De:colonising de:sign is a project that started off with an interest in alternative design pedagogy that deviated from the western euro-centric perspective. It evolved into a larger discussion on epistemological practice. The focus shifted onto bringing value in alternative design knowledge systems as well as examining the role of power, privilege and wealth in a design education system. This is an ongoing project that finds different methods and approaches to introduce decentralizing insitutional practices.



Nida Abdullah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Undergraduate Communications at Pratt Institute. Prior to her appointment at Pratt, she was an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University and Lecturer of Graphic Design at Georgia State University. Her research interests focus on the conditions and circumstance for designing, as well as deconstructing and disrupting hierarchical and hegemonic modes of production.

She collaborates with Professor Denise Gonzales Crisp of North Carolina State University on decentralizing problem-solving approaches in design

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“Maybe there is one [workshop] which you can truly do locally that you can document, whatever you call it, workshop, etc. That is removed from technology, that is at home with family. That is comparative. It is the village. It is the people you invite to your own university. Who are you reaching out to? What are the value systems at play versus like your sister, brother, family? How do we make judgments on who practices design or cultural production, or whatever you want to call it. Who has the authority to do that?”

“How is a curriculum developed then?  and who has the authority to develop it? Another thing I have been thinking about is what is a pedagogy? In the western world, pedagogy or learning is institutionalized–– we have to do it in this enclosed space, I'm speaking to you because that is the pedagogy, whereas, in a lot of non-western space, or radical pedagogy, it's the pedagogy of every day, you learn all the time, there is a pedagogy in this cup, for example...everything is a learning experience and that is what I think is in the core of this village approach.”


Kumkum brings with her over 20 years of multinational experience as a design professional, and 10 years of teaching experience in India and Canada.

Her work spans from being freelance graphic designer in USA, to in-house graphic design for Philips International in The Netherlands, to setting up and running two design practices: Leubin Design (1990–1999), and presently Kena Design in Bangalore.

Kumkum’s continued interest in design education has resulted in her taking on additional responsibility as the senior faculty and program head of Visual Communication Design at Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology, Bangalore.

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“If you ask an urban kid to draw water, what will he or she do? She will take a blue crayon and draw waves/droplet, this is how popularly, majorly they will always draw water like this. If you ask a village kid to draw water, do you know how he or she drew it? They took a black crayon and drew a black circle and draw a circle. They drew a well because they look at water in a well.  These wells are deep and the water looks black it doesn't look blue, there is no running water or lake.

The western way of design principles, do not take into account these people, we need to look at our own surroundings, our own traditions.”

"Decolonization has become a buzz word right now, and it's a good thing that people are thinking, talking about it. But I've seen some people taking it to an extreme and saying that whatever we have learned in design is all westernized in the dustbin. And in, my opinion that is not a realistic way to approach this whole idea of decolonization. There are various ways for defining colonization, like some of my students are looking at colonization of the mind, how we are always looking at the west in thoughts, design, process, studies, approach and that is the thought process we are encouraging.”