National Institute of Design

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Ray Eames (1913—1988)


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(established 1961)

The establishment of the National Institute of Design in Ahmadabad was the outcome of the Indian government and the Ford Foundation's sponsorship of a three‐month visit to India by designers Charles and Ray Eames. Their brief related to the establishment of a design training programme to support small‐scale industry and reverse a deterioration in the quality of consumer goods made in India. The Eameses decided to examine the role of Indian design from a number of perspectives including architecture, anthropology, communications, economics, history, physics, psychology, and sociology. As a result it was proposed to set up an institute of design, research, and consultancy linked to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It was recommended that the first intake of the Institute should be about twelve, with an Institute staff of about a dozen with a number of visiting Indian experts drawn from government, design practice, and other such constituencies. The significance of the Eameses' report for the foundation of NID was recognized by the institution's inauguration in 1987–8 of the ‘Charles Eames Award’.

The NID went on to play a key role in many national design initiatives, setting up a range of courses and liasing with a number of official bodies and design organizations. Early work included documentation on the crafts, a programme initiated in 1970–1 with the publication of Rural Craftsmen and their Work. This was followed by other schemes including the Rural University project, the establishment of training programmes for craftsmen, and the documentation of handloom and handicrafts in a number of key centres including Assam, Meghalaya, and Manipur. Acting also as a design consultancy NID was also frequently involved with practical design projects and external commissions including a number of corporate identity design schemes, including that for the Delhi Transport Corporation (1974–5) and the symbols for Indian Telephone Industries (1978–9), Hindustan Lever Limited (1979–80), and the Calcutta Metro (1983–4). Extending the level and range of its specialist activities NID established a chair in Design Research in 1989. Many links were forged with other art and design educational institutions in India and overseas, including British art and design higher education institutions as discussed with Baroness Blackstone, British Minister of State for Education and Employment, on her visit to NID in early 2001. NID won many awards for its services to design including, in 1977–8 the ICSID‐Philips Award, the first International Award for Design in Developing Countries. In 1985–6 NID also won the Worldesign Award for outstanding achievements in Industrial Design and the Sir Misha Black Memorial Award in recognition of its contribution to design education.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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