Thinking about Design

This part of the semester, we work with design and begin our 7-week exploration of research and thinking, working with “Parts of a Whole”. Since the students pick their specialisations over the next few weeks, it is crucial that they know their options and make well-researched and thought through decisions. Integrative Seminar and Studio tackles this process of understanding design AND teaches students the methods of research and academic writing.

The Design of Everyday Objects by Don Norman ¬†is an excellent place to start and the class divided the first chapter in groups of four to read, explain and discuss it. The discussion was great– we all participated and bite-sized chunks understood the essay, which any way was written lucidly. ūüôā

For next week, we’re making formal presentations on 4 leaders of design from the specialisations offered at ISDI (Communication, Fashion, Interior, and Product), to investigate the growth of the disciplines, and how the greats became great.



Over the last two weeks, we worked with the final texts to create the tunnel book. Last week I noticed a reluctance to see the metaphorical meaning, perhaps because the visual imagery inspired by the lines were incredibly tough to get past.

This week, therefore, we started with deconstructing couplets from our favourite songs, to help us see the literal and the metaphorical. While the exercise was a lot of fun, we were led to seeing deeper meaning into seemingly cheesy lyrics.

The class ended with each student converting their Calvino passage into a short poem, attempting to capture the poem’s essence.

Writing and Working Sessions

Over the last few weeks we have examined every inch of Invisible Cities, and worked with the three lenses of memory, constructed environments and semiotics. The time is now ripe to combine these elements and make a new narrative, taking off from the chosen passages but making them entirely our own.

To begin with, the class dealt with the basic structure of (any) story and made a skeleton for their own fresh narrative. Creating subheadings, then filling them out, we now have completely different Invisible Cities.


Class Reflections

Over the last two weeks we thought about built spaces within invisible cities and examined how Calvino creates the cities with his words and ideas. The interplay between nature and man-made constructions, approach to the city, it’s people, the way we navigate it, were all telling of the deeper meaning, the metaphoric, if you like.

This conversation extended beautifully into understanding the role of signs and symbols in our visualisation of the city. A quick introduction to semiotics helped us understand the role of language and communication in our daily lives, as we were introduced to thinkers and philosophers like Wittgenstein, Saussure, Barthes and Derrida. The class then looked deeply into their texts to find the signifiers, signified and signs in their individual passages, focussing both on the literal and the metaphoric.

Thinking About Memory

How do you think about memory, if you must in terms of individual and collective memory? Is personal and private memory different from that of a community, a society, and finally the nation?

How do you deal with statements like “That may be your history but this is my past!”

A good way to think about this is with this flow-chart: memory .png

Passage Selection!

This is the list of passages Section A is working with:

  1. Clayton: Cities & Memory 3 (pg 9)
  2. Aashna: Cities & the Dead 4 (pg 114)
  3. Ishita: Cities & the Dead 3 (pg 98)
  4. Sanya: Cities & Desire 3 (pg 40)
  5. Akanksha: Cities & Eyes 1 (pg 45)
  6. Annida: Continuous  Cities 1 (Pg 102)
  7. Aanchal: Trading Cities 3 (pg 56)
  8. Dhyani: Cities & Desire 4 (Pg 28)
  9. Aarohi: Trading Cities 5 (Pg 79)
  10. Damini: Cities & Desire (pg 9)
  11. Niharika: Cities & Desire (pg 39)
  12. Dhvani:  Cities & The Dead (pg 84)
  13. Disha:  Cities & Signs 1 (pg 11)
  14. Ashlesha:  Cities & the Dead (pg 34)
  15. Aayushi:  Cities & Eyes ( pg 95)
  16. Hrishikesh:  Thin Cities (pg 42)
  17. Lila : City and Eyes (pg 45)

Photographic Memory

In the second week of class, we worked with the ideas of memory, using the text as an anchor. As memory is personal and frequently associated with a space, even one that you’ve only heard of, it evokes a response, and adds layers to what we remember, and HOW we remember too!

This week, work with the images below to craft a fictional anecdoteРimagine YOU are in the frameР based on the images below. Write about 150 words per image.

INDIA. Mumbai. A view of Marine Drive from atop the flyover, 2010.
INDIA. Mumbai. A view of Marine Drive from atop the flyover, 2010.
INDIA. Mumbai. Students trying their hands at a portrait session at JJ School of Arts, 2010.
INDIA. Mumbai. Children having a goat-drawn cart ride at Juhu Beach, 1971.
INDIA. Mumbai. Children having a goat-drawn cart ride at Juhu Beach, 1971.

All Photos courtesy: Magnum Photos. Rights held by photographer / Magnum. The pictures are used for educational purposes only. Explore more photos: