Creative Industries Update: India
The recently opened Dutch Design Workspace in Mumbai aims to bring Dutch and Indian design professionals in contact with each other. During the Creative Industries Update at Pakhuis de Zwijger, participants discussed what they had encountered so far in this booming new economy.
The evening talks were preceded by a day of workshops which gave participants an insight into networking and business in India.
During the evening programme, various creatives from architectural firms to product designers and even a chocolate philanthropist discussed cases referring to their experiences with Indian business and the Dutch Design Workspace.
Designer Tjeerd Veenhoven has been working on his Palm Leather for some two years now and was the first tenant of the Dutch Design Workspace (DDW) in Mumbai.
“In addition to an actual workspace, and meeting areas, the DDW offers business packages to help kickstart your business in India,” says workspace Director Anuradha Gupta. “We can provide you with local contacts, accompany you to meetings and help interpret what is being said.”
Veenhoven is now in the production phase of his Palm Leather in which he is making flip flops for the hotel industry. “Palm Leather is extremely cheap and it’s completely biodegradable. Those hotel flip flops only last a few days, then they’re chucked away. It’s ideal to make them out of this natural material.”
But he is currently also looking towards the consumer market: “The real problem I found in India is getting the production process right. The products are there, they just need to be made efficiently.” The designer looks to create useful products from his Palm Leather for the poorer Indian community, these flip flops would be a great start.
Armand Paardekooper Overman of fUSE is also giving back to the local Indian community, this time in the form of a Biodiversity Training Institute in Sikkim, a town at the foot of the Himalayas. Together with Architecture Brio, fUSE has designed a building which uses naturally sources stone, is eco-friendly but above all, makes the most of its natural habitat. Thanks to its location in a humid part of India, the outside walls of the building will be completely covered in plants, and the design will offer views of the surrounding mountains.
“India is so big you kind of feel like a kid in a sweet shop at first,” says Paardekooper Overman. “When we were given the commission the idea was to use all of the available land, a typically Indian thing to do. Instead we designed a plan for an institute which is very compact, leaving as much of the natural surroundings untouched as possible.”
Motion graphics company Addikt’s Barry Schwarz has quite a bit of experience doing business in India and shared with the audience some of his ‘unsuccessful’ projects. He explained three of the pitfalls which can be found when dealing Indian companies: “First there is always a higher boss hidden away somewhere who can drop your ideas. This happened during a project for the Cricket World Cup where we had designer a new digitalized style which was at the last minute replaced by a Bollywood actor – typically used for promotion.”
He went on to tell how in India your project may not be finalized up to your standards, yet still may be used or how thanks to the ‘yes’ culture you may sometimes be working on a project you were never supposed to. “Thankfully there have also been many successful ventures in India, and hopefully many more to come.”
The lectures made clear that Dutch design in all its many forms can benefit from doing business in the booming market that is India. And India itself can profit greatly from the knowledge and creativity offered by Dutch creatives.
DDW is supported by Dutch DFA, Premsela, Nai, BNO, BNA, BNI, MODINT and funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation.
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