Festivals are also a sign of development: Suprita Moorthy

by Team ACF
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“The essence of design lies in the process of discovering a problem shared by many people and trying to solve it,” believes founder of Bengaluru ByDesign Suprita Moorthy. She has conceived the idea of the annual festival, which is in its second year, with the aim to engage, educate and introduce viewers to the fascinating world of design aesthetics. Spread across 10 venues, the thrust is not only to exhibit site-specific installations of Indian and international designers, but use engaging workshops as a potent tool to spread awareness about this industry, which until a few years ago remained in the shadows of fashion and other art forms.

The festival kicked off on November 15 and would conclude on November 29, 2019.

Excerpts:

There is a very thin line defining the aesthetics of art and design. How would you describe the word ‘design’ for the common man? And what components does the design bring within its ambit?

Art is an expression of an individual’s will to society at large, one whose origin is very much of a personal nature. Design, on the other hand, originates in society. The essence of design lies in the process of discovering a problem shared by many people and trying to solve it. Design influences what we think, the way we feel and the decisions we make. Good design is so much more than creating a good-looking product. It is about creating a positive experience for users at every touch point and with every interaction. In this fast-changing world Design is the only promise of stability that can help us navigate making it the most important aspect of our lives.

What kind of response did the festival receive in its inaugural edition? What were the lessons learnt? 

The first edition received an overwhelming response with over 200,000 visitors. The concepts showcased were welcomed by the public at large and made them a question at the same time engage with every showcase. This was the curiosity we had hoped to evoke. We seem to be learning lessons each day even after the first edition. Tackling governance was one of our key challenges and we seem to have had a better understanding after the first edition.

In recent years, the country has witnessed a change in perception towards designing, wherein efforts are being made to educate people on design aesthetics. What has been your core aim while conceptualising the event? Was there any lacuna that you wanted to fill?
The festival was built on three vital pillars – Experience, Explore & Engage. Engage – Design & Education was one of the primary aspects of building this festival. Today a Design education empowers students to reach their full potential in creativity, self-efficacy, and collaboration.

There are only 7000+ designers who graduate from design schools or courses in India. If design were to solve problems for a better future, we need more designers, we need more institutions and most importantly we need more students or individuals who aspire to use design as a tool for change. Due to the lack of awareness of the possibilities a design career can bring, design education remains focused on a smaller percentage of society.

With the help of this festival, we aspire to influence a larger section of society on the potential of design and the career opportunities it can provide. The festival also ensures that the designers who engage with the festival conduct workshops, debates and learning opportunities to existing design schools during the ten-day period. This year the project Taburete Tower is one project that focuses on the simple ideology – DESIGN IS FOR EVERYBODY.

Through the workshops an attempt is being made to highlight the fluidity of design and how ancillary fields like fashion are also pivotal to its aesthetics. Can you elaborate on the curatorial vision?

Our workshops are curated with the aim to bring people back to the basics of making. To understand material, form and integrating it to a contemporary aesthetic.  In today’s fast-paced world I feel the importance to learn processes are diminishing leading to a large vacuum. Through our workshops, we hope to engage people to understand techniques and their relevance in today’s society and how they tackle today’s aesthetics.

Fashion is an important aspect of design. Today consumption patterns have changed and designers and brands need to cater to the requirements keeping the balance between aesthetics, business and sustainability. The workshops on fashion during the festival take a conscious look at how these aspects are addressed. We have a Swiss Designer – Mariel Manuel working with design students of JD Institute where both Mariel and the students will work together in designing and creating an installation of sustainability and fashion. During this creation, students get to learn new processes from a practising designer making their education more current in the context of today’s times.

What are the challenges of hosting an event of large scale in a city grappling with infrastructural issues like congestion due to traffic? 

I think infrastructural issues are inevitable with any developing city. Creating festivals for impact is also a sign of development. At BBD, we try to take design to people, being aware that getting them to travel to design might be a challenge. We also are aware that despite these issues of traffic and infrastructure problems we face there is an appetite in the city and people are open to overcoming these issues to engage. The challenge here is more the mindset and get people to widen their perspectives, build curiosity, engage with the festival and exchange viewpoints.

Do you plan to take the event to other cities? Perhaps, in the form of a pop-up event?

Bengaluru ByDesign is a festival for the country originating in Bengaluru. We aspire for it to become a destination for people. We will be doing a lot of activities in different cities. Many of our programmes travel to other cities post the festival. This year Liz West and Amanda Parer will showcase her work in Delhi & Mumbai after BBD.

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