpses of this
effect wherever policy and action have embraced design in even small
ways in the past and the results shown have been dramatic. The two areas
that I have personal experience in are the Crafts sector and the Bamboo
sector, both of which have made the moves needed to create Institutions
and investments to use design along with an integrated mobilisation of
investments in related projects and research initiatives at our behest. 

Design Education: Perspectives in India
In 1991 as part of a committee set up to prepare a curriculum for the
proposed Accessory Design programme in Delhi, I had the opportunity to
create a structure for perhaps the first of the sector specific
programmes in Design offered outside the NID at Ahmedabad. The Garment
and Accessory Sectors were growing rapidly in India driven by massive
exports and the low wage regime that prevailed at that time. The
Ministry of Textiles had developed a substantial cash reserve from the
cess on these export earnings that it was obliged to use for the
development initiatives in that sector. The National Institute of
Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi, had been set up using this
initiative as an integrated Institution for the creation of human
resources to provide quality service to this booming industry. The
structure of the curriculum that was conceived for the NIFT programme
followed inputs and assignments in four broad domains of focus, each
with its own special knowledge and skill sets, to be offered to students
as lectures, assignments and practical projects and field exposure
modules respectively. While the domain of design covered core design
sensibilities through courses in basic design, and action capabilities
being strengthened with design management and design methodologies, the
domain of the subject introduced knowledge specific to the areas of
product categories that came under its mandate such as jewellery,
footwear, bags and travel artefacts, and belts and items of clothing,
toys, gifts and other such areas each of which needed specific knowledge
to be handled with competence. The domain of Industry was identified to
provide students with the tools and concepts of the trade since each
industry segment had its own norms and practises and lastly the domain
of the user or the consumer was introduced to understand needs and
processes in the marketplace.

This four-pronged structure was developed further while I was involved
in the curriculum review exercise at the NID in 1992 – ‘94. All the
courses offered at that time, over 250 of them across almost nine
disciplines, were reviewed by our committee with very detailed
presentations from the teachers who were responsible to conduct each one
of these. The four-pronged structure of the domains of Design, the
Subject, the Industry and the User/Consumer were used to locate each of
the courses and to determine the methodology to be followed by way of
assignments and theory. This brought a lot of clarity to the exercise
and helped the committee make a number of corrective recommendations
that shaped the texture of these courses and their content and delivery
structure. After many years of following borrowed curricula from the
west we were examining our teaching resources and methods in a great
detail with reference to the complex context that were being perceived
in India. This was review process was the culmination of a number of
initiatives and discussions that had taken place at the NID campus, none
of which were unfortunately published, since all of these discussions,
held behind closed doors, in the NID’s Faculty Forum were labelled as
confidential and made available only to its faculty and the Governing
Council as abridged notes and references. However the course information
structure improved considerably with the introduction of the course
abstract paper that was made mandatory for each course conducted at NID
and the review process saw the articulation and assembly of all the
course abstracts into a multi-volume set that was placed in the NID
Resource Centre as the Master Abstracts Set.

The fact that NID had only published its Syllabus and detailed course
descriptions only twice in the past thirty years (1970 and 1982) made
these course abstracts all the more valuable. The information about the
relationship between courses was contained in a tabular flow chart that
shows the sequence of the courses and the time duration for each while
the time table that was prepared and released each semester showed the
timings, dates and the names of teachers responsible for each course.
This stark absence of publications about the fields of application of
design from NID (and other design schools in India) was a subject of
much debate at NID Faculty Forum but the action taken left much to be
desired and is perhaps singly responsible for the poor acceptance of
design services in the sectors that need it the most even though so many
successful forays had been made into these difficult and complex domains
by the Institute, its faculty and students over the years. However, the
students and faculty who were in the midst of the great happenings,
explorations and debates did benefit from this significant exposure to
both quality and content of these debates and in these years the NID
product, its students and alumni, form the spearhead of the design
initiative in India, albeit in small numbers but still sufficient to
make an impact in some sectors through a sustained body of work
generated over the years The other design schools in the country too had
their share of successes in various fields and these were facilitated by
their location or by their affiliation to a different Ministry from
which they drew their funds. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT)
in Mumbai (1970), Delhi (1985) and Guwahati (1996) started programmes in
Industrial design while the NIFT expanded its reach by setting up
centres in Mumbai. Calcutta, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Bangalore and
Chennai in rapid succession in the late nineties. In the private sector
two new schools were set up in Delhi and Bangalore as the pressure for
admissions to the existing schools and the demand for the design
professionals was rising in the country. Most of these schools used NID
trained designers as their teaching resource either as full time
teachers or as a visiting faculty resource.

Design Initiatives: New Institutions
In 1991 I was involved in an assignment aimed at the articulation of a
feasibility report for a school of crafts studies in Jaipur. The result
was the setting up of the Indian Institute of Crafts and Design (IICD),
Jaipur, by the State Government of Rajasthan on the premise that design
as defined by us in that report was a critical tool for the development
of the crafts sector as a whole and a national mandate was given to the
new Institute. The model that was proposed in that report projected the
crafts in India as an economic and social activity that could liberate a
very large number of decentralised and self-sustaining activities that
required a very low capital base to initiate and to grow. The domain of
craft was studied in most design Institutes in India by then as a means
of sensitising Indian designers to the complexities of rural industries
and to explore the need for alternate frameworks for action in India
outside the organised industrial sector that seemed least interested in
the efforts of the design community here. However this was the first
time that a dedicated Institution was set up to address the needs of the
crafts sector that was already contributing a substantial amount of
employment and foreign exchange from the export activities that were
growing year on year since the country became an independent nation. The
need for design to lead the initiatives of this sector was by now
established by numerous success stories of design interventions in this
particular sector. NID was at the forefront of these interventions in
the crafts sector through its craft documentation exercises that had
mapped the cultural resources of the country in very detailed studies
conducted over the years. These too remained unpublished to a large
extent but were available for limited review to students and faculty in
the Resource Centre. The IICD, Jaipur will be sending out its first
batch of students this year and it is well on its way to building a
focused body of knowledge that can assist design initiatives in the
crafts sector.

The next major demand in Institution building for design education and
research came from the Bamboo sector that had started looking up after a
series of initiatives in recent years. The Bamboo and Cane Development
Institute that existed at Agartala for many years as a training section
for young craftsmen was restructured last year at the request of the
Development Commissioner of Handicrafts (DC-H), Government of India as
part of their National Bamboo development initiative being supported by
the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) in India. NID’s
extensive study of the Bamboo Crafts of the Northeast India and the
numerous papers and design projects that projected the use of bamboo as
a sustainable resource brought us into a strategic relationship with the
Government of India and UNDP in initiatives that gave us the opportunity
to demonstrate the power design action at a strategic level. At the
request of the UNDP I was involved in articulating the vision report for
the National Bamboo Initiative that resulted in a report titled “From
the Land to the People: Bamboo as a sustainable Human Development
Resource” (Ranjan 1999). This report was built around six scenarios that
were design visualisations that placed a sequence of inputs, events and
innovations that could spearhead a veritable bamboo revolution if
implemented in form and spirit. In the months that followed, a number of
intensive design explorations have created a climate of sustained
investments into this sector from as many as ten State Governments and
numerous national and non-governmental agencies. The DC-H increased its
allocation to the bamboo initiatives and asked for an improved
infrastructure for training and design development. Once again the
feasibility report that we developed called for an integrated approach
with design at the core of the Institution and the activities covering
four clear subject domains. The revamped Institution would focus on
Plantation studies since bamboo is a natural material suitable for
agricultural development, Product Innovation, Technology Innovation and
Market Research studies to sustain a creative design climate that would
inform all the activities and set the agenda for research and action in
all areas of bamboo related knowledge.

While the major national Institutes for design that were set up over the
years continue to perform their tasks of design education and research,
the massive need anticipated from all 230 sectors of our economy in need
of design resources and sector specific knowledge is still largely
un-addressed. The two new sectoral Institutes that we helped set up, the
IICD and the BCDI were relatively easier to fund and create since the
message to the stake holders was more focussed and the funding agencies
saw value in each offering since the results could be funnelled directly
into their ongoing activities and thus justified in internal
communications and through the complicated sanctioning process of
Government.  It is also easier for industries from within the sector to
see direct benefits and to align themselves to such Institutes and –
while design is a general discipline – a great deal of domain specific
competence is also needed by the industries and promotional agencies
alike. It was this premise that I brought to my class last year when I
asked the group of Foundation students at NID to look at the Indian
economy and to try and build macro-economic models for design action in
India. The development of this course at NID is also a very significant
aspect of this discourse. Over the years the definition of design has
shifted in many directions, each pulled along a different vector by a
vocal advocate of an inherent quality of design. Leaders of design
thinking that influenced NID education were many early international
visitors to the Institute such as Charles and Ray Eames, Armin Hofman,
Louis Khan, Frei Otto and others and authors of some critical books made
available to the faculty and students of the Institute by its presence
in the Resource Centre which was always well stocked and protected, and
in the context of design theory the works of Christopher Alexander, John
Chris Jones and Bruce Archer and the publications from the  Bauhaus, the
hfg Ulm, and the Basel school of graphic design come to the top of my
mind. Many of these books were subjects of great debate on the campus
and they provided the intellectual stimulus to some of us who were
interested in such discussions.

Design Theory: New Frameworks
The Design Methods course provided the limited framework for discourse
on design theory at NID and in the mid seventies the course went through
its first metamorphosis with the appearance of the environmental agenda
into the Foundation Programme being introduced by the then coordinator
and teacher Mohan Bhandari and this layer has persisted over the years.
I started teaching this course in 1982 soon after Mohan Bhandari left
NID and by then I had started bringing in my own convictions to this
course in some tentative way at first and later with a more definite
value orientation that is reflected in my own engagement with design
research and practise over these years in the crafts, bamboo and small
industry perspectives and later in the domain of digital design all
informed by the context that is India. The case material and the
concepts being developed caused me to change the name of this course to
Design Concepts and Concerns (DCC) in the mid nineties. In this period
we also embraced systems design philosophies that came to be accepted at
the senior years of the industrial design programmes at NID and its
intellectual bearings came from the works of Stafford Beer and Gui
Bonsiepe besides Buckminister Fuler and Victor Papanek. Bonsiepe’s books
and documentations of the work in Argentina and Brazil continued the
thought processes started at the hfg Ulm and brought a new perspective
that of the difference between design in the West and that of the
Periphery and its associated social and economic implications.

For me the Design Concepts and Concerns course became a platform to
revisit the domain of theory each year after several fresh and new
experiences in research and practise during that year since all NID
faculty are expected to teach, research and practise within the
Institutional studio and professional practise framework. Design
Concepts and Concerns is about Finding, Knowing, Doing and Feeling, the
last word of the quartet being the most important in my opinion. Which
is why the name of my course was changed from Design Methodology that
was used in the sixties to suggest that design was a scientific
discipline and later on it was called Design Process to suggest that it
was steeped in good management but now we understand that t is neither
Science nor management and it certainly is not Art. I changed the name
of my course without official sanction several years ago since NID gave
a great deal of latitude to its teachers to experiment and evolve their
courses as they too developed a better understanding of their subject. I
am grateful for this liberty as a teacher but bemoan the fact that many
colleagues do not read enough and pursue an intellectual debate to argue
these positions nor do they understand these ideas fully nor support
these views from a form of apathy that seems to permeate our
intellectual landscape.  My model for the “Profile of the Emerging
Designer” that I use in my class to sensitise design students to the
range of possible professional profiles was first published in 1994 at a
seminar on design education at the IDC in Mumbai provided a framework to
look at all design professions from this tetrahedral view of the skills
and knowledge base of a design professional. (Ranjan 1994)

No one is comfortable when we talk about ourselves as designers in India
and the role that we should, could, or would play as a designer in the
Indian context. It is the context that gives us the shakes. We get
perplexed at the sheer size and complexity and cannot see where to begin
or we see the opportunities for our special skills at the comfortable
and special end of the economy where about two percent of our population
lives and push away our sense of guilt when someone asks us about the
other 98 percent and our contribution to these people or even the middle
60 percent of India. However all our students know that design as we are
discussing it in the DCC class is about looking, knowing and doing what
needs to be done, however uncomfortable. Doing it thoughtfully,
skilfully and with a great degree of empathy for the user. The value
orientation in this class is deliberate and the model of the designer as
a tetrahedron of vertices with Finding, Knowing and Doing as its base
and the most important quadrant, in my view is the apex, which is that
of Feeling. This is what we bring to our students each year and
throughout their stay at NID.

Strategic Design and New Education
Last year with the Foundation class of 2001 we were compelled to
innovate our teaching strategy because our city of Ahmedbad was
seriously affected by the continuous bouts of rioting that prevented the
usual movement of students into the field for user centered studies.
Therefore we decided to look at macro economic issues as our point of
reference for this particular course in design thinking. The results wee
startling to say the least. The “Concept Mela”, a sort of concept
sharing exposition, which the students put up at the end of the course
shared visualisations and explorations that the seven groups of students
had created and each was the proposed framework for a sector specific
initiative for design action in India. These explorations were informed
by a series of brain storming sessions and the usual lectures and
coupled group assignments that followed the structure that this course
has been known for at the NID. This time however the young students were
in the process of transforming India from a resource poor country to a
self confident and successful economy that it can be since nobody told
them that this was not possible, the sceptics were missing. They were
told to research the various macro parameters and use the NID faculty
and senior students as their immediate source of expert consultants. The
groups formed went through a progression of assignments at building
models of the economy with a view to discover structural relationships
and functional proximities between related industries and economic
sectors. Five groups looked at the same issues and discussed these with
great enthusiasm and captured the major attributes of these sectors and
their interrelationships by a process of brainstorming and discussion.
The thus identified parameters were arranged using Post-it stickers into
intermediate structures and based on a consensus within the team and
amongst the consultants that they chose to involve.

The resultant structures were represented the form of presentation
posters, each using a suitable metaphor for organising the elements. The
five groups had five different models but several aspects of these
overlapped and some models were more amenable to further manipulations
than the others. However at this stage all the students were highly
motivated and demonstrated a very high degree of clarity about these
macro economic parameters and their impact on the National economy and
its related issues and contexts. One group proposed a Ministry of Design
and divided the economy into basic producers (primary), processors
(secondary) and services. The representation was in the form of a city
road map with a downtown circle that had the three forks, one for each
category, which got further divided into a branching diagram that
accommodated all the individual sectors identified by the group. (Fig
not included). Another group selected to depict the economy as a Venn
diagram with here major areas of economy, ecology and society with the
interstices of these accommodating the critical sectors that needed
inputs across these areas. (Fig not included) Yet another interesting
strategy was to look at the interrelationships between a few key-driving
parameters and this was represented as an interactive wheel where the
outer circle defined the individual sectors where design could and
should play a critical role, and these numbered 230 in all. (Fig not included)

Design Initiatives: Sector Specific Strategies
The efforts of the students and the resultant flow of ideas was further
supplemented by a series of lectures by the author on the institutional
frameworks that were needed to make this initiative a reality in India.
I shared the work done for the two institutes dealing with crafts sector
and the bamboo sector with the students and asked them to identify
specific opportunities that they could locate for immediate action in
the Indian context. The teams were further divided into seven and this
time the students were permitted to join teams that they could align
themselves with on a personal interest and ideology basis. The result
was startling and the motivation levels kept these students active in
groups on an almost round the clock basis in a seemingly
inextinguishable flow of energy and creativity.  Each group created
panels that described the issues visually and built models to share
their vision of the proposed framework for action, each in a small panel
based exhibit that could be taken to the public. This time we invited
the public into our campus, and over two days of intense interactions,
the students got a great deal of feedback and critique from a large
number of visitors. Seven sectors were selected from a larger list of
possible choices and the Institutional frameworks developed to address
these are as follows:

1. Badal (Monsoon Clouds)
Proposed as a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), the metaphor of the
monsoon clouds is used to describe a process for strengthening
micro-enterprises through the use of research, assimilation, refinement
and delivery of know how to the micro-entrepreneurs just as the clouds
perform a function of delivering rain to the people. This is way of
understanding self-employment strategies of some successful people in
one part of India and to be able to share these with the others in need.

2. Udaan (Flight of the Spirit)
A strategy for the empowerment, modernisation and for Information
Technology enabling of rural India with a deep understanding of the
needs of this particular community or groups of such communities
distributed all over the country, each in their own environment and
unique cultural and linguistic space.

3 Aavriti (A Platform for Change) 
The child and its activities are the focus of this initiative. The
design opportunities area of toys, games and active education are
addressed in this framework. India does not have a single agency that is
capable of embracing the design needs of children although they form
almost 60 percent of the total population.

4. EDD (Education Design Developments)
The proposed network of designers would work towards improving the
quality of education in India. The design needs of the education sector
are both complex and fund starved at the same time. The use of the web
and face to face strategies form the basis of this design scenario that
could build a network of designers with teachers, students and other
interested specialist contributors.

5. SEEDS (School of Ecological Design Studies)
This organisation fosters a holistic approach to issues of environment
through education, research and action strategies that are unique to the
problems of India. The belief system embedded in this proposal assumes
progress through a two way learning process in building contemporary
design solutions and in learning from the traditional wisdom of an
established society.

6. Green Dots (Design Organisation for Sustainable Transport Systems)
Transportation strategies that do not damage that environment need to be
innovated and made acceptable to our society if the quality of life in
our cities and villages is to improve. This strategy includes the use of
novel solutions and sustained information campaigns to build acceptable
models with the involvement of people.

7. IID (Institute of Interface Design)
To supplement India’s software engineering strengths there is a need for
the capacity to make products that are usable and appropriate for a wide
section of indigenous users and for export needs. The proposed framework
and associated scenarios fill a real need for value added approaches to
enhance the interface design capabilities of our existing software industry.

This effort gave us a glimpse of concepts that were both necessary and
achievable. The next stage in this course led to the development of
scenarios by each student of one sub-opportunity that they individually
felt could help precipitate the necessary investments or action in the
sector of their choice. The fact that these explorations reached
concrete action plans with well-defined objectives and a visual
expression of the possible scenarios made it easy for visitors, senior
students and faculty to engage in a deep discussion on the merits and
risks of each specific approach. This is the hallmark of design thinking
and action that is rooted in the domain of the visual scenario that can
locate the discourse at the macro level and at the micro level
simultaneously. The future of design too lies somewhere along this path
and we can and must find new roles for design in the production of
images that can inform decision processes, some of which are so complex
that they need many iterations and political mediations to resolve in an
amicable manner. Most importantly these design processes need the
involvement and partnership of a multitude of stakeholders and such
visualisations make the concepts, decisions and issues available for
visual review in a transparent and understandable manner that fosters
long term partnership needed to achieve the lofty results. Design at
this level has the ingredients to create the avalanche effect, a great
positive mobilisation, an overwhelming quantity of something hopefully
new and beneficial, with a very small designerly effort.

1. Charles and Ray Eames, The India Report, Government of India, New
Delhi, 1958, reprint, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 1997
2. Richard Buckminister Fuller, Ideas and Integrities: A spontaneous
autobiographical disclosure, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1963
3. Thomas Maldonado, Gui Bonsiepe, Renate Kietzmann et al., eds, “Ulm (1
to 21): Journal of the Hoschule fur Gestaltung”, Hoschule fur
Gestaltung, Ulm, 1958 to 1968
4. Hans M. Wingler, The Bauhaus: Weimer, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago, The
MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1969
5. Victor Papanek, Design for the Real World, Thames & Hudson Ltd.,
London, 1972
6. Stafford Beer, Platform for Change, John Wiley & Sons, London, 1975
7. M P Ranjan, Nilam Iyer & Ghanshyam Pandya, Bamboo and Cane Crafts of
Northeast India, Development Commissioner of Handicrafts, New Delhi, 1986
8. Herbert Lindinger, Hoschule fur Gestaltung - Ulm, Die Moral der
Gegenstande, Berlin, 1987
9. Kirti Trivedi ed., Readings from Ulm, Industrial Design Centre,
Bombay, 1989
10. J A Panchal and M P Ranjan, “Institute of Crafts: Feasibility Report
and Proposal for the Rajasthan Small Industries Corporation”, National
Institute of Design, Ahmedabad 1994
11. M P Ranjan, “Design Education at the Turn of the Century: Its
Futures and Options”, a paper presented at ‘Design Odyssey 2010’ design
symposium, Industrial Design Centre, Bombay 1994
12. National Institute of Design, “35 years of Design Service:
Highlights – A greeting card cum poster”, NID, Ahmedabad, 1998
13. M P Ranjan, “The Levels of Design Intervention in a Complex Global
Scenario”, Paper prepared for presentation at the Graphica 98 - II
International Congress of Graphics Engineering in Arts and Design and
the 13th National Symposium on Descriptive Geometry and Technical
Design, Feira de Santana, Bahia, Brazil, September 1998.
14. S Balaram, Thinking Design, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 1998
15. Gui Bonsiepe, Interface: An approach to Design, Jan van Eyck
Akademie, Maastricht, 1999
16. M P Ranjan, “Design Before Technology: The Emerging Imperative”,
Paper presented at the Asia Pacific Design Conference ‘99 in Osaka,
Japan Design Foundation and Japan External Trade Organisation, Osaka, 1999
17. M P Ranjan, “From the Land to the People: Bamboo as a sustainable
human development resource”, A development initiative of the UNDP and
Government of India, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 1999
18. M P Ranjan, “Rethinking Bamboo in 2000 AD”, a GTZ-INBAR conference
paper reprint, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2000
19. M P Ranjan, “Cactus Flowers Bloom in the Desert”, paper presented at
the National Design Summit, Bangalore, 2001
20. John Chris Jones, “The Internet and Everyone”, Ellipses, London,
2000 and website
21. M P Ranjan, Yrjo Weiherheimo, Yanta H Lam, Haruhiko Ito & G
Upadhayaya, “Bamboo Boards and Beyond: Bamboo as the sustainable,
eco-friendly industrial material of the future”, (CD-ROM) UNDP-APCTT,
New Delhi and National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001 
22. M P Ranjan, Bamboo and Cane Development Institute, Feasibility
report for the proposed National Institute to be set up by the
Development Commissioner of Handicrafts, Government of India, National
Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, 2001

Prof. M P Ranjan 
Faculty of Design
Head, NID Centre for Bamboo Initiatives
Faculty Member on the Governing Council
National Institute of Design
Ahmedabad 380007
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Fax: 91+79+6605242
Home: 91+79+6610054
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