Series on design teachers in India:
Professor MP Ranjan, India’s Design Guru (9.11.1950-9.8.2015)
“Design is a very old human capability that has been forgotten by the mainstream educational systems and the traditionalists alike. Both these streams need to reestablish contact with the discipline if we are to face the vagaries of change that is upon us from all directions.” —M.P. Ranjan (2003)
Born in 1950 to an entrepreneur father, MV Gopalan in Madras, whose influence played a major role in his interest in furniture design.
He studied PG programme in Furniture & Product Design at National Institute of Design (NID).
He joined NID in 1969 and was a member of the faculty by 1972.
Between 1974 and 1976, he worked as a professional designer in Madras after which he returned to NID as a full time faculty member in 1976
He headed the consulting arm of the NID from 1981-1991. During the period of those ten years he facilitated more than 400 collaborative projects between the faculties and their corporate or government clients.
Between 1991-1995, he set up a prolific set of design publications and was known, among the students, for teaching core design theory courses since 1981, naming it ‘Design Concepts and Concerns’.
He also headed the NID Centre for Bamboo Initiatives at NID till 2010.
He was an adjunct professor (design) at Ahmedabad University. Prof Ranjan was also part of the faculty of design, Cept University, from 2012 to 2014.
Systems Thinking and Design part of the academic programme, established by MP Ranjan, involves the application of the systems approach towards complex issues and wicked problems from socio-cultural-economic-environmental perspective with high level of ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity.
He was responsible for the creation and conduct of numerous courses dealing with Design Theory and Methodology, Product and Furniture Design and numerous domains of Digital Design.
He conducted research in many areas of Design Pedagogy, Industrial and Craft Design and on the role of design policy in various sectors of the Indian economy.
He was design chair at Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre from April 2012 to April 2013.
He was counted among the world’s top 20 Design Thinkers along with IDEO David Kelly and Brad Pitt.
He handled many design projects while he was at NID for industrial, government and international agencies in areas of product design, interior design, exhibition design, craft design and design policy. He headed the NID’s Publications and Resource Centre as well as the Information Technology initiatives as the Chairman Computer Centre and Head Apple Academy at NID. He completed many major projects for the UNDP and Government agencies to demonstrate the role of bamboo as a sustainable craft and industrial material of the future. His many innovations contributed to the creation of many new strategies for the use of bamboo in India.
His passion to document and share knowledge became a tool when he published a book along with his wife and fellow designer, Aditi Ranjan, Handmade in India. The book is an official directory of all the crafts and was published by the Department of Handicrafts, Ministry of Textiles and the Government of India. It is one of his two best-known books, the other one being Bamboo and Cane Crafts of Northeast India, a book analyzing the cultural and material potential of Bamboo.
He edited numerous volumes of NID publications including the “Young Designers” series and is author of a major book titled “Bamboo and Cane Crafts of Northeast India” (1986) and two CD-ROMs titled “Bamboo Boards and Beyond” (2001) and “Beyond Grassroots” (2003) which contain all his papers and reports on bamboo and on design.
He played a major role in conceptualising and setting up of two new design schools in India, one for the craft sector (Indian Institute of Crafts and Design, Jaipur) and the other for the bamboo sector (Bamboo and Cane Development Institute in Agartala).
He used blogging as a means to show the state of design in India which soon gained global attention. It became a major platform for Indian design discourse.
"Ranjan was many things to many people, He was an educator and a mentor, pushing boundaries and encouraging each of us to do more and think more. He was a design evangelist, speaking up for causes and being a catalyst of change. He was a source of inspiration, igniting in each of us an ability to think beyond our abilities. He was a farmer, planting within each of us the seed of curiosity and discovery." - Sajith Ansar.
"Ranjan was a warm and compassionate person and a great educator. Thousands of students will mourn. I was pleased to be able to call him my friend." - Don Norman, author of the book, Design of Everyday Things
"Ranjan and I were just exchanging emails on a quest for new insights into old design terms in design. I will miss him as a colleague and friend of immense integrity and intellectual honesty."- Harold Nelson, the author of The Design Way
"He would always tell me that the day he was born in the year 1950, his house in Madras got connected with electricity, like he was the brightest star. He said it with that adorable brag quotient he had that few could get away with." - Sujata Shankar Kumar, a furniture design graduate
"Ranjan left his square foot better than he found it." - Ken Friedman, Professor at the Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne and fellow designer
|Address:||Cane & Bamboo, Design guru, Geometry, India design, MP RANJAN, NID,Ahmedabad|