ColourNext Dialogues 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Asian Paints and CKS -Centre for Knowledge Societies recently had an unveiling of 4 decor and colour directions, through 4 installations and a colour palette corresponding to each. "ColourNext is an innovative trend forecasting initiative for Indian interiors, developed by Asian Paints and conducted in collaboration with the Center for Knowledge Societies. The ColourNext process includes gaining an understanding of emerging societal trends and changes in consumer behavior, and thereafter predicting their impact on design and décor choices."
In short they engaged with society at large and not just those who work with colour. Last year when I was contacted by the CKS team to be part of their research I didn't know I would be called for a panel discussion a few months later to debate the merits and demerits of the 10 routes they had narrowed down on. It was a new experience for me to be seated with industry experts and design academicians who had devoted entire lifetimes to their chosen fields. That was 4 months back, and so it was with curiosity and anticipation that I went last week for the ColourNext Dialogues, the unveiling and the constructive evaluation of the 4 installations and colour palettes that finally emerged.

Aditya Dev Sood, Founder and CEO, Centre for Knowledge Societies
"ColourNext Design Dialogues was an intimate gathering designers, architects, academics, sociologists, cultural critics, design students and writers, Dialogues was a fascinating half-day discussion on the four social trends identified in ColourNext 2012." Design!public
After the initial round of introductions and a brief round of discussing what colour meant to us, we moved on to the point of the afternoon which was to have a dialogue about each installation and the corresponding colour palette.
The 1st installation we saw was titled "AWAKENING" and was unanimously interpreted as having spiritual connotations. The upsweep of the white drapes, the quiet and the grace of this installation clearly gave the feeling of ascension and hope with its multi leveled and layered silhouettes of flying birds.

It was interesting to see the energy that each installation seemed to emanate which in turn infused the people around it. While 'Awakening' inspired an almost reverential silence hush, the next installation "HEADRUSH" had everyone excited to share their many interpretations of it.

Panelist Aparna Piramal Raje interprets the installation. Panelist

All the installations were designed by Trapeze, the Design Collective.

We then moved onto the opposite side of the spectrum with 'Small joys' which was a cozy homey collection of nostalgia, comfort music, old memories and an interactive drawer pileup of touchscreen paper boats which all of us had a lot of fun playing with.

Sarita Sundar of Trapeze and Nien Siao of Pearl Academy were panelists for this installation

Joshua Karthik of Asian Paints asks the participants and panelists how they would use the afternoon.

Two things came to my mind and stuck after the afternoon of healthy debate and discussion around each installation. I remembered Amartya Sen's 'The Argumentative Indian' in which he quotes from our scriptures to our political history, to reinforce the strong tradition of this country's affinity to dialogue and debate as a legitimate method to arriving at decisions. Parallel this with how CKS and Asian paints have assimilated and included many prevalent voices and then analyzed and distilled them to come up with 4 decor/colour directions that truthfully represent India's decor temperament. And what we get is the picture of how it is possible to take on the daunting task of trying to give a design voice to this country that is 28 states each speaking a different language and many timelines co-existing simultaneously.
The second thing that really spoke to me was the stance of transparency and the willingness that both CKS and Asian paints have taken to share and grow the knowledge repositories that have been painstakingly and diligently put together. To not hold on but to hold wide open so that there is a healthy give and take in an atmosphere of design and knowledge sharing. A shining example of generosity and I will say Indianness in the sad days of SOPA and PIPA.
And for all those who have managed to survive this lengthy and verbose post and are actually curious to know more, do click the CKS link to see the very many interesting projects they are involved with. And the Design!public blog to read about their design innovations and primarily the many design dialogues they initiate and sustain on a regular basis.
The ColourNext team gave each of us a kit, which comprises of a look book and a work book, but that's another post.

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