Winter 2007

Megacity snapshots

Sarah Temple
Essay / Indian Design 1 [EXTRACT]

India’s boom economy is shaking up the local communication industry like there’s no tomorrow

Subject: Essay/Indian Design 1
Many people have flooded into Mumbai over the centuries: Hindu fishermen, Muslim kings, the Portuguese, the British, the Parsis, the Punjabis… And now the world’s design and advertising community are turning up in droves, to investigate, to network, to attend design events and to set up business.

In the first nine months of 2007 alone, there were three major design conferences in India. First was ‘Design Local’ organised by Icograda in February, featuring Mervyn Kurlansky, April Greiman and Lella Vignelli. In March, John Thackera hosted the latest Doors of Perception event in Delhi, entitled ‘Juice: Food, Fuel, Meaning’, bringing together innovators, entrepreneurs, educators and designers from around the world to discuss design sustainability and alternative futures. Most recently, in September, there was ‘Kyoorius Designyatra’ in Goa, where an array of international designers, including Neville Brody (whose company, Research Studios, is opening a Mumbai office next year), Kyle Cooper and Stefan Sagmeister regaled an audience of 1600 young designers with tales of Western design practice and clients.

It is no coincidence that India has become the venue for such events: something extraordinary is happening. And it is something more than last year’s nine per cent national economic growth. The world is fascinated to see a nation progressing so fast, a country said to be ‘leap-frogging’ mistakes made by the West, a nation of a billion people who have everything to play for.

Natural-born innovators?
There is no doubt that this frenzy is centred in Mumbai, a megacity of nineteen million people, and the biggest, richest, fastest city in India. Founded as a trading station in the late sixteenth century, it moved up a gear when the Suez Canal opened (in 1869) and Mumbai became the true Gateway to India. You only have to sit in a rooftop bar on Marine Drive at sunset to see the feverish trading taking place. Down on the streets too, the native Maharashtrians are sensing in the air the new possibilities for their city and nation. The slums are beginning to be cleared, new flyovers and bridges are being erected, the business people of the world are filling their taxis and rickshaws. [...]

First published in Eye no. 66 vol. 17 2007

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.


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