I described in my post ‘Why India and why Idiom’? how I joined Idiom in Bangalore to understand how this design consultancy had managed to successfully launch 80 companies over a period of just 6 years. From September to December 2012 I spent time with the Idiom team and engaging first-hand in their ‘mind to market process’, and observed many factors that I believe have contributed to their success. The following two mindsets were those I most admired, and believe contributed the most to Idiom’s practices:
A thing I’ve avoided doing during my trip through India is taking the stereotypical pictures of cows, children and people on the streets – mostly because I feel these types of image portray India as needing help, but I know they can help themselves. Don’t get me wrong, they make great photos – but in my view once you get used to the noise and the chaos of India you can learn a lot from the people and their traditions. Some of these thoughts that I had are echoed in this post ‘we don’t need no othering: some thoughts on lena duham and racism’ by blogger A Curious Fancy.
With so much sensory input and noise and so much chaos in India, you can only follow your intuition. Indian people have an attuned sense of intuition, which I have come to admire a lot. With such a large population they have learned to find quiet and turn off from being part of the crowd – which is something that we all need to learn, to switch off now and then in order to see the world around us more clearly.
Design Exchange: An open conversation on bring design the core of business with Google, Peppermint Hotels, Adobe, SAP and Honeywell
My last Idiom engagement involved hosting and facilitating an evening event that we called ‘Design Exchange’, held on December 14th 2012. The intent was to have a reflective space for open dialogue with large corporates on the use of design in organizations.
I asked individuals from the executive, management and design teams of Adobe, Honeywell, Peppermint Hotels, Google and SAP to talk for five minutes on the questions below:
1. If design were an animal in your organization, what would it be?
2. If you were to name 3 search words about design organisations, what would they be and why?
3. Where would you like to develop design capabilities in your organization?
While I was India, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the National Institute of Design (NID) (http://www.nid.edu) and WE School – Welingkar A Business school (http://www.welingkar.org). These visits provided me with some key insights into design education past and present, as well as its potential future directions.
NID’s R & D Campus in Bangalore Visits
Design and Uncertainty
Design is all about exploring the unknown, and testing projects out until they fit the context and market. Design and uncertainty come hand in hand – but could it be that starting from a point of certainty, and then demystifying the process of how design capabilities are developed, is a way of bringing design into the core of a company’s approach to innovation within their projects?
My experience of running a creative workshop with a large IT company in India led me to this reflection on how design can be brought into a business with a strong engineering and IT focus. I needed to get a group of 50 people to share their feelings about bringing design into the core of their design products and services. This was a big task!
So far on my International Design Walkabout I’ve not managed to get to any of the Service Design or Global Sustainability Jam events. I have missed events in Amsterdam, Brazil and Newcastle – but I finally managed to join a jam event while I was in Bangalore. It was the Global Sustainability Jam hosted by Thoughworks Bangalore by Rohit Bansal and Manish Pillewar, and an organizers Madhulikha Umapathy, Sushant Chavan, Pooja Dave all of which were people who are passionate about sustainability, and were running their Sustainability Jam event to be involved in a wider purpose.
This is what the Global Sustainability Jam is about:
“One weekend in November, creative, passionate people will meet, form teams & get to work in an energetic, global, face-to-face event. They’ll have fun creating brand-new real-world designs, projects and initiatives which might make a difference.”
While I was in India, I was involved in lots of different projects and activities: like branding a new shoe line for the modern Indian woman, and running workshops with large corporate companies – which gave me a greater understanding of the role design plays in India’s innovation processes. I also found lots of opportunities to further develop and deliver my Design Doctor service.
During my first weeks in India I got to know my Brazilian housemates Anna and Paola, my new roommate Garima from Mumbai, Maddalen from Spain who where all part of the DREAM:IN team, and Nidhi from Idiom – really well. Together we started to plan trips to explore more of India together, the first one being to Mysore for the Dasara festival, a picture of the international crew is below.
First though I wanted to do some exploring on my own, as I learned in Brazil that this really helps me to understand the local culture (see the post called ‘Exploring your Inner Chicken‘). So I decided to take a 3 day trip to Pondicherry, which was previously the French area of India, where French is still spoken to day with French food – Yum Yum!
I know Idiom was going to be amazing, please view the last post if you want to know more about why India and Idiom!. I must admit I was quite scared of coming to Bangalore in India, as I was really unsure what to expect. But I knew that when I arrived I would be greeted by a warm face as I would be living in the DREAM:IN guest house with Paula and Anna, both from Brazil, Paula from Curitiba and Anna was from Belo Horizonte, Brazil where I had just been working!! I think I am really starting to believe in serendipity. We had talked about doing traveling around India; it was going to be fab to have them as my travel mates.
Sure enough, when I arrived, I was greeted by Paola and she made me feel very welcome. On the first morning of waking up, I was picked up and went to the Idiom office. I knew that India had traffic problems but I was not expecting the trip that I had by car on the way to the office – it was as if we were in a rally race! (see video above), but one thing Brazil had taught me was to slow down and take things as they come, as a plan never goes to plan.
From the start of thinking about the International Design Walkabout I’d had India in mind and close to the top of my list. It had been put in my mind a long time before the idea of the Walkabout itself, as an Indian friend now living in Mumbai had made some comments after my trip to Seoul in Korea. I had mentioned to her that I had seen many copies of designer shops and brands when I was in Seoul: for example I had seen The Body Shop on one side of a road, and The Face Shop directly on the other side of the street (see images below). I thought, from my Western viewpoint, that it was just copying. But my Indian friend said ‘No darling they are only making things cheaper’. I could see from this point onwards, that my Indian friend had a different viewpoint that changed the way you saw the world – a mindset I very much came to admire and wish to be immersed in.