This is the first of five editions of a conversation between myself and Satyendra Pakhalé about various concerns on creation, ideas, point of views and processes surrounding design. We hope that we will be able to bring forward ideas that could lead to development of better and more desirous creation. Design that creates difference and meaning for companies, organisations and for the individual. Design that can reshape our ideas. Please feel free to comment everything we are talking about. We believe in mind sharing and would love to get your insights.

As it looks today the five different editions (first one starts today) of the conversation will touch the following topics:

1. humanistic and cultural values
2. sustainability
3. sensorial products
4. material innovation
5. iconic design


First I would like to make a short introduction of my conversation partner Satyendra Pakhalé:

Satyendra Pakhalé is an international designer and cultural nomad based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. After completing his Bachelor of Engineering, Master of Design in India and Advanced Product Design in Switzerland, he worked at Philips Design – creating new products and scenarios for new business creations, among others in the areas of digital communication and transportation.


In 1998 he set up his own design practice in Amsterdam. Since then he has been working on his own projects and on projects for diverse industries in many different countries. Renowned companies such as Alessi, Italy; Bosa, Italy; Cappellini, Italy; Colombo Design, Italy; C-Sam, USA/UK; CorUnum, The Netherlands; Curvet, Italy; De Vecchi, Italy; Erreti, Italy; Offecct, Sweden; Magis, Italy; Moroso, Italy; RSVP, Italy; SCA, Sweden; Tubes, Italy; Väveriet, Sweden; and organizations like Material ConneXion (USA) rank among his clients.


The design work of Satyendra Pakhalé are in several public collections, among others Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and Centre Pompidou, Paris. Recently he has been invited to art-direct and head the Master programme in Design for Humanity and Sustainable Living at Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Since 2005 Satyendra Pakhalé has been advisor on the Board of Directors of the Ambassadors Board, Design & Technology community chain mission, Eindhoven, NL.


OK – let’s start the conversation:

David Carlson (DC)
Satyendra, please let me know a little more about your recent invitation to art-direct and Head the Master of Design for Humanity and Sustainable Living at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Satyendra Pakhalé (SP)
Almost two years ago I was asked by Li Edelkoort, Board of Director and Chair woman of Design Academy Eindhoven to consider to head the Masters programme in Design for Humanity.
Then I was not so sure as I was extremely busy with several projects with my practice and perhaps the time was not so right for me. Then, a bit more than a year later, the education director along with Li Edelkoort suggested me again, and that made me think. After considerable deliberation over last summer vacation, I decided to accept to Art-direct and head the Masters of Design for Humanity. The nice thing about it is that it has been organized in a new way- that means I do not have any conventional responsibilities with the institution. It’s all being taken care by the programme coordinator along with the department coordinator. This situation makes the best use of my time and tries to get the best possible results in a given time. I am like a consultant to give a creative vision on design faced towards a humanistic and hopeful stance, which will help, build a fresh approach to sustainable living. These issues are dear to my heart and I have been working on these issues for a while. Besides, my practice consists of professional practice, design education and consistent research. Somehow this situation allows me to work in all these fields without loosing my main core focus on my design practice.


Looking at your own designs they all have a strong humanistic and cultural touch. Do you think this is an important component in modern design?


Yes indeed it is certainly an important issue, in today’s context we need it more and more than before – as the real human cross cultural issues come to the surface in all the societies around the world in general and specially European context in particular.
We still really need to understand in industrial cultures and learn how to refocus our attention to humanistic and cultural aspects in industry rather than the technological focus that we predominantly have right now.
As we all know, technology for the sake of technology does not mean much, unless it delivers. Besides, we also know that almost everybody has access to almost all kinds of technologies around the world, therefore to refocus on a culture of creation is the utmost need.
I have been concern about these issues for a long time.


I do also see your design as very personal. I could probably spot one of your designs without knowing them in beforehand. Do you find a lack of personality in the design community today?


Recently Mr. Rolf Fehlbaum of VITRA said there are many designers and very few authors. I agree with that. I would say to negate personality in any creative filed of work is an error; however to remain satisfied with personality alone is yet a greater error.
In the case of a really great individual the greatness lies in his/her having gone beyond his/her individualism. I feel design should not be impeded by individualism. Stress upon individualism alone is totally unsatisfactory, even though we all designers get benefited by it sometimes. On the other hand where do we find true creation without individualism!!! So having no individuality and transcending it- these two issues must not be confused.


Design can answer the important question WHAT. What kinds of demand will a certain product create, what kind of problem is it solving? Technology will only answer the question HOW. How do we deliver this solution? Despite of this a lot of companies are still trying to make their products into the category equivalence of the Swiss Army Knife. Why do you think we see this behavior over and over all the time?


It is perhaps not being able to take a position- a creative strong point of view, or may be a lack of confidence or trust in their own abilities or perhaps almost no trust in the people by and large who are end users or combination of many things of that sort. One could observe this in many companies driven by so-called marketing experts. We will certainly continue our conversation further on these issues.


Stay tuned for the next part of the conversation between David Carlson and Satyendra Pakhalé concerning sustainability. Soon at a computer near you…

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