Internship at LOCAL
I’ve been interning at a design studio in Mumbai called LOCAL for the past month. Their work is situated within the realm of branding but the studio founder has plans for the studio to create a new branch: a more experimental design lab, called LOCAL Labs, which we are currently planning the launch of. The aim of LOCAL Labs is to open up the dialogue around Indian graphic design through research and collaborations. My role in this project is to plan an exhibition to coincide with the launch. I’m having to consider the overall theme of the exhibition, what kind of work should be included and how it would be curated. As someone not from India, I feel like I’m viewing graphic design through an entirely new lens. This is exactly what I hoped to experience during DPS, to step outside of the Western bubble to explore the role of graphic design in other cultures and contexts. India is currently the fastest growing country in the world and over half the population is under 25, so it feels like a very exciting time to be working in design here!
Aside from LOCAL Labs, I’ve been working on:
I’m enjoying being part of a small team (there’s four of us) as I feel like I’m being exposed to all aspects of the design process. This isn’t always the positive stuff; last week one of the designers had some big issues with a print project and LOCAL had to bear the costs of the mistake. But on the flip side, I feel like I’m contributing in a meaningful way to a young studio. One thing which has surprised me is how quickly work can be done in a professional setting and decisions can be made. Last week, a client came to us needing a logo within five days. The deadline seemed very tight but we pulled together as a team and had eight options to present by the end of the week. It got me thinking about how I usually spend far too much time in the first stages of a project, waiting for the perfect idea, before I get going. I want to take with me the ability to quickly create multiple options in the first phase of a brief and then the confidence to move forward, irrespective of how much I love an idea. It’s better to just get started!
Aside from what I’m learning at my internship, working in India has thrust me head first into the realities of the country’s very prevalent social and economic inequalities. As I go about my day, I am constantly being confronted with examples of these inequalities. I can’t help but wonder, how can design be used to imagine new futures for India? These encounters have made me realise that I’m interested in how design can be used to bring about positive social change.
Eye Myth Festival
Last weekend, I attended Eye Myth Media Arts Festival in Mumbai. The day involved talks and workshops within the space of future forecasting, speculative design, design narratives and design fiction. I don’t have experience in any of these practises but as I’m interested in designing for the future, I thought it would be interesting to attend. The festival was organised by an interdisciplinary studio called Quicksand. One of its founders, Avinash Kumar, spoke about the power of speculative design to propose alternative realities, which can in turn help to address real world challenges.
Avinash said a few things which particularly stuck out to me:
- “Speculative design is to combine critical thinking with imagination and play”
- “In the context of living in India, everyone has to be responsible. Thinking about the future in an interesting, collaborative manner”
- “We envision scenarios that make daily life better”
- “The West doesn’t represent the future and India doesn’t represent the past”
- “Speculative design can create safe spaces for people from all genders and backgrounds to imagine different futures”
- “It feels like we’re being handed these shiny packages from the rest of the globe about what to do and how we should do it, but we’re trying to open up the discourse within India”
I learned that speculative design can be used in scenarios where conversation is quite difficult. Designers and collaborators can imagine anything from new tools and objects, to systems and spaces. You can then work backwards to see how these possibilities can be implemented into current day life. I took part in two group workshops, one about the future of food culture, led by Edible Issues, and one about a possible future society between 2020 and 2040, led by the architect Ayaz Basrai. I found the tasks quite challenging in the beginning as I’m new to the concept of speculative design, but as the workshops went on, I felt like I was getting a better feel for what it was about. The festival gave me some interesting topics to think about and I'd like to explore the topic of speculative design further. I'm also researching design studios in Europe with a social stance for my next internship.