Promoting design-thinking in the developing world

The Challenge

Major decisions concerning the planning and design of cities are typically made by the people in power: politicians, policy makers, urban planners, and real estate developers. This is particularly true in the rapidly growing cities of the developing world, where local residents seldom have much say in how their city is being built or restructured, and their voices often go unheard when decisions are being made concerning services like healthcare, education, and transportation. We wanted to explore the implications of this problematic situation and to take a look at the various ways it is being addressed by designers and technologists.

The Solution

We created Designwala, a website that showcases design-driven projects in the developing world, with a focus on India. To accompany the website we also produced a Designwala video series, featuring interviews with an interdisciplinary group of thought leaders. The series addressed topics such as technology-driven design and the impact of culture on design, and culminated in the formation of a panel. The three panelists, Lina Srivastava, Jyoti Hosagrahar, and John Gerarci, came from the diverse fields of strategy, design, and technology respectively, and each brought a different perspective to the discussion. Topics addressed by the panel included identifying ways in which local residents can gain access to the decision makers, and discussing alternate trajectories of growth and development beyond those accepted in the developed world.

Partnerships & Community

The Designwala website has a number of regular contributors, including Ria Rajan, Radhika Ganorkar, Maitreyi Doshi-Joshi, and Sajan Rajagopal.


Strategic Overview, Concept Design


April 2010 / ongoing


Jyoti Hosagrahar : Indigenous Modernities

Simrit Brar : Designers as Changemakers

Lina Srivastava : TheĀ ‘Indovators’

Sonali Sridhar : The DIY’ers