Melbourne Forum 2011

State of Design Forum – The Visible Hand: What Made in India Means Today

Thursday 21 July 6-7:30pm
Yasuko Hiraoka Myer Room, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, University of Melbourne
Speakers include Moe Chiba (Head, Cultural Unit, UNESCO, New Delhi), Chris Godsell (architect with Peddel Thorp), Sara Thorn (fashion designer) and Soumitri Varadarajan (Industrial Design, RMIT)
Presented by Sangam: the Australia India Design Platform as part of the Ethical Design Laboratory in partnership with Australia India Institute, Australia Council, RMIT Centre for Design, City of Melbourne, Asialink and Craft Victoria

India is both one of the world’s leading economies and a treasury of cultural traditions. While in the past, many craftspeople and artists have travelled to India for creative inspiration, today new partnerships are emerging in design. Architects, fashion designers and industrial designers are finding new opportunities in the demand for production skills both inside and outside India. How can these opportunities be realised in a way that is both ethical and viable?

India has an enormous capacity of craft skill and tradition. But local demand is falling due to globalisation. Meanwhile, Western designers are finding new markets for these crafts in fashion and luxury goods. There is the potential for ‘Made in India’ label to signify more than the familiar formula for offshoring – cheap wages and low environmental standards.

Despite the prevalence of English, cultural differences between Australia and India can lead to much mis-communication. How can these differences be negotiated to enable productive partnerships? What’s been learnt so far by those who’ve forged paths betwen Australia and India?

This seminar is part of Sangam – the Australia India Design Platform, a series of forums and workshops over three years in Australia and India with the aim of creating a shared understanding for creative partnerships in product development. Sangam is based in the Ethical Design Laboratory at RMIT Centre for Design and is funded by the Australia Council and the Australia India Institute.

Design can play an important role in building partnerships in our region. Globalisation is now extending beyond the large-scale factories of southern China to include smaller village workshops in south Asia. This offers many opportunities for designers to create product that carries symbolic meaning. But to design product that is made in villages requires an understanding of their needs and concerns. This event is about design practice that moves between Australia and India. It is looking at how the stories of production can travel across the supply chain from village to urban boutique