Given the big issue of sanitation faced by India, Thorsten Kiefer’s talk threw light on how to use sport and harness the power of sports-stars to reach people, provide positive influences and change habits of sanitation and hygiene (which is the campaign mantra of the work Wash United does in India). “Building toilets doesn’t necessarily translate to using toilets" said Kiefer, emphasizing on the need to understand what poor people want from the toilets in their homes (the function, the location, the facilities etc.) in order to enable successful adoption of its use.
Voices : Daniel Joachim Christian Gross & Joris Maltha (Catalogtree)
Highly inspired by the organisational techniques of Stanley Kubrick on the sets of Sparticus, where the famed director allotted each extra on the set with a number to ease the process of direction. The Catalogtree duo talked about the role of a designer as a Director of Information. Their presentation toyed with the idea of how things design themselves and the importance of facilitation the starting point of an evolution where information can picture itself. Most crucially, as a designer one can create and define a system in which patterns can be perceived, understood and evolve naturally.
Thank You, Thanks, Thanks very much, Thank you again
Voices: Merel Snel & Loes Verstappen (75B)
75B, a design studio based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, has been described as embodying the main characteristics of modern Dutch design: "conceptual, simple, no-nonsense, ironical and tongue-in-cheek" Their presentation at Unbox highlighted the ability and the importance of designers to strike a balance between creative freedom and client demands. Unlike artists, designers are some times limited in the expression of their work because they also have to cater to what the client wants. It thus becomes essential to find ways by which one can infuse a sense of freedom and play into one’s work, to foster the creative process - which studio 75B consistently strives to achieve.
Panel: Parmesh Shahani (Godrej-India Culture Lab), Archana Prasad (Jaaga) and Richard Van der Laken & Pepijn Zurburg (What Design Can Do)
Centered around questioning and understanding the clear definition of the term ‘curation’, the panel discussed if there was an ideology with which each of them curated their work. In the current climate of emerging subcultures, is a part of curation just editing and distilling the multiple processes they are exposed to? In other words, the panel reflected on whether curation was a form of authorship, or agency.
Panel: Indrajit Hazra, Satyanand Nirupam and Anirban Mukherjee
Sparking off an interesting contrast of opinions between India and Bharat, the panelists both, agreed and disagreed on the various divides that exist in the idea and representation of India as a nation. Through the spectrum of India Vs. Bharat, and a national identity Vs. the state or regional identities, the panelists spoke about one’s understanding of the nation state, and the importance of constantly redefining what being an Indian meant. The session ended with an acknowledgement of the requirement to balance the so called ‘new India’ and an older, more ‘traditional Bharat’ without compromising on either.
The first panel on DAY 2 of the UnBox Conference looked at Habitat & Community through the lens of architecture. All panelists presented samples of their work, and the philosophy behind it, demonstrating how being an architect meant a lot more than just designing spaces. Creating a space that is mindful of the community that it exists in (history, geography, tradition, ritual) require collaborations with multiple disciplines. An architect must be inspired by a ‘public value duty’ where the structure of the project is sensitive to not only current needs, but also future requirements.
Hendzel+Hunt construct furniture from reclaimed and waste materials sourced from the neighboring streets, making the pieces both local and environmental. They also strive to bridge the gap between creativity and engineering.
Their work is a fine example of designing and building with sustainability in mind. Hendzel + Hunt also led an interactive workshop after this presentation where they invited some of the participants to create furniture on their own with the materials supplied to them. Talk about learning from doing!
According to Marije, food as it exists in nature is already perfectly designed. There is no requirement to design it further. Her interests lie instead, on the processes involved in consumption. WHAT one eats. HOW one eats it.
Designing the ephemeral process of eating becomes rather fluid as things change, grow, decompose and take shape of their their own.
Panel - Adarsh Kumar, Aditi Ranjan (NID), Christine Facella ( Beetle & Flor), M P Ranjan (NID)
In the third panel on day 1 of the UnBox conference, our panelists analyzed the existing crafts sector in India, and the need to begin conversations about collaborations, cooperation and scalability.
A consensus on the need for creative industries to foster connections between creative stakeholders - the designer, artisan and market was discussed. It is increasingly becoming imperative to come together to design systems and processes which can help artisans themselves, businesses and consumers: the traditional and modern designs need to be superimposed and repurposed into a collaborative market-facing effort for a sustainable crafts economy.
“The owl from Bengal embodies the form, function, material, and skill that defines the work of a craftsman.” This is what Aditi Ranjan began her short talk with.
The publication “Handmade in India” contains exhaustive and comprehensive information on crafts and skills and hopes to serve as a rich directory and encyclopedic resource on crafts of India.
The focus of this presentation was on the ingenuity of the Indian craftsman. It made visible the importance of documenting the knowledge and skills that remain within the depths of rich oral traditions and making them available to others.
Panel: V Padmanabhan (Royal Enfield), V Sunil (W+K) and Gerry Hopkins (Unity)
In a consumer driven world, where branding equals success, the philosophy that drives the creation of an image is key. This morning’s second panel focused on the experiences behind enterprise and branding.
The big idea that emerged from the panel discussion and presentations was about creating a brand that consumers truly loved. “Something they bought into, and not just bought”. This began with engaging customers during the creation of the brand: involving their preferences, and feedback, and making the experience a personalized one. This method sharply contrasts the current climate of advertising and brand creation, where products are first created, and brainwashed into beliefs we swear by, later.
Panel: Stalin (Video Volunteers) and Sonali Khan (Breakthrough)
Our first panel this morning opened with a call for more democratic approaches to generating media content. According to Stalin, if we are to change what is being said, we must change WHO says it. By giving a voice (in this case, low cost solutions enabled by technology, like a camera) to the marginalized, one can change the very narrative of development and governance. We then truly, allow the people to speak for themselves.
And taking digital activism a step further, Sonali brought to the table, an extremely important aspect: How does one use the mainstream media to talk about issues that aren’t glamorous? Issues like domestic violence that nobody wants to talk about. And more importantly, how does one create awareness in a way that people cannot just turn away from, or ignore.
The UnBox Festival kicks off tonight with its Opening Act: The Light Surgeons.
For the UnBox Team however, things have been moving at a breakneck speed for much longer. But the speakers + workshop anchors + fellows + participants are all finally here. The team is rearing and (almost) ready to go. And last evening, there was an informal meet for all the fellows and anchors too. People have been acquainted. Conversations have begun. Ideas have (hopefully) been ignited.
The UnBox Festival, only in its second consecutive year of being, began from a simple idea: there is an infinite amount of innovation, creative thinking, cultural reinterpretation and research & documentation that is taking place in all parts of the world. This has led to the emergence of multiple sub-cultures of experimental art forms, new media developments, and sustainable living practices. But the interaction between these amazing forms of approaching the world remain within limited and exclusive spaces.
So UnBox, placing itself at the intersection of multiple disciplines, seeks to stir this complacency in a way that could have potentially big results (or small too). We start here: to build a platform where an exchange of knowledge and ideas can take place. We insist on this: all the myriad activities that have been put together look at original thinking, and new ways of going foward in a world that cannot exist for long enough with adapting to sustainable ways of functioning. And we encourage: real impact solutions and projects.
Finally: we welcome and invite every one of the curious minds in you to learn. But more importantly, to also unlearn and unbox!
And even better: for those of you who cant make it to the festival (this year), I’ll keep the blog updated on daily events and behind the scenes. We also have our documentation partners, Now Delhi Films and Lucida that will be capturing a range of experiences through film and photography, so keep a look out for what they churn out too.