De­sign, Cul­ture, and His­tory: The Idea of Ob­jects in Mod­ern and Con­tem­po­rary In­dia

sem­i­nar

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Sem­i­nar held un­der the aegis of The KR Cama Ori­en­tal In­stitue, Mum­bai, and cu­rated by Kai­wan Me­hta De­sign has been a com­plex term that has cir­cu­lated in the ar­eas of mak­ing things, the shape of ob­jects, the ideas of how we use things in our ev­ery­day lives, to the ideas of art and lifestyle. How­ever, in the last two decades the pop­u­lar cur­rency of this term has been on a spe­cial rise. Eco­nomic lib­er­al­i­sa­tion brought about an ex­po­sure to ob­jects of vary­ing kinds that ex­ist be­yond the ba­sic val­ues of func­tion and use, or even art and beauty. Ob­jects have a draw that is of­ten dif­fi­cult to ex­plain, yet de­sign has been an area where one imag­ines the pos­si­bil­ity to solve prob­lems of life, liveli­hood, and the abil­ity to cope with a chang­ing world. De­sign has be­come a quo­tient of lifestyle, more to­day than ever be­fore, and of­ten even gets com­pared to artis­tic prac­tices. But De­sign has also be­come a key­word in man­age­ment pro­fes­sional cir­cles and dis­cussed un­der the rubric of De­sign Think­ing or ideas of In­no­va­tion that are nec­es­sary for surviving in highly com­pet­i­tive spa­ces and net­works of pro­duc­tion and in­vest­ment — eco­nomic as well as in­tel­lec­tual. In this sce­nario it be­comes im­per­a­tive to in­ves­ti­gate the his­tory of de­sign not only in In­dia and the sub-con­ti­nent but also un­der­stand and de­bate the cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance of de­sign and de­sign ob­jects. The con­fer­ence will de­bate the re­la­tion­ships be­tween De­sign, and the ideas of Cul­ture and Civil­i­sa­tion, or De­sign shap­ing ‘na­tional ob­jects’, and will also dis­cuss in­sti­tu­tions and in­di­vid­u­als that have played cru­cial roles in this field and his­tory. Dis­cussing ques­tions of labour and craft, or themes such as the Re­gional or the Ver­nac­u­lar, the sem­i­nar will end with some thoughts on con­tem­po­rary de­sign in a post-lib­er­alised econ­omy of In­dia. The speak­ers at the con­fer­ence in­clude An­na­purna Garimella, Abigail McGowan, Kavita Singh, Ta­p­ati GuhaThakurta, Tas­neem Me­hta, Ran­jit Hoskote, Rahul Mehro­tra, Mus­tan­sir Dalvi, A. Sri­vath­san, Deepti Mul­gund, Ra­haab Al­lana, Sudeshna Guha, Gauri Bharat, Seema Khan­walkar, Judy Frater, Radhi Parekh, Abin Chaud­huri and Kai­wan Me­hta. The Sem­i­nar will be held on 5 and 6 Jan­uary 2019 at the Dr Sir J J Modi Memo­rial Hall at the K R Cama Ori­en­tal In­sti­tute, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mum­bai. For reg­is­tra­tion (in­clu­sive of a fee) and other en­quiries, call 91-22-22843893 or email kr­ca­[email protected]

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