The Design Village: Designing Excellence
Design Village
The Design Village: Designing Excellence

The modern world has made significant advancements in technology, medicine and transport. But we are surrounded by excess everywhere – our population is exploding, there is an overabundance of visual mélange, things are overdesigned and overused, extra focus is on the excess, while the affluence is ostentatious, simultaneously there is the overconsumption of our spaces; to add to this, we have a habit of obsessively hoarding clothing and possessions and are indeed crumbling under all that clutter.

India needs a lifestyle and architecture diet.

We need to hold back in order to navigate through these unusual times. We need to become more resilient and more authentic in order to not get swayed by every fad that comes along. It is a good moment to look at what has stood the test of time.

Therefore, the role of the designer has evolved, and so has design education. Design today is no longer about decoration but about how the skillsets of a designer – creative thinking – can be used to solve pressing societal issues and create new futures.

The Design Village (TDV) is a design institute based out of Noida offering undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in design with a vision to create an impact through design.

The Knowledge Review magazine, in its endeavour, to find ‘Design Colleges of the Year, 2022’, came across Mr Sourabh Gupta and Ms Mridu Sahai, the Founder and Co-Founder of The Design Village. In an interactive conversation, the dynamic duo shares their vision of impacting lives through design while solving the problems of today and proposing new threads of possibility for the future.

Blueprints of The Design Village

Being an interdisciplinary, industry-centric design institute, conceptualizing this incredible design institute started in 2010. The core team of the institute, after extensive worldwide research, came up with research to study the design education landscape and build the future of an extremely responsible profession.

Following the foundation of The Design Village in 2012, with encouragement from the Dutch government, an astute curriculum team was formed with professors from TU Delft, Netherlands and the year 2014 saw the commencement of the first batch of postgraduate students starting their educational journies with The Design Village.

Talking about the ideology behind the inception of this unique design school, Mr Sourabh Gupta says, For design to impact the world, TDV believes that one must investigate what impact that design will have. Therefore, students at TDV learn – how to dream that dream, understand the future and take responsibility for shaping the world. In essence, they design the reason first.”

Continuing the thoughts of Mr Sourabh Gupta, Ms Mridu Sahai adds, “Additionally, TDV also aims to nurture and educate individuals by not limiting them to any particular field of design. Students may choose to not specialize in a particular discipline but can be manifestation independent non-silo designers who can impact and change the world through design in any and every medium imaginable, echoing the ethos that a good designer can design anything.

An Unparalleled Sculptured Unique International Curriculum

The Design Village’s unique curriculum is a joint result of the Indian-Dutch proposal on new perspectives for Indian Design Education called ‘INDEED’ compiled in 2011. This unique and modern curriculum is set under the pretext of designing contemporary, bold and futuristic thinking.

The pedagogies at the Design village nestle in creating the designers of tomorrow who can mould the conventional methods of designing, breaking the stereotypes and questioning the impermanent.

TDV employs design thinking methods to empower students to become responsible and vision-driven “leaders of change” where design-driven innovation is the leading paradigm. Design Villagers dare to rethink processes, undertake systemic challenges and have the courage to address any societal issue.

Through this uniquely curated curriculum, The Design Village offers four years UGC recognized Bachelor of Design, Masters of Design program of two years and a five-year Integrated Masters program.

TDV offers pathways in its Bachelor of Design program: Fashion and Textile Design, Product Design, Space and Interior Design, Graphics and Communication Design, Interaction and UX Design, Transportation and Mobility Design, and a manifestation independent B. Des.

TDV offers pathways in its Masters of Design Program: Fashion and Textile Design, Product Design, Space and Interior Design, and Graphic and Communication Design.

Explaining this unique curation of educational modules, the founder of The Design Village explains, “The Design Village have a unique curation of modules like Implications of Design, Conceptual Aesthetics, Conflicting concerns, Context Mapping, Design for Values, and many more. Each of these courses ensures that the student has a holistic learning experience, looking at design as not merely a manifestation but an intervention in the larger systems of being.”

The 3 Constituent Pillars of The Design Village

While building the curriculum, the core team felt the need to develop a set of core values around which the education at TDV revolves around. Keeping the bigger picture and future aspects in mind, the core team of The Design Village set Villaging, Taskbox and Baskets as the three constituent pillars of the institute.

  • Villaging: Activities for personal development, to build the TDV community and oneself. Villaging helps to engrain in a student the TDV DNA –the qualities of awareness, compassion, courage, and perseverance. We believe that these values form the core of a good designer.
  • Taskbox: Industry-centric design projects, where everything is based, and students get a first-hand experience on real-time projects
  • Baskets: Clusters of courses characterized by a common theme, discipline or learning objective.

Adding more to the core values, is the community developed by the TDV, Ms Mridu Sahai asserts, “Members of the staff are agile and updated with the world and come armed with premier education and exposure. The leadership includes Associate Deans Dr Latika Chaudhary, Ms Mudita Pasari, Mr. Vatsal Agarwal and Mrs Lena R Gupta. It is because of the nature of the personnel in TDV, that we seamlessly transitioned into a purely online learning environment, followed by a hybrid mode. TDV’s International Board of Advisiors, comprising of professors and professionals, ensures that the philosophy flows seamlessly in the institute’s activities and focuses on actively elevating the quality of education through multiple activities like Faculty Development Masterclasses and Teaching Learning Center etc. It is focused on inculcating a learning-oriented culture over a teaching-oriented one.”

Award-Winning Campus

In 2019 Forbes Design awards conferred The Design Village with the Best Institutional Interiors Award. Moreover, to add more laurels to the village, the institute was also awarded the ‘Campus Design Excellence’ award, which was well-deserved.

Explaining the ideation and conversion of a Kattha factory into an educational space, Mr Sourabh Gupta says, “The Design Village is proud to be housed within a repurposed building, which is far more sustainable than constructing a greenfield campus. New life has been instilled into spaces by transforming what was into what is. Cold storages now act as large classrooms, and a chemical pit is the heart of the village, acting as a think tank and a place to meet, discuss ideas, and celebrate. While a boiler which produced enough steam to run a steam engine sits as a backdrop to our student spaces among many such machines.”

Further asserting the architectural experience, Ms Mridu Sahai explains, “Our space is a teacher! Apart from being a unique architectural experience, our campus houses state-of-the-art design facilities– an internationally accredited fab lab that promises technologically driven high-end prototyping, a digital mac-lab, a fashion lab as well as an ever-growing library. We are also proud collaborators with the world acclaimed, 100% organic and sustainable Araku Coffee and have the privilege to have our very own Araku Café on campus.”

On a Mission to Design the World

The Design Village graduates today successfully command a variety of roles across sectors with sustainability, entrepreneurship and technology as their core DNA.

This has been possible through the constant guidance of prominent members of the advisory board of TDV : Dr Paul Hekkert, IDE Technical University of Delft, Netherlands, Prof Jeroen Van Erp Founder, Fabrique, Netherlands, Mr Christian Guellerin, Executive Director, L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, France Honorary President, Cumulus Association, Mr Alexander Von Vegesack Founder and President, Centre International de Recherche et d’Education Culturel et Agricole, France, Mathias Schwartz-Clauss Director, Domaine de Boisbuchet, France.

With a panel of diverse international visionaries, The Design Village offers incredible international exposure opportunities to its students and staff to enhance their learning experience that will help curate numerous possibilities in their careers as designers.

Asserting particular importance to the international exposure opportunities offered by the institute to its students, Mr Sourabh Gupta says, “Students get curated design travel opportunities through our in-house initiative of Dtours India – aimed to spread awareness of architecture, design, art and culture through travel. Students have travelled extensively to countries in Europe and even Japan through this initiative. Such experiences have been extremely humbling and empowering for them.”

“TDV also has the privilege of running its Summer-Winter school at the incredible learning environment of Domaine de Boisbuchet, an international hub for design in France. Design Villagers have travelled to France multiple times to build the India Pavillion and permanent installations and exhibitions on their campus. TDV is also the official partner of Domaine de Boisbuchet for their outreach and communication in India,” adds TDV’s co-founder, Ms Mridu Sahai.

Explaining the details of TDV’s student venture abroad, Ms Mridu Sahai explains, “Every student at TDV is also encouraged to study abroad for a semester. A selection of courses at partnering schools like L’école de Design Nantes Atlantique enables students to look at the Indian context with a refreshed perspective while working in a foreign country.”

Life at TDV- Creating Impact Through Design

The Design Village has curated a unique learning experience with its award-winning campus and internationally accepted curriculum. Welcoming, diverse students from all over the country, TDV, over the years, has built a strong community worldwide.

The Design Village has prepared itself for the rapidly changing world. Fore sighting the new emerging careers and the gap created in the formal education system, TDV has encouraged students to think macro, develop broad interests and skills, acknowledge and embrace the diverse experience and gather information across multiple domains to keep surfing swiftly through the learning process.

Highlighting the diverse lifestyle of the villagers, Ms Mridu Sahai asserts, “The projects chosen by students at TDV reflect the societal challenges that exist today – from addressing the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, to considering taboos of gender violence, menstrual health, inclusivity, consumption, community engagement. The curriculum leans towards understanding design as a verb, not as a noun – something traditional design education entailed.”

“Every student at TDV is encouraged to study abroad for a semester. A selection of courses at partnering schools like L’école de Design Nantes Atlantique enables students to look at the Indian context with a refreshed perspective while working in a foreign country.”

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