Home/ Mint-lounge / A design book that fails with its own design

Indian design seems to be in dire straits, if Darlie Koshy’s treatise on the subject is any example of homegrown design talent. The director of the National Institute of Design (NID) has been doing the rounds in a countrywide book launch of Indian Design Edge: Strategic Insights for Success in the Creative Economy. India is at the cusp of a design boom, and this is an apt time to take account of the state of design and advise on the direction the design industry here should take. But Koshy’s strategic insights have been lost amid shoddy book layout, a flurry of hollow buzzwords and far too much insider talk.

Return to sender: Missing captions are just one flaw in Koshy’s book.

Despite the rule of thumb that books should not be judged by their cover, a book on design is an exception. Simply on the basis of its layout, Koshy’s book fails to make any positive comments on design. Rather than being an easy read, the text is in huge chunks, with few subheads or pointers. It is visually boring. It’s entirely in black and white. And the photographs that have been included are not always pertinent. In fact, though Koshy frequently refers to products, logos and machinery in his text, visuals have often been left out. For an industry entirely dependent on the visual element, it seems strange to omit photographs. In the instances that photographs have been provided, captions provide little insight and rarely carry a full explanation.

In a case study on Titan watches, two pages have been dedicated to praising the specific models in the Heritage collection. Though eight watches appear on the page, no labels designate which watch is which.

Perhaps the look of the book could be forgiven if the text itself was not so dense and convoluted. Koshy makes sweeping statements without evidence to back them up. For example, he says, “Indian companies are now seriously discussing the need for connecting culture and emotion through design and the new products hitting the Indian marketplace frequently indicate this trend." Which products? How can the reader understand how a company successfully connects “culture" and “emotion" in a product if there is no example of it? He often speaks in platitudes that could have any number of meanings. He mentions case studies to prove his points, but provides few actionable points other designers could take away as lessons.

Koshy does have smart points and good advice for a country on the verge of a huge design boom. He argues for more government support of design, more recognition of the importance of design education, and a greater embracing of traditional design. The country sorely needs his ideas and suggestions. It’s a shame that his message has been lost amid messy design and overwriting.

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Updated: 11 Oct 2008, 12:40 AM IST
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