Kyoorius Designyatra 2012 | The perception of the Designer has been challenged

Designyatra 2012 organized a side event on design writing. As someone who’s always written, but been a little hesitant to share my work with anyone, I jumped at the opportunity. I put together a little work and applied. It was a shot in the dark, but I’m so glad I did it.

Organized by the British Council, India, over three days, the workshop was a fabulous platform to talk about design. And then write about it. Patrick Burgoyne of Creative Review spoke about how to go about writing- identifying an audience, exploring a theme and the importance of opinion versus factual reporting. As part of the workshop, we were asked to hand in a piece on the event. I chose not to cover the event in terms of the line up of speakers etc, but rather, to write about the feeling the conference left me with.

Kyoorius Designyatra 2012 | The perception of the Designer has been challenged

A shiny Macbook Pro.
Impeccable language skills.
An obsession with all things beautiful.
The Designer.

Three days of inspirational stories
Presentations of extraordinary work.
An emotional rollercoaster. 
This was Designyatra 2012.

Why was I at this conference? Perhaps, like many others, I needed my faith in design restored. Perhaps I needed to feel good about design again. Perhaps I needed to be reminded that there’s more to design than the glamour of it all. That it may not be just empty talk to suggest that design can change the world. Six months out of design school and into the  real world is enough to leave a designer a little jaded. The perception the world seems to have about design today is shallow but sometimes hard to ignore. Which is what makes conferences like this one so important to be part of. Not so that the world knows design is important, but so that designers know design is important. That you don’t need fancy gadgets and an expensive education to be a designer. All you need in order to design, as Arunachalam Murugananthan, one of the most inspiring speakers at the conference told us, is a problem.

Themed The Divide, the conference addressed one of the most relevant issues in the world today. The economic divide – The colossal gap between the people who can afford to dream big and those who just can’t. Perhaps that wasn’t what the conference intended to do, but amongst talk of unity and relevance and authenticity and ownership, one humbling speech made everyone in the hall stop and think. For amongst the celebrated designers with their laptops and iPhones and successful careers, was a man with nothing but a dream and intense passion who used design to change millions of lives. 
Simple, unassuming, struggling with language, laughing at himself. The perception of the Designer has been challenged.

When seated in a hall with some of the world’s most creative minds, we’ve grown used to talks about passion. We’re used to being told that if you have an idea, you can always find ways to fund it. We’re used to listening to stories of struggle for monetary backing. It’s one thing when it’s coming from someone whose footwear could partly fund a project. It’s entirely different when it comes from someone who started with absolutely nothing. That’s when you really believe in design and the power of passion. Arunachalam Murugananthan’s story changed how we see the Designer. It reinforced the definition of the Designer as a problem solver.It’s a little frightening when people begin to believe less in what they do. As Debbie Millman, the moderator for the three day conference put it, that’s when we risk losing our souls. Which is why I think it’s imperative that students of design as well as practicing designers step away from their computer screens for a few days and get back their faith in design. We need conferences like this one to inspire us, to shake us and to make way, like Karl Heiselman said, for design to take over. 


12 thoughts on “Kyoorius Designyatra 2012 | The perception of the Designer has been challenged

  1. This is a brilliant peice of writing that has very beautifully put together what a conference like the designyatra can do a student of design. It brought back a gilmpse of the entire three day inspiring conference to my mind.

  2. anya, excellent! and congratulations!

    “you don’t need fancy gadgets and an expensive education to be a designer. All you need in order to design, as Arunachalam Murugananthan, one of the most inspiring speakers at the conference told us, is a problem”


  3. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on design. My only suggestion is that you make the assumption that the reader will know who Arunachalam Muruganantham is?

    I googled the name and the story came alive for me as a designer too, because I immediately understood what had inspired your admiration… I have added this link for your confirmation that this man and this is his innovation/transformation story?

    LAKSHMI SANDHANA’s piece on co.EXIST here:
    or for the OBSERVER here:

    I will share a link to your blog today on twitter @servicejunkie which I would hope may drive more people to read it and, in doing so, be reminded that there are still a myriad of basic human/social problems to be solved by design!

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