Saili Palyekar and Nitish Chopra (Cumulus Student Ambassadors) reporting from Bengaluru and Paris

‘Together, To get there, the theme of the conference truly spoke about how design is a collaborative process and only when we work together and for one another will we be able move a step forward in the world of design. ‘ Saili Palyekar

‘I do feel a bit alleviated, if not enlightened, that there does exist a future, a green one – a safe one – that we can strive for, in collaboration, because there are people who pursue similar aims and in unity we can find some might.’ Nitish Chopra

Two great student ambassadors from the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology: Saili Palyekar and Nitish Chopra took part in two consecutive conferences of Cumulus in November 2017 in Bengaluru, India and in April 2018 in Paris, France within the Cumulus Student Ambassador program.

Learn more about Saili and Nitish.

Welcome to read their reports.
Check also the Cumulus Student Ambassadors FB for great videos and footage https://www.facebook.com/Cumulus-Ambassadors-527204344105153/

Saili Palyekar

Cumulus in Bengaluru (Letters to the Future by Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, India)

The November of 2017 saw a drastic change in events with the cumulus conference coming in. The JN TATA auditorium was decked up to host cumulus guests from all over the world and faculty along with student volunteers sprawled across the space to make it a warm welcome. Srishti institute of art design and technology hosted the Cumulus conference 2018 and commenced it on a cultural note with the lighting of the lamp, music and dance performances. Keynote speakers like Ezio brought in their takes on the possibility of design in the future that helped us shape our own letters to the future. Personally, I was extremely moved by Mr. Sonam Wanghcuk’s talk. He gave the audience an insight into Secmol – a school that prioritizes girl’s education and education for the future in a vast solar powered and solar heated campus. The studio and industry visit to Himatsinghka left us in awe as the huge machinery, dyes, patterns and most importantly the creative minds behind these was immensely inspiring. All in all the Cumulus Conference, Bengaluru gave me an open door into the minds of these inspiring thinkers and their creative ideologies for the future of design and prepared me for the oncoming conference in Paris 2018.

Cumulus in Paris (To get there: designing together by CESAAP, France)

Enthralling, engaging and absolutely exhilarating might just be an understatement for three days of a power pact design conference. Ecole Boulle, Estienne, Duperee and Ensaama hosted The International Cumulus Conference, Paris 2018 bringing together designers, artists, thinkers, teachers and learners from across the globe. Together, To get there, the theme of the conference truly spoke about how design is a collaborative process and only when we work together and for one another will we be able move a step forward in the world of design.

The conference reflected the energy of the four schools that collectively brought to us a successful event in an extremely organized fashion from the welcome coffee until the farewell gala. Amongst the various inspiring and eye opening talks by keynote speakers like Gilles Garel, Claire Brunet, Emmanuel Souchier, Anne Asensio and Celine Poisson, Nelly Ben Hayoun’s presentation stood out as her energy and story captured the attention of every attendee at the grand amphitheater in the Sorbonne University. The essence of ‘togetherness’ and inclusiveness was further witnessed at Ecole Estinenne, where communication design steals the spotlight, as Professor Emmanuel Souchier’s French talk was translated into the English language on a screen as well as accompanied by sign language on the side.

The panel discussions as well as individual conversations with experts on The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals gave us students an insight into how different design schools and organisations across the world are working towards achieving sustainability in the coming years by adding to the curriculum, introducing awards and aiming for a more sustainable learning environment. It was rather interesting to learn about the different school’s perspective on the SDG’s and how while they are regionally and culturally vastly different, the Sustainable Development Goals can bring these together and possibly think of a similar curriculum that interests all.

Apart from the organized talks, round tables and panel discussions, the student exhibits at the schools was something that definitely stood out. It allowed us a tour into the world of a conventional design school in Paris, the various courses offered, the studios as well as the work ethic, ideas and creations of the students there.
In the span of three days, the nuances in a crowd of over 200 together emerged victorious in sharing ideas, design solutions and collaborating for the benefit of all.

Nitish Chopra

Cumulus in Bengaluru (Letters to the Future by Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, India)

The opportunity to attend Cumulus in Bangalore has arose quite unexpectedly and spontaneously. I was lucky enough to respond and get shortlisted as the ambassador ensuring my attendance both in Cumulus Bangalore and Paris.

The Bangalore conference started on a high note with a brilliant opening ceremony from our
college students and outside performers. The inaugural keynote address by Shabnam Virmani
spoke on the theme of ‘Timelessness’. She, along with an eminent panel of art philosophers kick started the conference with a discourse on time perceptions and its impact on our activities. The discussion was quite an enlightening and soothing experience to an otherwise speculatory and consuming exercise as an exercise on talking about “future” could be.

The afternoon keynote was by Sonam Wangchuk. He talked about sustainable ideas of working
towards future and working with the community using albeit simple ideas applied intelligently to a local context. His own case study of his school of alternate education was a brilliant and eye opening example of how something like that could be done.
The evening was a little break from knowledge consumption as we visited the Himatsinghka Textile Studio’s vast unit spanning across acres of land, experiencing the full might of the textile industry that India is proud to boast about.

The second day was a chunk of parallel sessions on various topics as academia, technical and working group sessions. The highlight of the day was session by NID’s director Pradhyman Vyas on ‘India’s journey through Design’, shedding light on the path India has traced since ‘The India Report’ by Charles and Ray Eames in 1958.
Later in the evening we indulged in a solo dance performance titled ‘Body Mine’ by Shabari Rao, an experimental dance piece that challenged the notions mind and body.

The third day started with a keynote by designer Neelam Chhiber. She focussed on ideas of
employement through craft through the example of Industree, an initiative by her that aims to provide employement to lakhs of people engaged in traditional art and craft forms.
Prof Ezio Manzini, member of the Board of Advisors to Srishti, conducted the valedictory address summarised the entire conference in his talk and shared insights into how design can be used as a platform for the development of democratic values and ideals and a vehicle for generating lifebased pedagogies for learning.

Having said that, I have to agree, in the end I wasn’t entirely prepared to consume and make sense of all that valuable knowledge that was directed at me.But I do feel a bit alleviated, if not enlightened, that there does exist a future, a green one – a safe
one – that we can strive for, in collaboration, because there are people who pursue similar aims and in unity we can find some might.

Cumulus in Paris (To get there: designing together by CESAAP, France)

The excitement for the Paris conference had started months before the actual conference was to start. Cumulus couldn’t have possibly found a better host than the center of art in the world, Paris. The conference was a result of Cesaap’s (Ecole Boulle, Estienne, Duperee and Ensaama) collective efforts . The theme of the conference – ‘Together, To get there’ – explored the idea of design a collaborative process. The keynotes by Gilles Garel, Claire Brunet, Emmanuel Souchier, Anne Asensio and Celine Poisson, Nelly Ben Hayoun’s discoursed their personal interpretations and methods of collaboration. Professor Emmanuel Souchier’s note was itself a commentary on design communication, both in its content and its presentation – he read his note in french, it was translated into the English language on a screen and accompanied by sign language on the side.

We were also lucky to participate in Cumulus working groups around The UN’s 17 Sustainable
Development Goals and how Cumulus plans to carry out the Kyoto agreement undertaking to
cause real world impact. It was an insightful exercise in experience macro level vision and planning, being able to view the system from a bird’s eye view. Being design students from a different country, we were certainly excited to see the design trends and work in Paris. The various exhibitions within all schools helped us do precisely that. The students took us around, showing each and every exhibit and workshop, speaking to us in their best English even at the cost of sounding a little off at times, and doing their best to treat their guests nice. Truly, we couldn’t have asked for a warmer treatment.

And finally the conference closed with a grand party in the City Hall that moved to a ferry on the Seine experiencing the haunting sight of the Notre Dame beauty being reflected on the Seine from the banks.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM:
The Cumulus Student Ambassador Program is a special student award and merit-based initiative of the Cumulus International Association of Art, Design and Media that recognizes exceptional student leaders from the universities and institutions hosting the Cumulus Association Annual Conferences. Each year, Cumulus invites a total of four Student Ambassadors (two per annual conference) to contribute their singular voices to the Association’s Conferences and the Cumulus community overall.

Not a Member yet? Apply here!

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