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Kerala Formulating Design Policy for Sustainable Infrastructure, Says CM

Kochi Design Week 2019, touted as India’s largest design conclave, was organised by Electronics and IT Department of Kerala in association with WDO and IxDA Kerala is working towards developing a Design Policy for promoting sustainable infrastructure that employs innovative designs for habitats and smart cities, according to Pinarayi Vijayan, State Chief Minister. Speaking at

Kochi Design Week 2019, touted as India’s
largest design conclave, was organised by Electronics and IT Department of
Kerala in association with WDO and IxDA

Kerala is working towards developing a Design Policy for promoting sustainable infrastructure that employs innovative designs for habitats and smart cities, according to Pinarayi Vijayan, State Chief Minister.

Speaking at the valedictory session of the second edition of the Kochi Design Week (KDW) recently, he said the government will launch a ‘Kerala Design Festival’ by scaling up the existing KDW format through integration of multiple events. That will make it the  world’s largest and longest such annual event, he pointed out, adding, “Kerala Tourism can market it globally so that it will be one more reason for the creative community to travel to Kerala.”

KDW, touted as India’s largest design conclave, was organised by the Electronics and IT Department of Kerala Government in association with bodies such as World Design Organisation (WDO) and Interaction Design Association (IxDA) at Bolgatty Palace in Kochi. The conclave witnessed the convergence of experts from across the world to discuss global trends in design and architecture, and help position Kerala as an international hub for design companies.

Noting that design had an “inherent potential” across disciplines, the Chief Minister said the government will work with the Kerala Startup Mission and similar agencies to assess the areas that require more focus amid an ongoing mission to rebuild the State’s infrastructure.

“We will come up with necessary interventions to boost entrepreneurship, skilling and other related areas,” Pinarayi Vijayan said.

KDW discussed the latest trends in design as well as architecture for their effective implementation to counter natural calamities.

More than 100 speakers from within India and 12 other countries addressed sessions and workshops as well as masterclasses which saw the participation of 3,000-plus design professionals, architects, interior designers, thought leaders, policymakers and government officials.

The Chief Minister described the KDW as a unique event in Kerala’s industrial history, where scholars and experts in a range of disciplines came together to celebrate ‘design’. The event marked “a unique cross-disciplinary attempt” through the coming together of various industry bodies, he said.

He recalled the natural calamities Kerala faced during the monsoons of 2018 and 2019, and expressed apprehensions about a “repeat” of such a tragedy. Given that the administration is striving to rebuild Kerala into a “better, more resilient and environment-friendly place”, he said, “design thinking and creative design experiences could speed up the mission.”

Pinarayi Vijayan described creativity as a domain where Kerala can play a lead role. Several MNCs across the country and abroad have Malayalis as decision-makers in the creative or design domain, he said.

To make Kerala the world’s creative hub, the CM reiterated, the government will build a design-centric ‘Centre of Excellence’ in Kochi, with hardware and software facilities, fablabs and prototyping facilities besides talent-grooming and community development initiatives.

Tom Jose IAS, Kerala Chief Secretary, said the success of KDW 2019 showed the immense potential of the State to emerge as the world’s design capital. “This morning, I visited the stalls here and could sense the richness of talent we have in design,” he added.

M Sivasankar IAS, Secretary, IT & Electronics, Government of Kerala, welcoming the gathering, said the KDW has grown in stature from its inaugural edition. “This time, it’s not just the government organising the event; we have partners as well,” he pointed out, adding Kerala is an emerging global hub of creativity, given the strong pool of talents the State has.


The other speakers were V Sunil Kumar, MD, Asset Homes and Abbey V Rodrigues, Senior Vice President – Sales, CERA Sanitaryware.

Proposing vote of thanks, Arun Balachandran, KDW Special Officer and Kerala Chief Minister’s Fellow (IT), said the event would not have been a reality without the support of the partners.

Earlier, the Chief Minister gave away awards to the winner of ‘Kerala Design Challenge’ held by International School of Creative Arts. Krishna Sunil, a student of the AFD Institute in Kochi, won the cash prize of Rs. 25,000. Four runners-up won a collective purse of Rs. 20,000. The winners of another contest titled ‘Tagline’, conducted as part of the KDW, were declared at the function. Hibi Eden MP gave away the awards to 10 top winners who won Rs. 10,000 each.

The KDW 2019 also hosted an international blockchain summit and an inclusive platform named ‘Design Open’. There were also exhibitions, installations and contests apart from cultural shows and a unique food fair.

‘Design is Indispensable’

“Design sector should become more democratic in its approach by considering the needs of the people on the ground as they are the primary consumers,” said P Sreeramakrishnan, Speaker of Kerala Legislative Assembly earlier while inaugurating the three-day KDW, India’s largest design conclave.

In this era, design is an indispensable component in every domain rather than a mere fabric factor, Sreeramakrishnan said. “We are articulating a form that people can understand. When they understand it more, they will start appreciating it vastly,” he said.

We have tremendous talent in this field and we should look for more investments by showcasing the strength of the State. Events like #Future, the next edition of which will be held in April 2020, and KDW are the best ways to showcase us as a marketplace

S D Shibulal, Chairman, High Power IT Committee (HPIC) and Co-founder & former MD & CEO, Infosys

Creative design has an important role now. The government would like to view events like these as a platform where we do a lot of introspection

M Sivasankar IAS, Secretary, Department of IT & Electronics

 Titan has an incubation programme called Ignitor under which interested employees are allowed to set up startup companies. Since disruption is the only way forward, we are going beyond manufacturing watches. We also partner with startups who have technology solutions

Revathi Kant, Chief Design Officer, Titan

 Apart from generating investment opportunities, most of the startups from Kerala give emphasis to solving social problems. We have hardware startups in the State and we need support of organisations for scaling them up

Dr. Saji Gopinath CEO, Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM)

 Indians are willing to work collectively and be successful. The traditional Indian lifestyle takes only one-tenth of the carbon footprint as compared to the American lifestyle. A change in mindset from thinking about a technology stack to a customer-experience stack is required to excel in designing for people

Eric Schaffer, Founder & Head of Human Factors International

 We want Indian startups to go global. Quite often, lack of apt design for entrepreneurships with excellent ideas lead to them fizzling out

Shalini Chandnani Head, NASSCOM Design4India

PPPs should ideally be Public-Private-Community Partnerships (PPCPs). Addressing social issues, too, should be accorded top priority

Alkesh Kumar Sharma, CEO, Cochin SmartCity Mission

 I would like to draw the attention of authorities to certain shortcomings of major projects. The Kochi Metro Rail, for instance, is yet to think about a train connectivity between downtown Ernakulam and the airport at Nedumbassery

Abbey V Rodrigues, Senior Vice President – Sales, Cera Sanitaryware

The flow of investment to startups has been going down for the last one year. This is due to the rate of failures among startups

Srini R Srinivasan CEO, Lumium and President-elect, World Design Organisation

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