ICoRD'13 pp 1165-1176 | Cite as

Reflecting on the Future of Design Education in 21st Century India: Towards a Paradigm Shift in Design Foundation

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Mechanical Engineering book series (LNME)


This research-in-progress is an attempt to establish the need for a paradigm shift in design education. The research also investigates aspects that need to be rooted and nurtured in the foundations of design education appropriate in the 21st century India. ‘Design Foundation’ or ‘Basic Design’, as it was referred to in early design education has come a long way since its origins at Bauhaus and its further evolution at Ulm and Basel. In the nascent period of design, which primarily involved industrial design, the work was focused on physical products including textiles and graphics. Today, however, to be relevant to contemporary society, designers need to work on complex issues that are interdisciplinary and much broader in scope. 21st century design education needs to be able to apply design and develop strategies to solve real issues and not just look at ‘good form’. There is also visible shift from client-driven projects towards a more reflective ‘issue based’ design education that strives for more socially inclusive, locally/glocally/globally relevant solutions. It is becoming very important in design education to include political, social, economic and ecological discourses in a collaborative and trans/multidisciplinary way thus enabling a conceptual understanding of issues at stake as well as ‘intangibles’ like values, social responsibilities, empathy, humility and local/global relevance. Relevant design solutions seem to have shifted from ‘Form Based’ Design to ‘Issue Based’ Design. Design today is complex and large scale, and design education needs to address major issues. Design education needs to change, yet still retain its essential character. It needs to encourage trans-disciplinary thinking in students to better understand human beings and their needs, understand the economics underpinning issues and the technological requirements of solving problems. An extensively documented case study was conducted to illustrate collaborative learning in design education for students of a Foundation Program, using urban–rural connections as an example. The study documented collaborative activities among educators, students, crafts persons, professionals business entrepreneurs and so on, in constant search for ways to improve learning, increase student involvement and maximize human interaction, establishing the rural context in design education.


Design foundation Design education Paradigm shift Issue base learning Collaborative learning Rural–Urban connect 


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Copyright information

© Springer India 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Industrial Design CentreIndian Institute of Technology BombayMumbaiIndia
  2. 2.New DelhiIndia

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