Enriched with culture and tradition drawn from a civilization that is more than five thousand years old, India possesses an infinite treasure of indigenous knowledge and wisdom, both of which are being constantly used and practiced in daily life. The ancient wisdom in the form of the Vedas, gave the concept of ‘Kalaa’—an all embracing word whose meaning integrates the essential concepts of design, crafts, arts, skills and techniques. It is a common matter of understanding, that wherever the English words—design, craft, art or skill are translated in any of the Indian languages, the word ‘Kalaa’ is suggested as an equivalent.

The concept of design has been integral to Indian society and culture. Collaboration, cooperation, collective working, sharing, community participation are the varied characteristics of the Indian culture and society. The modern and traditional, rich and poor, new and old—all such aspects coexist in various stratas of society in India simultaneously.

Historically, Kapila Vatsyayan opines, that in culturally cohesive societies, creativity was recognised as a quality as essential and ordinary as the act of breathing. Life was constituted through the play of five elements and perceived through five senses. Connected universe had common laws of the universe. Slow and harmonious development of culture absorbed and imbibed all evolutionary forces.

However, the last phase of human civilization has altered every aspect of our culture. Super-industrialisation, high technology, information and instant communication have created new challenges and newer cultures. We are fast approaching a state of Interdisciplinarity and Interdependency. Design with its multidimensional approach, has always, fortunately as is advocated in Indian knowledge traditions; sought to evoke the collective memories of society; informed society—in turn, was modified through feedback and critique. In this sense design as an activity has always been central to the creation of a ‘culture.’

Unlike classical tradition that attempted an all-inclusive narrative of a culture, which then manifested itself in its various artefacts—the industrial revolution and reductionist program of nineteenth and early-twentieth century sought to create islands of domain specialisations. These emerged out of exclusion and segregation; and eventually needed a base to validate their existence—which was only possible through extrapolations and misinterpretations of history, philosophy and culture. This segregation resulted into segregation of contemporary societal ideologies; and led the society towards a lack of a ‘common goal’ or ‘our common future’—alternatively, to even acknowledge the need for one.

The resolution to contemporary challenges seeks to recognise the word ‘Design’ in its fullest sense i.e. one of synthesis. It points to the need for fluid movement into and between various spatial domains and possible scalability of operations towards ‘micro’ and ‘macro’ both. The contemporary design discipline seeks to achieve a seamless horizontal and vertical mobility across hierarchies in an ever-increasing attempt to connect.

In order to connect, design must truly co-exist with our immediate environment. The discipline of design has an ability to collaborate, connect and transverse varied allied domains of the profession. It connects to our environment, society, culture and economy across times, thus, lending meaning to our human life. The relationship between the internal and the external is central to human nature and is, therefore essential to all fields of design.

As individuals, we cannot ignore design as a response to our immediate environment, which simply means that we as humans are connected to design before we are even aware of it. Thus, design touches us at multiple levels, subliminally, subconsciously and intentionally.

It is in the sense of synergy and constructive critique of ‘Design,’ its philosophy, theory, practice and future directions that a seminar has been organised by the School of Design, Auro University to celebrate the interconnectedness through a humble idea of ‘Design Connects.’


Auro University is established with the vision “to be a premier university of Integral and Transformational Learning for future leaders a center for value-based education.”