Keynote Speakers

GUI BONSIEPE studied information design at the hfg ulm and was involved in teaching and research activity at the hfg ulm until 1968. Since 1968, he has been providing design and consultancy services for multilateral and bilateral organizations for technical cooperation and in government institutions in Chile, Argentina, Brazil; specializing on design issues in peripheral countries. From 1987 to 1989 he worked as an interface designer in a software house in California. From 1993-2003 he was professor for New Media at the Köln International School of Design. Since 2003 he has been living in Argentina and Brazil.

His Publications: 1975 Teoria e pratica del disegno industriale (Italy) |1978 Diseño Industrial, tecnología y dependencia (Mexico) | 1983 A ‘Tecnologia’ da Tecnologia (Brazil) | 1996 Interface – Design neu begreifen (Germany) | 1999 Interface – An Approach to Design (Netherlands) | 2008 Historia del Diseño en América Latina y El Caribe (co-editor) (Brazil) | 2009 Entwurfskultur und Gesellschaft (Switzerland) | 2011 Design, Cultura e Sociedade(Brazil) | 2012 Design como pratica de projeto (Brazil).

The Centre/Periphery Antinomies of Design in Latin America

A short overview of the development of design history studies in Latin America is given, that in part have been undertaken by design professionals due to the general indifference of traditional historiography to deal with material and semiotic artefacts of everyday culture as results of a development process including design. These studies start from the premiss that design should not be considered in isolation but inserted in the industrial, technological and political context. The role of design as one aspect in the multifacetious process of emancipation is explained, furthermore the reasons for the different perspective of design and design practice in the Periphery compared to the Centre. The effects of opposed economic policies for the development of design in Latin America are shown by comparing the 1960ies and the neoliberal programs of the1990ies. The issue of cultural influence, cultural export, cultural imperialism, contextuality is addressed, analyzing the reasons for the opposition between design as modernizing force and the reaction to modernization by searching for roots of identity in the vernacular.



TAPATI GUHA-THAKURTA is an art-historian, Professor in History and the current Director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC). Her two main books are The Making of a New ‘Indian’ Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal (Cambridge University Press, 1992) and Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Postcolonial India (Columbia University Press, and Permanent Black, 2004). She has been involved with the building of a visual history archive at the CSSSC, and has curated two exhibitions out of this collection – Visual Worlds of Modern Bengal: An introduction to the documentation archive of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (Seagull, Kolkata, 2002); The City in the Archive: Calcutta’s Visual Histories (Calcutta: CSSSC, 2011). She is at present completing a book titled In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Calcutta.

New Dispensations of Design in a public festival: The Durga pujas of contemporary Kolkata

Over the years, Kolkata’s Durga Puja (an autumnal week-long festival celebrating the home-coming of goddess Durga) has been scaling new heights as the most spectacular event in the city’s annual calendar. In recent times, the festival has taken on a particular artistic and designer profile that is unique to the contemporary city. My lecture will be studying the anatomy of this newly configured popular art-event that has brought into the fray new categories of artists and designers and new vocabularies of public design. It uses the occasion of the festival to reflect on the new dispensations and vocations of design in an urban public setting. And it offers up the city of the festival as one of those less-explored post-colonial geographies of contemporary design histories in India – a site for thinking about today’s transmuting vernacular practices of art and craft, where the resources of traditional folk and ritual arts are brought into continuous dialogue with the needs of modern art production and mass spectatorship.

The lectures has as its focus a new wave of designer productions that came of age in Kolkata at the turn of the 21st century and took on the local nomenclature of ‘art’ or ‘theme’ Pujas. As it analyses different strands of this phenomenon, it asks – how does a design aesthetic provide a special form of branding of the contemporary festival? To what extent can it transform the ephemeral ritual icon into a ‘work of art’? How effectively can it mediate the commercial publicities and competitions that have invaded the current economy of the Pujas? What specific kinds of identities of ‘designers’ has the festival nurtured in recent years? How does the new vocation of Puja designing turn our gaze on the many less-elect forms of artistic livelihoods within and outside the city, alerting us to the ever-slipping lines of distinction between the ‘artist’ and the ‘artisan’ in such domains of work? And, what kinds of transient exhibitionary worlds unfold every year on the face of the everyday city?


Sujata Keshavan was the first Indian woman to obtain a post-graduate degree in Design. She graduated from Yale University with a Master of Fine Arts degree specializing in Graphic Design in 1987. Her undergraduate degree was from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. In 1989, Sujata founded Ray+Keshavan Design, widely regarded as India’s most influential design firm and consistently ranked by The Economic Times as India’s No 1 company in the area of Brand Design. Her company was acquired by the WPP group in 2006 and is now part of the Brand Union network. Sujata is regarded as a pioneer in developing the brand design industry in South Asia. Working across sectors from technology to telecom, healthcare to banking, infrastructure to consumer products, she has played a pivotal role, after liberalization, in enabling Indian industry to create vibrant brands that can compete in the global business environment. A strong advocate of the transformational power of design, Sujata has brought design into the boardroom by demonstrating through her practice that design can be used to tangibly alter the fortunes of businesses. In her career of 25 years, Sujata has received numerous awards, been a speaker at international design conferences, and served on the jury of design competitions around the world, including the Cannes jury in 2010. She has been named one of India’s 30 most powerful women by India Today and recognised as The Outstanding Woman Professional of the Year by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in 2007. She is ranked No. 18 on Fortune India’s list of the most powerful women in business. Sujata has served on Yale University’s Global Council on reputation and is currently on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Design and Innovation. A quarter of her work each year has been pro-bono for foundations working in the areas of education, health, art, culture and other democratic citizen’s initiatives.

Towards post post-colonialism – India’s design journey

Sujata’s talk traces the evolution of modern design in India from independence to the present. Her own role as a practitioner dovetails with roughly half this period, and her views are informed by observation and experience working in the field, rather than through academic research. She shall consider the social, political or economic contexts against which design as a profession has been evolving. She will analyse the factors that influenced our journey, from the fledgling experiments in nation building in the fifties, to the impact of economic liberalization as well as of globalization and technology in the nineties and thereafter. She shall identify those factors that are, in her view, unique to India. She will also examine the relationships between art, craft, technology and design.


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