Dr Ilkka Hämäläinen visits CKS

In Conversation with Dr. Hamalainen

CKS hosted Dr Ilkka Hämäläinen, Chairman of the Board at Oppo (Optimizing Potential, Finland) at the Chaia Innovation Campus on 16th March. Dr. Hämäläinen heads Oppo, which is dedicated to creating systemic change through integration of business, academia and the internal dynamic of societies and by promoting ‘doing good by doing business’ in BOP markets. Most recently, he has collaborated with IIT Kharagpur to take a first of its kind course on innovation management with an approach rooted in principles of , which would therefore be more widely applicable as opposed to more context-specific approaches.

Dr. Hämäläinen brought a fresh and interesting perspective on innovation and how it should be fostered by creating an enabling ecosystem. Interestingly, in his view, an effort that has not yet positively impacted the context is called a ‘hypothetical innovation’; it is only once the effort has achieved its objective that it can be called an ‘innovation’.

It has been suggested by social scientists that the role of governments in making social change will decrease, and markets will be in charge through entrepreneurship of empowered citizens driving social changes to improve their own living conditions, or happiness, if you like. – OPPO.fi

At CKS we look forward to explore potential areas of collaboration with Dr Hämäläinen on innovation opportunities in BOP markets as well as new innovation approaches and training methods.

Does Innovation amount to Impatient Optimism?

The Gates Foundation is slowly growing into a powerful global force driving innovation around the world. Its health and developmental agendas have gradually be revised and realigned into a framework that increasingly blends improving the world with doing new things in order to be able to improve the world. Their motto, impatient optimism, seems to capture that sense of purpose and vision rather well.

Here at CKS we’ve been working closely with the Gates Foundation since 2009, when we began ethnographic research and design activities in Bihar around vaccine delivery services. The Foundation is a sponsor of our upcoming Design Public Conclave and we’ll have several of their key personnel at the event as well.

I sat down yesterday to talk with Ashok Alexander, the Country Head of the Gates Foundation in India. He talked to me about the need for immersive engagement, intimacy, understanding, between those who are trying to do good and those one is trying to help. In the case of Avahan, for instance, the Gates-supported HIV-AIDS program, Ashok said that learning about sex-workers and their lives, livelihoods, challenges and threats was all critical for designing the intervention. That kind of approach, and the learnings that came from understanding how to prevent violence against women in urban environments, turned out to have surprising impacts on how the Foundation was able to think about maternal and child health in rural areas, including in the state of Bihar.

Ashok Alexander will be speaking at the Design Public Conclave on how to better imagine India as an innovation society. He’s got the kind of engaged, critical and visionary perspective that we need to institutionalize in new ways to actually transform ourselves into an innovation society.

ColourNext Dialogues in New Delhi: An Overview

The second edition of ColourNext Dialogues, a discussion on the trends identified in Asian Paint’s ColourNext project for 2012, was held in Delhi on February 28th. Fashion designers, artists, architects, interior designers, and students met for an evening to interact with the ideas, give their critiques, and discuss the social trends behind the colour palettes.

To open the event, Anand Vijayan of CKS, spoke about the inspiration for ColourNext Dialogues, and the opportunity to look deeper into the colour trends for real meaning. Ekta Ohri, head of projects at CKS, invited participants to talk about their own relationship with colour. Some professionals spoke about their use of colour in design and art, and observed a growing trend to more neutral, blank colours. Several participants spoke about colour as the first and primary means of communication with the world, making colour the defining aspect in an object’s identity. Whether professionals, students, or neither, all the participants enjoyed colour as more than a visual experience. They spoke about how colour as an expression reflects mood, emotion, and even personal identity.
[Read more…]

ColourNext Dialogues Delhi: Headrush

Headrush, the second theme of the day at ColourNext Dialogues in Delhi, incited some interesting reflections amongst the participants. Speakers Shristi Bajaj, founder and designer at Designbait and Pushkar Thakur, founder and creative director at Grafiosi Design studios, began by talking about the energy and dynamism of the installation. To Pushkar, it signified not only only energy and immediacy, but also drama and even danger. To him, Headrush is about discarding inhibitions and facing the unknown and the thrilling. [Read more…]

ColourNext Dialogues Delhi: Small Joys

At ColourNext Dialogues in Delhi, Small Joys was the first installation with which the participants interacted. The speakers, fashion designer Nida Mahmood and gallery owner Nidhi Jyoti Jain, were initially struck by the idea of memory and nostalgia. The installation evoked a sense of looking back at one’s life, in the yellowing books and clumps of askew postcards hanging on the walls. Nida also brought up the idea of finding refuge away from the chaos of a hectic urban life, and a nostalgic yearning for innocence. In this chaotic life, she said, we can’t imagine being able to wake up without worry. Small Joys realizes the need for a little fun, a little happiness, and a little freedom that we all crave. [Read more…]

Gates Foundation an Official Partner of Design Public

We are extremely pleased to announce that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has officially confirmed their partnership and support for the Design Public Conclave, to be held on the 20th of April this year.

The Gates Foundation has worked with CKS on several different initiatives over the past few years, including the Vaccine Delivery Innovation Initiative, 34 Ways to Save Lives in Rural India, and most recently, Redesigning the Vaccine Delivery Kit used by frontline health workers in rural Bihar. This association has yielded not only a mutual respect for methodologies and approaches to work, that of innovation and design, but has also given forth several innovative ideas for future collaborations. [Read more…]

ColourNext Dialogues 2012 in New Delhi

The Center for Knowledge Societies, in collaboration with Asian Paints is organizing ColourNext Dialogues 2012, a a first of its kind conclave on colour trends, forecasting and visual directions in Indian society. The conclave, to be held at the NCIS Exhibition Grounds in New Delhi on February 28th, 2012, will be an intensive half-day discussion on the visual significance of observed social trends.

These trends have been derived from the ColourNext 2012 project conducted by Asian Paints and CKS, a year-long trend forecasting initiative. The four themes identified are: Headrush, Small Joys, Awakening and Crystal.

Speakers at the conclave will include
[Read more…]

Bringing the Inside Out – Rethinking Spatial Design

While user-centered design is the new buzzword in the design community, architects are way behind the curve. For a long while, architects across the world have been focusing their designs on user requirements, but have not been thinking deeply about the relationship between the space and the user who inhabits the space. Unlike product, system, and service design where user-centered design is about making users’ lives easier by addressing their needs and challenges, user comfort may take on different meanings in the context of spatial design. Spatial comfort may not be only about meeting the functional needs of users, but also about creating an environment that allows the users to feel “one” with the space.

In one of the research studies conducted by CKS in 2010 to understand how Indian consumers perceive luxury, it was revealed that they define luxury as consumption of products and spaces, which are in-sync with their inner philosophies or personalities. Owing to the extremely busy, fast-paced lives of today, individuals are looking to create these “inner spaces” within the comforts of their homes to allow more frequent access as opposed to waiting for a vacation. [Read more…]

IBM Officially On Board as Sponsor for Design Public

We’re elated to report that yesterday, IBM officially confirmed their sponsorship of the third edition of the Design Public Conclave. Our CEO, Dr. Aditya Dev Sood, has been in conversation with the folks at IBM for the past month or so now, discussing areas of mutual interest and opportunities for collaboration. The focus of the conclave is on how governments as well as private corporations can increase trust in the public sphere, and in doing so help build a culture of innovation in India. IBM has been at the helm of innovation in several different arenas, and most recently have been focused on urban infrastructure and smart cities, highly relevant themes in the context of building more trust and participation through better design and innovation.

Smart Cities are cities that know how to “leverage information, anticipate problems and coordinate resources.” The smartest cities integrate and coordinate between all key functions and infrastructures. [Read more…]

Should Indian Design Go Dutch?

Last week in Mumbai, the Embassy of the Netherlands, along with an array of Dutch design institutions and practitioners, had a proposition for India: Dutch design has learned something critical and new, they argued, about respecting end-users and designing for context. It embodies principles of economy and even parsimony. It has a flat, inclusive vision of society, and is well oriented to work for India’s lower income and marginal communities. It is systematic in its approach, it blends the practical with the aesthetic with the whimsical. To address the large challenges in our society, we should give it a try.

It’s a hard truth to face, but maybe not all cultures of design from all parts of the world are equal. [Read more…]