On Friday, November 18th 2011, Studio X Mumbai hosted A.B.C.D.E.— an open discussion on design process, presenting studies from Droog Lab’s 11-day workshop in the informal settlement of Dharavi, Mumbai.

“Designers often have a desired outcome in mind, and the design process becomes a means of realizing this pre-determined outcome. We are investigating how the unique qualities of an informal economy might inform different ways of working for designers,” says Renny Ramakers, co-founder and director of Droog and initiator of the project.

Starting with a diagram found with a Google search on Indian mathematics, the team engaged with producers in Dharavi, creating iterations of the diagram as a means to understand the equation and to develop a way of working with each other. Each iteration is a study that generates the next, blurring the boundary between study and object, tool and result, in an open-ended process that builds upon the capacities of the system.

“The abstract diagram was a way of breaking routine for the designers and the producers,” says Bas Princen. “Production of ordinary goods was replaced by experiments in new ways of engaging, involving input both from the designers and the producers. As designers we had to adjust our attitudes to work within this system.”

The discussion, moderated by Rajeev Thakker (Studio X Mumbai), included Renny Ramakers (Droog), Bas Princen, Quaid Doongerwala and Shilpa Ranade (DCOOP Architects), Ishan Khosla, Eric Klarenbeek, Jorge Mañes (Droog), Rahul Srivastava (URBZ), Ranjana Dani, (MIT Institute of Design, Pune), Radhika Desai (Domus India), Rohan Shivkumar (architect), and Agata Jaworska (Droog) in conversation with the audience.

Areas of discussion included adaptability as a generator of design, the role of the social bond within economic transactions, the role of the designer in creating a framework for an open-ended production process, the value of open-ended design process and results, the possibility to translate findings to other situations, and possible next steps in this investigation.

A.B.C.D.E.—an open discussion on design process is part of the Droog Lab series, ‘Here, there, everywhere,’ which investigates how people in daily situations worldwide can inspire new directions for the future of design. 

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