Indian students design sustainable solutions

“I believe that design must be an agent of change in the world. Through thoughtful, people-centered design, I hope to create products, services and experiences that leave their mark on people’s minds and improve their lives.”
Shruti Ramiah

Three Indian students have come up with smart interaction design projects, which illustrate how design can contribute in changing our mindset in respect to the global challenges. These students demonstrate that sustainable solutions reflecting awareness of climate impact and social responsibility can be fun and intelligent.

 Made from Scratch

The project ‘Made from Scratch’ is a food experiment that gets people tasting, thinking and talking about the way they buy, cook and eat. Most of us are aware of the growing concerns about food practices and their impact on the planet and people. Many experts have shared their insights and asked us to make changes such as eating less meat, buying local, or giving up fast food. These informative, educational approaches appeal to us as rational human beings, to make the right choices. But decisions aren’t always rational, especially when it comes to food, which is so personal and emotional. When most vegetarians are asked why they gave up meat, they don’t answer “to reduce my carbon footprint.” They usually say “because it just felt right.”

Shruti Ramiah is a graduate in Communication Design from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore. She has come up with this simple experiment triggers complex conversations:

You invite four friends for a home-cooked meal where each person cooks one course of the meal. There is just one rule – all the food must be cooked from scratch. That means no spice mixes, stock cubes or ready-to-cook food. By cooking and eating the meal, you inadvertently engage in sustainable actions such as buying fresh, local or seasonal produce and avoiding highly processed foods. The initiated dialogue will hopefully lead to a re-evaluation of your relationship with food.

The ‘Made from Scratch’ website provides information on hosting a dinner and provides space to share your experiences with other people. User research revealed that there is no lack of information on sustainable food. ‘Made from Scratch’ is built on the belief that people’s behavior can be influenced by experiences that challenge their established patterns. It doesn’t aim to instruct people about what they should or shouldn’t do. Instead it aims to stimulate them to question and investigate sustainability and food.

Read more about Made from Scratch

 Living Images

Another design project, ‘Living Images’, made by Harikrishnan Gopalakrishnan, tries to speculate on the notion of an ageing photograph. What if machines could understand the same way a person understands photographs? Can it then serve an “unconventional” way of seeing photos? The result of the project is an exploration into the aesthetics, behaviors, interaction, scenarios and a working prototype; based on the ideas developed during the social photography project (Industry project with Intel) while working with Wan-Ting Liao.

After graduating in Civil Engineering, Harikrishnan Gopalakrishnan did his post graduation in Industrial Design at IIT Delhi. He is very interested in the notion of “strategic design” — not just for big businesses, but also as a practice where multiple disciplines and perspectives are combined to establish a long term, sustainable vision towards the future. He believes these thoughts will gain prevalence as the world concentrates on more frugal, renewable and sustainable alternatives for even the most trivial of everyday scenarios.

Read more about Living Images

 The Symbiants

Harsha Vardhan Ramesh Babu has a background in Industrial Design, with a Master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. His goal as a designer is to seek beauty both in form and function, and to continually explore new avenues of thought, which would have a positive impact on humanity. The project ‘The Symbiants’ explores symbiotic relationships between objects, people and the environments they live in.

The T1, T2 and the T3 are 3 species of symbiotic fish feeding robots, who are in a mutualistic relationship with their muse (the fish) and the human being (the caregiver) they live with. They are techno-social organisms with personas that exist both in the physical and digital worlds. In the physical they have behavior to evoke responses, such as movement, vibrations etc. In the digital they occupy personas in social media platforms through which they talk to their owners/caregiver. These personas had a language which could range from simple interjections (ooh, ash, uh-uh etc) to more evolved responses through poetry (it could channel William Blake to speak back to you) for example , which is based on its caregiver’s interests. What keeps them alive and gives them purpose is the movement of the fish, with which they play probabilistic games. They also require attention and care from their human owners (through messages written to it’s digital persona) without which they programmatically die, which ultimately means they stop feeding the fish.

In the course of his exploration he has developed a keen interest in learning about the confluence of Design – Technology – Experience, and the influence it can have in creating holistic products and services for the future.

Read more about The Symbiants

Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design
These three final projects were a part of the Interaction Design Programme at Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The aim of the Interaction Design Programme is for students, faculty and staff to work together in a multicultural, multidisciplinary studio environment to co-create a new kind of education that is relevant for academia and industry.

Students from all around the world have been chosen to participate in a full-time, experimental version of a future Masters course in interaction design. A diverse selection of visiting faculty exposes students to a range of expertise on a fully immersive curriculum.

The School and Research Lab at CIID provide a platform for intensive training, an interface to academia and the creation of new knowledge. The Consultancy works independently and allows development of pragmatic, real-world ideas and works on business focused cases for industry.

CIID aspires to be a hub blending design and technology. Design is a major innovation driver towards a knowledge-based economy, and new research models that interface with both academia and industry are required to reflect this.

CIID itself is a joint venture between Simona Maschi, who is Italian, and Vinay Venkatraman, who is Indian. It is seen fondly by the Danish Design community as a fine example of how foreigners are coming to Denmark and working to address global challenges through design and innovation.

More information about CIID



List of Indian students at CIID

Current: 2012
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