Momafezi – Lonavala for Wood

credit: Monifa

credit: Monifa

credit: Monifa

credit: Monifa

credit: Monifa

credit: Monifa

We were unable to get woodblocks in Pune the day before, so Wednesday we went in the morning to Lonavala’s lumberyard to find something suitable. In the second store we were successful, as they could cut the pieces down to what size we wanted and had a wide selection of branches rather than just planks. We selected a Banyan Tree which was still slightly moist, which apparently makes it easier to carve. The bandsaw was really old but really interesting. It had a huge blade which they put inside and it had a large old wheel.  We then sanded and carved the designs and tested them. For our larger prints we used the screen print.


Bollywood Movie Night – Dabangg with Salman Khan

On Tuesday night, students took a break from working on their projects to watch a popular Bollywood movie, Dabangg, starring heartthrob and campy action hero, Salman Khan as a “rowdy, mischievous, and sometimes crooked cop” ( We loved the over-the-top fight scenes and the great dance numbers.

Our group’s favourite scene from Dabangg – the “Incredible Hulk” meets “Old Spice guy”…

Design and then BUILD – the students bring their ideas to life at KESBO

The students started to implement the results of their participatory design process at the KESBO site. The day started with a meeting with a local welder, who will build the climbing structure from the students’ design.

With help from the boys, the group got a great deal accomplished. By the end of the day, the swingsets, which had previously sat unused were cemented permanently in the ground, the holes for the tire obstacle course were completed, paint and other supplies were purchased and delivered to the site, and the construction of the climbing structure was almost complete.

An electrical short caused a delay in the welding for the day. Luckily, the ISAC staff’s extensive network of connections allowed them to bring in a skilled electrician to fix the problem. The electrician generously donated his time to KESBO when he learned it was an orphanage.

Students show design to the local welder.

Iron poles the students bought from the scrapyard and had delivered to KESBO.

Students and the boys move raw materials in place to begin fabrication.

Fabricator welds the climbing structure designed by the students.

The climbing structure begins to take shape.

Vanessa prepares a hole for the swingset.

The boys use the wheelbarrow to transport gravel to mix concrete for the swingsets.

Vanessa works with Muneer to mix concrete for setting the swingsets permanently in place.

Swingsets are set in place with concrete and ready for painting tomorrow.

Kylie digs a hole to place the tires for the obstacle course.

Sarah, Anna, and Vanessa set tires in place for an obstacle course.

Mike and Vanessa high five with Muneer and Muhammad after a long days work.

Mommafezi’s Trip to Pune for Supplies

Today we went to Pune to find material which would work to block print a sari. It ended up being a hectic day, as many stores didn’t have what we needed thus sending us on a wild goose chase to multiple stores. To add another obstacle, many roads were shut and the streets were filled as it was the first day of a festival for the God Ganesh as well as an opening of a new temple. Though this slowed us down a bit, it was amazing to be able to witness seeing the status, which usually is only seen behind doors of a temples, to be paraded down the street with drums and dancers to its new home.

This store was stocked with craft and sewing supplies, where we were able to buy fabric paint. This was the only picture I could sneak in, as they refused any pictures being taken. They were extremely grumpy. But the selection and price of extremely ornate ribbons was so exciting! We were of course sent on a wild goose chase around Pune to find block printing blocks and never was able to find them. But we managed to get back up material processes, screen printing supplies.

“Getting down to brass tacks” – setting a project budget and sourcing materials

By the end of the day on Monday, students from both groups were tasked with finalizing their designs and then determining the supplies and resources needed to complete their proposed projects by Friday.

The Sadhana group prepared their final designs to share with Savita. They then traveled on the train to Lonavala to look for materials needed to create a woodblock and for sari and kurta fabric on which to print their design.

Sadhana group's designs

Sadhana group's esimated budget for finishing the project.

The KESBO group simplified their design and worked with ISAC to find a welder who could fabricate a climbing structure for their proposed playspace. They traveled with Farooq, ISAC staff, to a metal scrapyard in nearby Kamshet where they were able to buy the iron needed and have it delivered to the KESBO site.

Students' revised design for a climbing structure at KESBO.

Site plan for the new playspace at KESBO.

KESBO group's budget estimates for completing the playspace.

Plans into Action

We came to India a little over two weeks ago, and are now embarking on the ‘plans into action phase’ of the design process.  A week into the course I had strong doubts about the likelihood of finishing and implementing a co-design project of this scale in two weeks. From our previous studies at ocad U the students on this trip realized the significance of breaking the barrier between designer and user. Many of us have theorized this process in other classes, but never has the term “co-design” meant so much. With only four days left till the groups fly home and part ways, I am bemused by what we have accomplished in so little time. Though seemingly small or simplistic, when I think about the magnitude of a well-designed logo or the effects of a play space on developing children the outcome of what we’ve worked towards could be more then any of us imagined.

While working with the communities we’ve experienced our share of setbacks and cultural differences, but despite these obstacles we tried our best to keep the organizations involved. Going forward these last few days, there are sure to be unforeseen complications and pending questions. Even with the small amount of time we have spent with KESBO and Sadhana I have little doubt that the impact of our projects will affect everyone involved.

Japur and Delhi

With all the hectic activities this weekend in Japur and Delhi from riding elephants, a crazy bus driver, wrong hotels, amazing dancers with a billion pots on her head, good food, weird tour guides, people trying to rip us off, interesting airline names, lots of shopping and almost missing the one and only thing we wanted to see: the Taj Mahal we were still able to have a great time and with a “cherry on top”, got to meet Jon Hamm.

Weekend in Jaipur Agra and Dehli

Following our second week in India, we took flight to Jaipur and visited the Amber Fort. We enjoyed elephant rides to the top of the hill where the building rested. Like any ancient architecture there is meticulous detail to every aspect of the red sandstone fort which was also garnished with marble. Following that we took a 3 hours bus ride as we rushed across Rajasthan to get to the Taj Mahal in Agra. It felt all to surreal to me standing infront of such a significant monument, it is recognized anywhere in the world almost immediately  So to stand infront of the building and walk aside it was spectacular.  As a added bonus we also seen John Ham, Donald Draper from Mad Men, which was an added bonus. We were there at dusk so unfortunately the blue sky’s of India were washed out but I really had hoped to capture a picture with the moon behind the building as if they were both two giant white marble moments in tandem. However it closes at 7, so we were herded out like sheep; Nevertheless a breathtaking marvel.

OCAD U Visits Design Abroad: India course in the field

On Thursday, we were visited by OCAD University Vice Preseident of Academics Dr. Christine Bovis-Cnossen and Dean of the Faculty of Design Dr. Gayle Nicoll, two champions of this pilot Design Abroad: India course. In the morning, Christine and Gayle visited the students working with KESBO. They observed as the students shared the next iteration of their playspace design with KESBO founder, Mr. Ali. They toured the KESBO campus, and the students showed Christine and Gayle the site of the proposed new playspace, which will include a climbing structure, swing sets, and a tire obstacle course. A game the students taught the boys at KESBO as a group activity and way to transcend language and culture barriers is “stella ella ola.” Christine joined in this large, joyous circle game that included all of the boys and the students.

OCAD U VPA Dr. Christine Bovis-Cnossen and Dean of the Faculty of Design Dr. Gayle Nicoll observe as students present their design sketches for a proposed playspace to Mr. Ali, founder of KESBO, school and orphanage for boys.

The students' concept sketches for the new playspace.

Arielle Bourret-Klein, Mike Lewis, Anna Kolesnikova, VPA Dr. Christine Bovis-Cnossen, Kylie Thompson, and Vanessa Hausman tour the KESBO grounds together.

Christine and the students form a large circle with the boys from KESBO for a game of "Stella ella ola."

In the afternoon, the OCAD U VPA and Dean visited the student group working with Sadhana. They met the founder, Ms. Savita Jadhav, and then toured the nearby cantonment area. They observed the students meeting with various members of the community as they asked for feedback about different symbols representing Sadhana and its work in the cantonment areas. The symbols stemmed from the participatory design sessions conducted earlier in the week with the community and staff members of Sadhana. Based on this stage of the process, the students will further develop other iterations of the symbol as they work to finalize a strong visual representation of Sadhana and its mission.

Students survey cantonment area residents to get their feedback about different symbols representing Sadhana and its work in the community.

Design Abroad: India instructor Sarah Tranum, Felipe Sarmiento, Zimeng Lu, VPA Dr. Christine Bovis-Cnossen, Maya das Gupta, Dean of Faculty of Design Dr. Gayle Nicoll, and Monfia Charles in the cantonment area near Dehu Road, Maharastra, India.

Participatory Design in action with KESBO

The KESBO design team worked from their research and interviews to determine a direction for their design project. They found that the creation of a designated play space is a needed and wanted addition to the KESBO campus. While the boys who live at KESBO play in the open space between the main building and dining hall there is no designated space that encourages interaction, especially between boys of different ages and abilities. This led to preliminary ideas and sketches of potential built structures that could encourage creative play across age groups and athletic ability.

They brought these sketches to show Mr. Ali and the boys. Through discussions, further questions, voting, and sketching on the part of the boys, the team was able to find a clear direction for their design proposal. The next step is further refinement of the concept incorporating the boy’s drawings, comments, and Mr. Ali’s feedback and discussion of available materials and resources.

The team shows preliminary sketches for play structure designs to Mr. Ali.

Aftab, ISAC staff, helps the students delineate the site of a designated playspace on the KESBO campus using lime powder and string.

Arielle shows the boys the different ideas for play structures at the site of the new playspace.

Each boy voted for his favourite design by placing a stone on the corresponding sketch.

The boys voted twice: first, en masse, and second with a secret stone ballot with each boy choosing his favourite design without the other boys seeing his vote. Both votes were tallied to determine the most popular design.

The team then asked the boys to draw other ideas they have for the playspace. Several drew a cricket field; Aftab and the boys explained the basics of the game to Vanessa.

Bollywood Dance Lessons!

Raksha, ISAC Program Coordinator and Bollywood dancer extraordinaire, taught us the moves to a popular Bollywood movie song. We danced, sweated, laughed, and perfected our routine…next step Mumbai Bollywood Studios!

Raksha shows us a sample of one of the popular Bollywood dance moves.

Raksha leads us in dance - she is a great dancer and teacher!