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Design an effective tool to add value to socio-economic development: US consul general

Grace W. Shelton Consul General of the US in Karachi while emphasizing the significance of design evolution in the modern world has said the art of designing is more than aesthetic as it is the design that adds value to economic and social development.

The US diplomat was peaking at the concluding session of the international design conference organized by Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS) in collaboration with Kennesaw State University (KSU), Georgia, USA. The conference was sponsored by US State Department under the Higher Education Academic Exchange Partners Program between IVS and KSU. This partnership was established in 2013 and students and faculty have visited partner universities and this conference was the culmination of the exchange program.

Grace said that design also about functions utility and cooperating new technologies and has a power to explore economic wealth and development. The conference has provided opportunities to develop networks and increase energy and connected world and it’s productive for future project in research, she said.

While appreciating the endeavor of the IVS she said Indus Valley is the most beautiful College of Pakistan, US Department of State is so proud to be the sponsor of this conference as part of its overall academic vision for education in Pakistan.

IVS and KSU hosted visits of faculty and students for past 3 years, this includes some sessions for the conference as well. Beyond this collaboration it’s so fascinating to see the range of paper topics, from urban design to Truck Art, to cultural preservation, to innovation. These issues, penciled in the artistic world, are relevant to the global development of art and design.

She appreciated the role of IVS in making concerted efforts in enabling responsible students who are aware of social, economic and political problems.

Under the design evolution theme many academic topics ranging from Darwin’s theory of evolution to Plato’s philosophy of Design; from Social Responsibility in Design to new technologies of the modern digital design, from sustainability to deeply rooted environmental issues, from cross over between art and design to what should be taught in design education with other related fields such as advertising, culture, heritage, social media, fashion and textile in the South/Central Asian and cross cultural context were debated and discussed.

This allowed researchers and academics to explore different facets of design in a rapidly changing modern world. The research encouraged through this forum expands on the broader understanding of design examining specific issues of methodologies, ethics, appropriation, contextualization, urbanization, ornamentation and visual culture. A conference proceeding with 55 primary research papers was published in advance of the conference.

The keynote speaker Prof. Mehrdad Hadighi from Penn State University, USA traced the relationship of theory and philosophy of architectural design through a highly academic talk. He used Darwin’s assertion about design without the designer to explain that the scientist of evolution believed that favorable variations in natural design such as the birds’ beaks even are preserved and that those variations that are ‘neither useful nor injurious’ are not affected by natural selection, and would be left either in a state of flux, or ‘would ultimately fixed, owing to the nature of the organism and the nature of the conditions.’ He also noted that design is a bridge between art and science but the ‘designer has now been distanced from his ideas by getting someone else to materialize it’.

What he actually implied that the designers who at one time both designed and follow their work through the implement process is not doing it any more. This has resulted in to a gap which has affected the overall outcomes. The separation of design and construction is like a ‘divorce between thinking and working’. He further explained that the bifurcation of the concept from its execution has compromised the creativity and it has resulted into degradation.

Before the keynote speech, IVS Dean of Academics Dr. Jawaid Haider highlighted the theme which he said suggests the importance of conscious choices that shape the nature and character of future development. In this context, the symbolic relationship between education and practice has substantially influenced design evolution.

He noted the ‘schism between education and practice today manifests a superficial understanding of interdisciplinary nature of design — a state not subject to observation, but to imagination, prediction and speculation.’

Professor Emeritus Shehnaz Ismail considered it as her privileged to be part of it, the mission to reach out to city and country and rest of the world has been fulfilled by this conference, two days of amazing learning and sharing with experience and energetic new generation of artists, designers their observation and reflection of a fresh perspective of hope of the future, and also to be thankful to Kennesaw University State Department and IVS that IDC has provided tremendous exposure to the students. She said conference has been a celebration of human imagination.

She dedicated few lines to foreign faculty members who couldn’t come to attend the conference because of the security threat and the travel advise which didn’t allow them to come to Karachi: “we miss our American teachers from Kennesaw University but tomorrow is another day, we will wait for them tomorrow. After all we are all good people and we want design and education should flourish as we all are integrated through a natural design in the scheme of the universe.”

Samina Raees Khan the Executive Director of the School said, IVS/KSU conference is a massive learning experience for all of us. She said the primary goal of the conference was to establish an interactive dialogue to articulate theoretical concerns among design professionals and educators. She hopes the result of this academic interaction would encourage research both in education and practice. IVS wants to encourage the tradition of academic scholarship across all design professions and disciplines.

She said ‘I am glad that regardless of the current security situation, we all are here for this conference. I also acknowledge and appreciate everybody who has contributed in the IDC, specially Dr. Gulzar Haider, Professor Emeritus Shehnaz Ismail, Dr. Mehrdad Hadighi, Dr. Javed Haider, Prof. Talat Azhar, Richard Bayon, Anthony Tranchinaand Ms. Grace Shelton herself by attending and contributing to the conference..

IVS has achieved yet another milestone to get close to its vision 2025. The Indus Valley School of Art and Architect aspires to become one of the leading art and design institute in research and innovation. While rendering her thank you note and concluding the IVS/KSU International Design Conference 2017, Karachi, she quoted Winston Churchill that “Now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.

The Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture is one of the foremost art and architecture institution in Pakistan. Its Campus is known for its 100 year old heritage,  known as Nuserwanjee Building. The building was transplanted through a project under which the two founders of the school, Ar. Arshad Abdullah (late) and Ar. Shahid Abdullah have brought it from Kharadar to its present location in Clifton, Karachi.

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