#TAOD (The Agency Of Design, December 18, 2016):

Are you proud of your buckets and combs? Is a cup culture-specific? What’s typical? Are objects a part of your identity? Can empathy be created? Can buildings foster (multidimensional) equity? What is bad design? Do the best designs (try to) do many things simultaneously? Does a challenging design problem always involve trade-offs and incentive conflicts? How do evolving needs, preferences, and available resources lead to new categories? Why do non information intensive products (such as debt) catering to perennial needs stay central for a very long time? How sharp or fuzzy are the boundaries between different products? Why don’t we have labels for everything? Do we reduce the complexity of the world by creating affordances and categories? Is design always particular to a context? Are the best designs aware of the context of the context? What makes designs robust? Are income tax systems also influenced by norms of culture and identity? Are markets culturally neutral? Can designs enable transitions? Will we (even) be designing for particular needs in the future? How can self-regulating non-manipulative infrastructure be created; would community formation play a key role? Is the future of design ecological? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from design (Prof. Uday Athavankar, IIT Bombay, Mumbai), mechanism design (Prof. Praveen Kumar, University of Houston, Texas), & architecture (Prof. Rahul Mehrotra, Harvard University, Massachusetts).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TAOD show.

Prof. Uday Athavankar (design) is Professor of Design & Adjunct Faculty at Industrial Design Centre (IDC), IIT Bombay, Mumbai. He studied at Sir JJ College of Architecture and then worked as an architect for four years before switching over to Industrial Design in 1970. He studied Industrial Design at Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago & soon after joined as a faculty at IDC. His research interests are product design, communication theory, design process and methods, product planning, object and culture relationship, & product semantics. He has also explored the role of mental imagery (as a tool for design thinking), spatial intelligence and visual thinking with special focus on gestures, imagery, & rediscovering sketching as a support to creative thought. His current interests are in frugal design with focus on areas like innovation in affordable housing and designing frugal games with an educational purpose. His recent projects deal with culture specific localization of products and technologies for global companies such as NCR, Unilever, Nokia and Samsung entering markets in India and Asia pacific region with new products. He was honored by the President of India for his design of India specific low cost ATM for NCR. Recently his contributions were recognized by the Association of Designers of India (ADI) with an honorary membership. He has served as Head, IDC and then Dean, IIT Bombay (1989-91). He is also on the advisory board of several international research journals.

Prof. Praveen Kumar (mechanism design) is the Cullen Distinguished Chaired Professor of Finance and the Executive Director of the UH Global Energy Management Institute (GEMI) in the Bauer College of Business at University of Houston (UH). Prof. Kumar received his Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University and his Bachelors (with Honors) and Masters in Public Administration from Princeton University. He has also served on the faculty of the Graduate School of Industrial Administration at Carnegie Mellon University (1985-1996). His research interests focus on the role of information in contracting and financial markets, corporate finance and governance, financial market microstructure, energy finance and risk-management, and incentives and strategy design in organizations. He is an expert in the evaluation and financing of energy projects, the valuation of embedded options, and in the analysis of industry structure and competitive advantage in the oil and gas industry. He has published actively in key scholarly journals, such as Journal of Finance, Rand Journal of Economics, Management Science, and Strategy Management Journal. His research has been cited and discussed in major business publications like The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Bloomberg News. He has received many awards, such as, the Chicago Board of Trade Awards for the Best Paper in Options and Futures by the Western Finance Association and the McGraw-Hill Award for the Best Finance Paper by the Association of Business Disciplines.

Prof.  Rahul Mehrotra (architecture) is Professor of Urban Design and Planning at the Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard University, Cambridge, and a practicing architect & urban designer. He is also the Founder Principal at RMA Architects, a firm he founded in 1990 in Mumbai. He studied at the School of Architecture, Ahmedabad, and then graduated with a Master’s Degree in Urban Design with distinction from the GSD at Harvard (1987). RMA Architects has designed and executed projects for clients that include government agencies, corporate, private individuals and institutions, along with initiating unsolicited projects driven by their commitment to advocacy in the city of Mumbai. Prof. Mehrotra has written and lectured extensively on architecture, conservation, and urban planning in Mumbai & India. His writings include coauthoring ‘Bombay – The Cities Within’, ‘Banganga – Sacred Tank’, ‘Public Places Bombay’, ‘Bombay to Mumbai – Changing Perspectives’ and ‘The Kumbh Mela – mapping the ephemeral mega city’. He coauthored a study, titled, ‘Conserving an Image Center – The Fort Precinct in Bombay’, & based on this study and its recommendations, the historic Fort area in Mumbai was declared a conservation precinct in 1995, the first such designation in India. His latest book ‘Architecture in India, since 1990’ became the basis for an exhibition he co curated titled, ‘The State of Architecture – Practises and Processes’ in India which was opened at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Mumbai in January 2016.

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TAOD mentionsLudwig Wittgenstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Bengt Holmström, & Neil Brenner,  among others.