Letter from Kumar Vyas

We have an inspiring letter from Prof. Kumar Vyas about Vision First. Thank you, Kumar. It keeps us going.

(Full write-ups on the SIR MISHA BLACK MEDAL awarded recently to Prof. Kumar Vyas are here and here.)

Dear Rashmi

I am sorry for the delay in replying . I am not one of those who can put his thoughts straight away on the keypad.  Many thanks for your mail.

As  indicated in my earlier mail, I  feel extremely happy for the Vision First initiative and for the hard work put in by the Core Group.

I feel -and I am sure the Core Group members know and have already planned for it- that the real work would begin with the co-creation workshops/roundtables planned at various design schools and involving all possible stake holders.

From my own past experience I would say that such deliberations are not likely to remain focused on one single area or agenda. It is likely to -and it should-  progress in several parallel streams of thoughts.

As luck would have it, one of the things that happened to me soon after I began at the NID in 1962, was my induction to a small group of persons who eventually were to pave the way for the first ever school of design in the country. The group  monitored by Gautam Sarabhai, met fairly regularly. It was in the course of these long protracted deliberations that  the Institute’s value system and education philosophy emerged.

It was relatively a small group consisting of an industrialist who was also a design philosopher and practical dreamer (Gautam), a hard headed go-getter with a sharp eye for details (Gira, his sister), an engineer, sculptor and self-made expert on library resources (James Prestini, professor of industrial design on sabbatical leave from the Berkeley University) and two freshly inducted designers (Dasharath Patel and Kumar Vyas) who were green horns but soon learnt the ropes.

But there were also crucial inputs from the visitors who were invited to participate and advise on specific issues. These included Dr Vikram Sarabhai, Dr Kamala Chaudhari and Prof Ravi Mathai of IIM-A, Kamalini Sarabhai, Director, B M institute. And of course, Premjibhai, chief craftsman of Calico Mills workshops and innovative solver of tough problems of structural detailing, both in wood and metal.

The issues addressed at these sessions eventually turned into the ‘building blocks’ of NID’s eduactional ethos and learning methods. They are all familiar to you. Total denial of rote-learning; discovering theory only through practice (Learning to know, learning to do); a system of continuous feedback and qualitative evaluation replacing formal exams, marks and grades; collective peer reviews instead of ‘ranking’; learner/faculty partnership replacing the good old ‘respectful’ distance between teacher and taught; ‘seed farm’ concept to maitain healthy learner/faculty ratio; thoroughly train own faculty before commencing regular educational programmes and so on.

To quote an example of deliberations on one subject ‘organically’ shifting to another. Acceptance of on-going professional projects and batch production runs in workshops as ‘tools’ for eduaction naturally led to the types of craftspersons and small entrepreneurs available locally on the one hand, and on the other, the need to configure and interrelate studio, classroom and workshop/lab spaces to acheive functional proximity. Such lateral shifts in the collective thinking of the group will -and should- happen when working on the Vision.

You may certainly share my views with others.

Many warm regards,

Kumar

Dear Rashmi

I am sorry for the delay in replying . I am not one of those who can put his thoughts straight away  on the keypad.  Many thanks for your mail.

As  indicated in my earlier mail, I  feel extremely happy for the Vision First initiative and for the hard work put in by the Core Group.

I feel -and I am sure the Core Group members know and have already planned for it- that the real work would begin with the co-creation workshops/roundtables planned at various design schools and involving all possible stake holders.

From my own past experience I would say that such deliberations are not likely to remain focused on one single area or agenda. It is likely to -and it should-  progress in several parallel streams of thoughts.

As luck would have it, one of the things that happened to me soon after I began at the NID in 1962, was my induction to a small group of persons who eventually were to pave the way for the first ever school of design in the country. The group  monitored by Gautam Sarabhai, met fairly regularly. It was in the course of these long protracted deliberations that  the Institute’s value system and education philosophy emerged.

It was relatively a small group consisting of an industrialist who was also a design philosopher and practical dreamer (Gautam), a hard headed go-getter with a sharp eye for details (Gira, his sister), an engineer, sculptor and self-made expert on library resources (James Prestini, professor of industrial design on sabbatical leave from the Berkeley University) and two freshly inducted designers (Dasharath Patel and Kumar Vyas) who were green horns but soon learnt the ropes.

But there were also crucial inputs from the visitors who were invited to participate and advise on specific issues. These included Dr Vikram Sarabhai, Dr Kamala Chaudhari and Prof Ravi Mathai of IIM-A, Kamalini Sarabhai, Director, B M institute. And of course, Premjibhai, chief craftsman of Calico Mills workshops and innovative solver of tough problems of structural detailing, both in wood and metal.

The issues addressed at these sessions eventually turned into the ‘building blocks’ of NID’s eduactional ethos and learning methods. They are all familiar to you. Total denial of rote-learning; discovering theory only through practice (Learning to know, learning to do); a system of continuous feedback and qualitative evaluation replacing formal exams, marks and grades; collective peer reviews instead of ‘ranking’; learner/faculty partnership replacing the good old ‘respectful’ distance between teacher and taught; ‘seed farm’ concept to maitain healthy learner/faculty ratio; thoroughly train own faculty before commencing regular educational programmes and so on.
To quote an example of deliberations on one subject ‘organically’ shifting to another. Acceptance of on-going professional projects and batch production runs in workshops as ‘tools’ for eduaction naturally led to the types of craftspersons and small entrepreneurs available locally on the one hand, and on the other, the need to configure and interrelate studio, classroom and workshop/lab spaces to acheive functional proximity. Such lateral shifts in the collective thinking of the group will -and should- happen when working on the Vision.
You may certainly share my views with others.
Many warm regards,

Kumar

Dear Rashmi

I am sorry for the delay in replying . I am not one of those who can put his thoughts straight away  on the keypad.  Many thanks for your mail.

As  indicated in my earlier mail, I  feel extremely happy for the Vision First initiative and for the hard work put in by the Core Group.

I feel -and I am sure the Core Group members know and have already planned for it- that the real work would begin with the co-creation workshops/roundtables planned at various design schools and involving all possible stake holders.

From my own past experience I would say that such deliberations are not likely to remain focused on one single area or agenda. It is likely to -and it should-  progress in several parallel streams of thoughts.

As luck would have it, one of the things that happened to me soon after I began at the NID in 1962, was my induction to a small group of persons who eventually were to pave the way for the first ever school of design in the country. The group  monitored by Gautam Sarabhai, met fairly regularly. It was in the course of these long protracted deliberations that  the Institute’s value system and education philosophy emerged.

It was relatively a small group consisting of an industrialist who was also a design philosopher and practical dreamer (Gautam), a hard headed go-getter with a sharp eye for details (Gira, his sister), an engineer, sculptor and self-made expert on library resources (James Prestini, professor of industrial design on sabbatical leave from the Berkeley University) and two freshly inducted designers (Dasharath Patel and Kumar Vyas) who were green horns but soon learnt the ropes.

But there were also crucial inputs from the visitors who were invited to participate and advise on specific issues. These included Dr Vikram Sarabhai, Dr Kamala Chaudhari and Prof Ravi Mathai of IIM-A, Kamalini Sarabhai, Director, B M institute. And of course, Premjibhai, chief craftsman of Calico Mills workshops and innovative solver of tough problems of structural detailing, both in wood and metal.

The issues addressed at these sessions eventually turned into the ‘building blocks’ of NID’s eduactional ethos and learning methods. They are all familiar to you. Total denial of rote-learning; discovering theory only through practice (Learning to know, learning to do); a system of continuous feedback and qualitative evaluation replacing formal exams, marks and grades; collective peer reviews instead of ‘ranking’; learner/faculty partnership replacing the good old ‘respectful’ distance between teacher and taught; ‘seed farm’ concept to maintain healthy learner/faculty ratio; thoroughly train own faculty before commencing regular educational programmes and so on.
To quote an example of deliberations on one subject ‘organically’ shifting to another. Acceptance of on-going professional projects and batch production runs in workshops as ‘tools’ for eduaction naturally led to the types of craftspersons and small entrepreneurs available locally on the one hand, and on the other, the need to configure and interrelate studio, classroom and workshop/lab spaces to acheive functional proximity. Such lateral shifts in the collective thinking of the group will -and should- happen when working on the Vision.
You may certainly share my views with others.
Many warm regards,

Kumar

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About korjan

Partner, Studio Korjan & Independent Design Educator. Believes that complex problems could have design solutions.

2 comments

  1. Bala

    This is inspiring and timely. This needs to be shown to the DIPP and Mr Pitroda if need be. We could request Kumar to be a co-signatory to the letter as well.

    A Balasubramaniam

  2. arvind

    It’s time for a new and home-grown “India Report”, folks.
    Arvind Lodaya

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