Kendama Toy

Consisting of two different sized wooden cups, a spike and a ball that is connected by a string to the centre, this traditional Japanese toy was known to be a common necessity in all hunting cultures for early childhood used for training of hand-eye coordination. Although Japan’s indigenous people invented the Kendama game (pulling the ball upward and catching it in one of the cups or aiming the hole of the ball on the spike) the toy was considered to derive from a European import. From this assumption, the design arrived in Japan via the Silk Road at around 1777. Today, the Kendama toy can be seen and used as a toy, purely for entertainment or skill development.

Dubai’s City Development Destroys Environment

Growth has been so rapid and enormous that people forget about the effects it has on the environment. Initially it was more of a business-comes-first attitude but now that environmental issue has risen, design professionals has come to realise that they have to be more cautious with what is being designed or built. The sustainability of the new booming Dubai is a worry for environmentalists. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was ranked first as the least environmentally friendly country where residents in Dubai uses twice the resources as oppose to the people in Britain, according to recent global analysis of ecological resource use. [1]



Transformed from a regional centre to a global centre, other countries in the gulf are looking into following the same direction as Dubai, especially as they prepare for a population boom. With Dubai’s city still growing in terms of infrastructure and architecture, a number of problems are still not resolved. Congestion and hazardous traffic, lack of public transports (almost car dependent), poor pedestrian facilities as well as major concerns relating to environmental issues and sustainability are still evident in Dubai today. [2]

And despite the attempt to tackle the water issue through large treatment facilities, groundwater monitoring systems and more, these solutions still face hurdles.

Dubai needs to take care of some of the intangible environmental and human issues. Hundreds of skyscrapers are built where environmental standards being rarely applied. [3] So what would happen to the future of Dubai? While global warming is still a serious threat to the people and to the environment, a lifestyle that is dependent on the consumption of fossil fuels may not be maintained. This would mean that Dubai’s coastal and low-lying land would be at a high risk from flooding due to the rise of sea levels.



[1] Impossible Places – A Sustainable Future for Dubai?, 2013, <>, viewed on 19 October 2013

[2] Dubai Faces Environmental Problems After Growth, written by Liz Alderman, 27 October 2010, The New York times; Business Day – Energy and Environment,, viewed on 19 October 2013

[3] Developing Dubai, – Resource for Urban Development International, published 1997-2013, <>, viewed on 19 October 2013



Garbage piled up on a sewage plant property in Dubai. Sewage treatment operations have struggled to keep up with coming development, Lee Hoagland for the International Hearald Tribune, October 2010,, viewed on 22 October 2013

Bumper to bumper traffic on Al Ittihad Road which is used mostly by motorists commuting between Dubai and Sharjah. The number of vehicles plying on to Dubai roads has increased to some 1.4 million. Oliver Clarke/Gulf News, September 2010, <>, viewed on 2013

Bringing Forward Social Issues Through Design

Not all social issues are brought up in the media or in public. Design can bring light onto people, which in turn raise awareness to the public and therefore may solve the issues.

India is a country with rich resources and biodiversity. Social and economic inequalities have existed in India since the ancient past and are still continuing today in different levels. There is the rural and urban divide in India. While cities are developing fast in all parameter and have become a hub of trade, hospitality industry, education, tourism and private companies offering opportunities for employment, villages are still lacking in these areas. This is also reflected upon the people of India. In terms of gender inequality, women are not given the same level of status to men. Although there are laws that prohibits the discrimination against women, exploitation, harassment and molestation still continues. So why haven’t these issues been met or resolved?

Bringing up an issue and resolving it is not as simple as it looks. Through designs, designers have the ability to raise their voice and put forward their message which not only showcases their work but also help the one’s in need. Archana Kumari is a folk artist from Buhar who works in the fashion and textile industry, more specifically Sujuni. Sujuni is a term known for its straight stitch embroidery over layered cotton and silk fabric. For Kumari, each sujuni pieces carries a story of “the trauma of being a woman in a man’s work, domestic violence, female infanticide, effects of alcoholism and gambling on a family and similar issues.” [1] The delicacy and intricacy of the embroidery highlight and expresses the difficulties of rural women and creates a visual representation of peace. This further creates awareness a­­nd brings the issue forward in hope to grab the public and media’s attention. image1

The act of drawing or painting portraits on walls in India is very common. Walls are commonly reserved for images of politicians, actors and other figures with some high levels of authority. But when artist Daniel Connell takes over a wall and paints three large faces of local people of India, drawing attention to not only India but also all across the world. Connell’s mural extends the same level of dignity and respect to locals. His pubic artwork that appeared in Fort Kochi involves portraits of local citizens of India such as Achu’s teashop employee.SONY DSC

Art and design are powerful tools that can bring forward an issue or a message in hope to gather people’s support and therefore tackle the problem.


[1] Artist Statement: Archana Kumari, written by House, July 2013, Sangam, published in 2012, <>, viewed on 19 October 2013

[2] Artists Take the Ethical Path Between Autralia and India, written by House, May 2013, Sangam, published in 2012, <> viewed on 19 2013


Admin, December 2012, Kochi Muziris Biennale of Contemporary, sourced at Daniel Connell – Australian Visual Artist, <>, viewed on 22 October 2013

Archana Kumari embroidery, Artist StatesmentL Archana Kumari, Sangam, July 2013, <> viewed on 22 October 2013 ­­­

Designing with Users

Participatory design and designing from the basis of cultural knowledge and understandings is necessary in a design research in order for it to work. Participatory design is the shift in attitude from designing for users to designing with users. It is not only a method or set of methodologies but a mindset and an attitude about people. Furthermore, it is the belief that people have something to offer to the design process.

India, a land of transposed design, boasts a rich tapestry of architecture and design history. For most developing nations, progress may mean taking designs from the developed nations and applying it to new designs. After India gained independence in 1947, the country tried to catch up with the rest of the world. And the quickest way to do so was to introduce and incorporate and exchange development into India. This resulted in both success and failure in the engagement of social and cultural context.

There are many design strategies or design solutions that aim to tackle health issues within the more developed regions. Many rural areas like parts of India are not connected to the electric grid in which modern washing machines are no use for the local citizens there. To address the problems of people living in the rural regions where laundry washing can be a difficult task due to the weight load of laundry, Alex Cabunoc and Ji A You have produced a foot pedal powered laundry washer the GiraDora. [2] It is claimed that the product reduces health risks such as joint problems, skin irritation. Mold inhalation and lower back pain all associated with hand laundry washing. foot-powered-washer-and-spin-dryer-5


A design solution does not necessarily work however if there is a lack of understanding or the target audience is not involved throughout a design process. Transposed development and thoughts on a product design may lead to a design that is simply cut and pasted into a new environment where considerations of context, social or cultural aspects are not taken into account. Indian design consultancy D-Design for example, had been given approval by NGO HealthWorks to develop a commercial market for water filters among Indians living in poverty. Initially, the lead designer imagined India’s living conditions as being fairly poor, getting water from the dirty river, often ill from water-borne illness and without a filter. Design researchers however found villages where people seemed relatively happy and even content of their water. So where was the poverty? The break in communication between designers and the users of what is being designed (or user centric focused design) evident in this case proves to designers how vital it is to maintain a level of connection, communication and understanding of their target audience. [1] The Post-Colonial Computing paper emphasises the fact that not all exchange in design and technology between two parties always go to plan.

The failure to engage with particular culture and tradition and the user themselves may potentially result in an unsuccessful design.


[1] The Problem of Development, p1314, Postcolonial Computing: A Lens on Design and Development, ACM, 2010, Lilly I., Janer V., Paul D., Kavita P., Rebecca E.G., April 2010, viewed on 19 October 2013

[2] GiraDora – Human-Powered Washer and Spin Dryer, written by Alex Cabunoc, July 2012, Art Center College of Design, 2013, <> viewed on 20 October 2013


GiraDora|5, Foot-Powered Washer and Spin Dryer, Ecoficial, August 2012, <> viewed on 22 October 2013

Alex Cabunoc, GiraDora – human-powered washer and spin dryer, 2012, Behance, < >, viewed on 22 October 2013



3000BC: First human settlement. The land was inhabited by nomadic cattle herders.

2500BC: The growing of Date Palms. Land was being used for agricultural purposes.

18TH CENTURY: Iron Age in India

16TH CENTURY: European influence began with Portuguese interest in the area’s trade route Kingdom of Kochi is taken over by the Portuguese creating the first European settlement in India

EARLY 20TH CENTURY: Overseas and domestic trade flourished

7TH CENTURY: Dubai land was sustained by fishing and pearl diving. This opened up trade routes to India, Iran, Pakistan and China.

1926: The invention of artificial pearls.

1929: The Great Depression had impact on the International pearl market. From this, Dubai became one of the leading re-export ports in the world.

1965: The discovery of oil.

TODAY: Dubai is known for its successful building projects such as the Buj Al Arab, the Palm Islands and the World Islands.


The Dubai Design District

Dubai Design District will be located adjacent to the Business Bay area of Dubai. It is expected to become a full service commercial hub for design industry-related organizations, brands and supporting enterprises within the value chain. This project aims to further develop/build Dubai’s reputation as a global tourism and retail hub. “It will feature a custom-built creative community that will encompass purpose-built commercial and retail facilities for established and emerging designers, design institutes, waterfront promenade, convention center and event venues and related academic institutions,” the statement added. The district will be managed by TECOM investments, a member of Dubai Holding.


The Water Discus Hotel

What may potentially become the worlds largest underwater hotel, the Water Discus hotel is expected to emerge off the emirate’s coast in the next 5 years. This hotel is designed by Polish company Deep Ocean Technology and is being developed by Swiss firm BIG InvestConsult.


The Atlantic Dubai

The Atlantis Dubai, a $1.5 billion dollar resort and water theme park located in Dubai Jumeriah Palm. Opened in 2008, the resort captures towering arches, arabesque domes and ornate spires. Having 23 floors, the resort comproses 1500 guestrooms and suites. The Atlantis was constructed multinational construction company Laing O’Rourke which operates across around the globe including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and in the Middle East. Its projects range from architecture, transport, power, utilities and waste, oil and gas, and mining and natural resources.


The Majlis Gallery

Since the establishment of The Majlis Gallery, its vision then and now is to support Dubai artists in their exploration and interpretation of the Middle East into visual forms. This gallery consists of a collection of 3D objects along with fine art and furnitures. Over the years, the gallery has hosted many “exhibitions, seminars and cultural events and formed a model for the  study that ultimately led to the restoration of all the remaining buildings in Al Bastakiya, a historical district in Dubai.

Drilled-glass-and-copper-plate-by-Johnathan-Andersson Organic-bronze-table-base-by-Mustafa-Ali

Visual 1: Johnathan Andersson, drilled glass and copper plate

Visual 2: Mustafa Ali, organic bronze table base



Business in Dubai | Discover Dubai | Destinations | Emirates Australia . 2013. Business in Dubai | Discover Dubai | Destinations | Emirates Australia, <;, 8 September 2013

Dubai Facts, Facts about Dubai, 2013, Dubai Facts, Facts about Dubai, <;, 10 September 2013

Dubai culture and tradition | About Dubai | Discover Dubai | Emirates Australia . 2013. Dubai culture and tradition | About Dubai | Discover Dubai | Emirates Australia , <;, 9 September 2013

Dubai history | About Dubai | Discover Dubai | Emirates Australia, 2013, Dubai history | About Dubai | Discover Dubai | Emirates Australia, <;, 9 September 2013

Formglas – The Atlantis Dubai Project, 2013, Formglas – The Atlantis Dubai Project, <;,9 September 2013




1500BC: The invasion of the Aryans (They inhabited the northern regions for about 700 years)

500BC: The invasion of the Persians.

Mid 1800’s: The construction of a railway line between Karachi and Punjab by the British engineers. Kilm-baked bricks were discovered along the path of the tracks.

1920s:  The Harappa city and Mohenjodaro city was discovered.

Fresh Paper

Designed by Indian-American Kavita Shukla, this product design aims to improve the lives of those living in a less developed region and also be effective to places where access to refrigerators is limited. This design help keep fresh food for a longer period. It is simple, low-tech and very affordable for buyers. The designer herself looked into this design concept when she came across an old remedy after accidentally drinking dirty tap water  in India.


INDEX-Award-2013-Fenugreen-FreshPaper-Crate-537x357 FreshPaper12.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scale

The DC Imperator SUV

Dilip Chhabria, an Indian automobile designer and founder of DC Design. In 2006, he announced DCStar, a combination/collaboration of Eximstar and Dilip Chhabria Design Pvt Ltd. The company, located in India, customizes automotive vehicles to suit customers’ requirements. The DC Imperator SUV is an off-roader vehicle that draws its attention through its curvaceous and sensual form as oppose to a typical SUV. It comes with an AV entertainment centre and indicual displays for every seat.The car takes inspiration from the Ferrari Enzo.


The Katran collection 

Sarthak Sahil Design Co, founded in 2009 by two designers Sahil Bagga and Sarthak Sengupta, combines the use of Indian craftsmanship and materials to add life in contemporary spaces. The Katran Collection weaves ethics, ethnicity and ecology with contemporary culture together. These furniture pieces consists of left over colorful cloth pieces that is then spun into ropes and sold for the purpose of weaving traditional day beds. They are handmade and brought to life by the interactions between various actors in the system.


Tron watch

Industrial Designer Abhinac Sapke came up with a concept for a watch that is inspired by science fiction film Tron: Legacy. Tron environment, products and costumes on the film set was all taken into account.


The Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Daniel Connell’s public art for the Kochi Biennale made worldwide headllines when it opened in 2012. Cornell’s experience in India resulted him staying there for a number of years. The act of drawing or painting portraits on walls in India is very common. Walls are commonly reserved for images of politicians, actors and other figures with some high levels of authority. Daniel Connell’s mural extends the same level of dignity and respect to locals such as Achu’s tea shop employees and other local residents.



Amazing Facts about India, 2013., Amazing Facts about India, <;, 10 September 2013

Daniel Connell | Australian Visual Artist, 2013, Daniel Connell | Australian Visual Artist, <;, 9 September 2013

DC Design – Concepts – DC Imperator, 2013,  DC Design – Concepts – DC Imperator . [ONLINE] Available at:, 12 September 2013

Indian Cars Bikes, Indian Cars Bikes -, <’s+somewhat+palatable+Imperator+SUV+Concept+showcased+at+the+2010+Indian+Auto+Expo&gt; 12 September 2013

Our sectors and businesses – Laing O’Rourke Annual Review 2010, 2013, Our sectors and businesses – Laing O’Rourke Annual Review 2010 , <;, 10 September 2013

TRON Watch Concept | GeekAlerts, TRON Watch Concept | GeekAlerts, <;, 10 September 2013

Sangam and White Paper

Both Sangam’s Submission to the Australia in the Asian Century Paper and White Paper’s Australia in the Asian Century look into the importance of creating relationships and connections with Asia. The author of the Sangam article adds emphasis towards the idea of “trust” and how it is important for Australia to show some recognition and acknowledgement towards other crafts such as the arts and crafts in India.

Australia in the Asian Century, on the other hand, was commissioned to consider economic and strategic changes in Australia and what more can be done to position our country for the Asian Century. It lists a number of objectives that includes the economic, social opportunities and challenges of the Asian Century for Australia as well the need to deepen our understanding and engagement with Asia across the board (in the economy, culture, science and technology collaboration etc.)

The Influence of Bamboo

Growing in tribes, bamboo is used for many things from food, architecture and furniture design. This plant has impacted across Asian cultures where in China it is one of the “four gentlemen”, in Japan it occasionally protects a shinto shrine from evil and in Vietnam it symbolises the spirit of the Vietnamese martial art form also known as Vovinam. The material itself is known to have the strength of hardwood and the sustainability of grass. Today, bamboo is being utilised in all walks of life such as dinnerware sets as well as clothing!

  • 16-17h Century BC: Bows and arrows, and other household items were made using bamboo
  • 140 BC/134BC and 118BC: Ancient writing tablets (Yinqushan Han Slips) were discovered in burial tombs
  • 1486 AD: Bamboo charcoal was created
  • Today: The shoots, stems and leaves of bamboos make up some animals’ diets such as pandas; Bamboo shoots can also be used in Asian cuisines; It can also be turned into material/fabric

Eco Washing Ball

Eco Washing Ball is a user-friendly portable washing machine used in a kitchen environment. The balls contain a sensor that reacts to distances with any food and dishes, removing any hazardous germs or pesticides when detected. Electrolysis technology is used within this design which performs the disintegration of water molecules and generation of hydrogen thus attacks the cell membrane of germs and removes dirt. Yeonjin Jo’s Eco Washing Ball is a compact and modern designed product that can be used in any sized washing basin or sink.