A Year Later: Revisiting the Khoj Design Research Residency
A Year Later: Revisiting the Khoj Design Research Residency

The Khoj Design Research Residency, was designed as a response to a dearth of research in design academia in Pakistan. While the field of fine art has established research driven art practice, the field of design lags far behind. Faculty members of communication design departments of four universities took part in this initiative, which aimed to encourage a culture of practice-based research1 in design academia. A year later we revisit and reflect upon the experience.

Overview of the design landscape

The Communication Design landscape of Pakistan has developed primarily as a response to private capital. Though the government recognizes its importance and has used the discipline of communication design for multiple purposes, the most evident being public service messaging, there has been little or no thought given to the development of the field (Yusuf, 1919). One of the reasons described by Tarar2 (2008) has been the positioning of Design as a discipline during the colonial period. A demarcation between design and fine art education has existed, with graduates of design destined to serve the market, their degrees evaluated on market readiness. This has set the direction for the discipline, which has had its pluses and minuses. In terms of the creatives and personnel involved, the demarcation has meant a hierarchical downplay of artists involved in the pursuit of commercial arts and in terms of the recognition of their capacity and contribution to the intellectual and practical realm. Mr. Imran Mir’s contribution to the field of graphic design and advertising does not enjoy the kind of limelight his work as an artist does, as was evident at the posthumous exhibition held at the Mohatta Palace Museum titled Imran Mir: The Alchemist of Line, where his contributions to design were limited to a small display. His website does not display any of his graphic design work either. Other artists who also worked in ‘the big bad commercial world of advertising agencies’ included Shahid Sajjad, Maqsood Ali, Mansur Aye, Jameel Naqsh, Akram Spaul, and Bashir Mirza, who even ran his own advertising agency for some time (Siddiqui, 2017 Farrukh, 2023). Till date there is no regulatory body like a Design Council3 for all the varied fields which come under design i.e. Product Design, Graphic Design, Media Design, Advertising Design, Textile Design, Interior Design etc. Though there has been an expansion of the design discipline, there has been no attempt by the stakeholders, academia, government or industry to jointly set a direction for the future growth of the design discipline.

Communication Design academia in Pakistan is thus a response to the design landscape which till now has demonstrated a highly commercial orientation. There are very few Communication Design degrees being offered and those that exist have a heavy focus on advertising. Despite this, there is a wide gap between industry and design academia (Ansari, 2014, Hussain, 2023). Though the institutes are recognized and their degrees accepted by HEC (Higher Education Commission), the regulatory body for education in Pakistan, the nuances of curriculum have neither been examined closely or directed by any vision or direction from the HEC till now. And neither is this concern for a wider recognition of the application of design new, nor is it native to Pakistan.  South Asian scholars, Balaram4 (1998) and Tarar (2008) call for both rethinking the role of design and support a more active relationship between State, industry and design.

“If by development we mean improvement in people’s quality of life then design certainly has a major and crucial role to play particularly in the developing countries. In planned economies policy level decisions by the government hold the key to successful and gainful operation of design. Policies may not be everything but they are the main facilitators.” (Balaram, 1998 Pg.63)

And then:

“Perhaps it is only a resurgence of the Bauhaus spirit at the NCA that can bring traditional crafts and fine arts together with industry to strengthen the economy and rejuvenate national culture.” (Tarrar 2008 pg. 339)

A recurring concern, and one is amplifying, is the west-centric curriculum being taught in the various degree awarding institutes. Ansari (2017) calls this “a consistent colonizing socio-cultural project” carried out through the Eurocentric production and dissemination of knowledge carried out via educational bodies along with global media and technology industries. Using Anibal Quijano (1991), Ansari further explains the ways in which this is evidenced: via the establishment of a hierarchy whereby western knowledge systems are deemed superior; traditional and indigenous knowledge is intentionally suppressed; “patriarchy, rationality and consumption etc. were introduced to cultures that were organized around very different lines,” (Ansari, 2017, pg. 209).

Another residual phenomenon from the early days of design education is the perception of art and design degrees as technical degrees, which are structured to prepare students for serving the existing industries and production lines, rather than being oriented towards theoretical development or systemic innovation (Tarrar,2008, Ansari 2014). The internship model prevalent in the advertising industry in the previous years enabled interested individuals to learn the ropes on the job (Rizwan 2019, Yusuf, 2019) without the need for a degree.

However, with the advent of degrees in communication design and their consequent regulation by HEC there has now risen a need to look at the practices of design academia and evaluate its role in content generation and its contribution to knowledge. This has been spearheaded in part by the changes wrought by the advent of digital technologies which have changed the way communication business is conducted. Multiple avenues for application and expansion have come up and are now driving fields like Interaction Design, Human-centered Design, and Service Design. Education and curriculums are also playing catchup, with educationists excited to explore possibilities in creative practice and interpretation of design and its application in a more diverse and expanded form.

Residency – Our purpose

Recognizing this excitement and willingness in the design academia, the department of Communication Design, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, decided to introduce a residency for practice-based research in communication design. Residencies are valued as enabling artists to “reflect, conduct research and investigate new works or means of production” (Lehman 2017, pg.9). They can be offered via multiple players or stakeholders, individuals or trusts, corporates or State. This was a first in Design academia locally, though quite established in the field of fine art.

Through the residency we aimed to facilitate design practice not falling under the remit of market-led practice. While the market is the destination of design practice, the tendency to allow the market to lead curriculum, structures and pedagogy is problematic, leading to marginalization of discourse around socio-cultural relevance, ecology, sustainability, ethics, etc. while also excluding other areas of design interest or practice the faculty might have. Khoj focused on faculty who had an orientation towards research-based design practice enabling them to bring their projects and interests to fruition. Proposals were invited under the themes of ecology and sustainability, materiality and making, historical and contemporary design practices/interdisciplinary practice and design/ed pedagogies. We hoped the outcome would be able to provide stimulus to expanding conceptions of design research and its application and creating a better profile for the local design academia in national and international design domains.

Walter Mignolo as quoted by Ansari (2017) has suggested some decolonization strategies which informed our direction. Mignolo argues that “the limit of the Western Philosophy is the border where the colonial difference emerges”, bringing to light the multiple types of local histories that the west has obscured. He calls for additional study of alternative philosophies and “ways of thinking and being” while keeping in mind the tension which will emerge from the two, owing to the difference in their historical development and location. Therefore, decolonization can be addressed in the following ways: by expanding our way of interpretation and conceptualizing “local future in global landscapes” building upon local history and acknowledging difference in both context and environment. And by relooking at prevailing models of economic and socio-political structures and cultural production, making space for alternatives. Ansari connects this to the domain of design by adding “the material and designed and built environment” to this equation (2017). Quoting Dilnot, Ansari (2017) argues that it is the designers’ actions in the world, the artefacts they produce, which manifest and maintain power hierarchies in this world by allowing or restricting agency of the body, in obscuring or bringing to light “aspects of earthly existence” and in “proscribing and excluding meaning.”

Projects and areas of investigation

The journey through the residency has been interesting and revealing. On a surface level, the response and outcome of the residency show the eagerness of the design faculty to engage with practice-based research while also bringing to light a diversity in interests and practices. On a systemic level, the process reveals weaknesses in the understanding of practice-based research and the struggle of setting a direction for faculty’s practice that can be truly responsive to their concerns: west-centrism in the design curricula, autonomy in setting directions for design education and developing a focus for future design applications that don’t just serve industry needs.

The experience also highlights other areas intrinsic to a critical design practice: a lack of design theory in the curriculum, and the requirement of English as the mode of communication in design academia, which not only hampers cognition, discourse, and expression but also limits designers and practitioners to available English resources. For the nascent field of design research this further limits the few voices from the South. And, finally, the renegotiation of the conception of the designer/creative working alone to create a masterpiece, which is still the self-perception of design students and practitioners, and therefore the dominant mode of design generation. However, in this residency, we saw a deviation from this mode of design generation as four out of the seven projects were collaborative in nature.

Tal – the bell’ was a project that sought to document and archive both the dying art of bell making in Cholistan and the sounds of the various bells. These bells are tied by the shepherds around the necks of their animals to track them as they free graze in the areas around. There are many reasons for the decline of the craft of bell making, including the partition of India and Pakistan, which decreased the demand for Tal due to the division of land. The fertilization of land in the desert has given rise to cultivation, thereby affecting free grazing for the herds. The quality of the bells has also deteriorated over time, as the bell-makers have left their traditional work in search of alternative work due to shrinking demand (Ansari & Faiz, 2022).

The project was undertaken by Ansari and Faiz, both faculty members at University College of Art and Design, Islamia University Bahawalpur. What the project achieved was a step-by-step photographic documentation of the various processes involved in the production of Tal (a large bell) tied around the neck of the lead animal. It also recorded sounds of various bells, including Tal. The researchers further refashioned and mixed together various bell sounds and suggested applications as ringtones, alarms, therapeutic sounds, etc. They hope that their project leads to a renewed interest in sound and the making of this fast-disappearing craft while opening up further vistas for application. However, during a subsequent presentation and discussion, Ansari and Faiz both acknowledged a conflict in their proposed application. Refashioning the sound of the Tal into these ringtones causes a rupture of the sound of the bell from its traditional form, obscuring both the artifact and the craftsman further.

Research projects in craft documentation need to engage equally with further interventions. In this project, the rupture of form and sound also changes the consumers from the herdsmen to the users of mobile phones, and in that, the relationship of the artifact and the consumer changes from a utilitarian and purposive relationship to an expanded relationship based on preference and choice. In this way, the mobile phone ringtones become an addition to the existing pool of artifacts for human consumption. What the project does achieve is a comprehensive documentation of the craft and sound of Tal while engagement with application remains cursory.

Tal- Bell - Addition of brightly colored clappers (2021) Farjad Faiz, digital image, Size: Variable

Another set of collaborators coming out of Bahawalpur were the trio of Hassan Qureshi, Reema Qadeer, and Qadir Baloch. Focusing on Bahawalpur Zoo as their area of focus, their project sought to educate visitors about the endangered species in the zoo, their habitat, and well-being while developing a User Interface for the website which employed visual iconography developed from the local motifs and patterns, in this case, camel shearing patterns. The Bahawalpur Zoo website was mostly an informational and navigational project, allowing visitors and non-visitors to gain information on the animals in the zoo. It featured a map of the zoo allowing visitors to navigate the zoo once there or allowing them to pre-plan their visit in relation to their own favorite animals. The icons of the animals were adapted from a previous signage project for the Bahawalpur Zoo done by the designers to create a sense of visual continuity between the virtual and actual space, while other User Interface (UI) elements such as buttons and borders have been specially developed, keeping in mind the aesthetic. The rationale for this project came from human learning, which is largely based on the interaction of people and their socio-cultural environment. “Website and modern-day technology are cultural means to make learning available to a larger audience that spans across people from various walks of life” (Qadeer, Qureshi, and Baloch, 2022).

The other project, a hyper-casual game, Zoo Escape, incorporated pedagogies of play to call attention to the Zoo and the human and animal interactions within it. It allowed players to role-play as animals wanting to escape from the Zoo, reiterating the idea that ‘cosmeticized’ environments such as Zoos are big contributors to the problem.

Both projects addressed the prevalent aesthetic of the digital world through proposing localized iconography. On another level, the projects were also proposals that attempted to test the waters on extending projects such as Zoos to create awareness about the environment and endangered species while making users think about their own role. Rather than focusing on zoos as merely recreational spaces for the public, they also expanded the conception of design from a problem-solution orientation, to a pragmatic approach that acknowledges existing systems while using them as take-off points for future alternatives, that acknowledge the human role in the existing conditions and crisis while sensitively suggesting interventions to mitigate the damage. What needs to be seen is whether projects like these, grounded in social concerns, remain stand-alone and fulfill an immediate concern or, as Ansari (2014) hopes, become a changing force in a community’s life?

Icons developed for website of Bahawalpur Zoo (2021) Hassan Qureshi, Reema Qadeer and Qadir Baloch, Digital Artefact, Size Variable (click on image for link)
Zoo Escape - 2D hyper casual game (2022,) Hassan Qureshi, Reema Qadeer and Qadir Baloch, Mobile App, Size: Variable (click on image for link)

Both projects, “Ae Shehr eTezgam” and “Sindhu,” were collaborations between faculty members and students. “Ae Shehr e Tezgam” was a project designed as an exploration of pedagogical practice in which students were allowed a free hand with regards to outcomes, medium, language, and design expression. Students undertook to investigate their own neighborhoods located within the city of Karachi and used the medium of video to tell the story.

Poster for the pedagogical journey of Ae Shehr-e-Tezgam 2022, M. Ali Khan, Print / Digital Artefact, Size: Variable (click on image for link)

While on the surface, the project appears to be similar to many existing mapping projects in the city of Karachi, what is particularly interesting in this project is the resulting dialogue between faculty member Mohammed Ali Khan and his students. It produced insights into socio-cultural gaps between faculty and students, the evolving tastes of the younger generation, and their sense of cultural identity. Khan recounted that he initially assumed that students from the Arts Council Institute of Art and Crafts, belonging to a lower demographic, would be more proficient in Urdu script. However, he realized that the practice of Roman writing was their preferred mode of communication with the mass audience of the bustling commercial hubs of Karachi and social media (Khan 2022). This challenges the perception that Romanized Urdu is primarily preferred by the elite in Karachi and recasts it as the favored mode of communication among the youth in urban cities like Karachi. For Khan, this raises questions about national identity and patriotism. For him the assumption that youth lack a sense of identity would be problematic, instead an investigation into how they identify and with what could be researched further. Another, insight was the projection of ‘postcolonial’ insecurities’ (or perhaps the insecurities of the educated elite) onto the students by enforcing conformity to existing rules related to the purpose of design activities. In our part of the world, design’s purpose is very much tied to identity and national identity. Therefore, it was a struggle for the researcher to refrain from critiquing the use of Romanized Urdu and the preference for Indian visual references when addressing issues like littering. Therefore, he calls for ‘Letting the youth do what has always come naturally to them, allowing them to find their own design solutions based on their generational comfort zones which are not ours’ (Khan 2022).

Poster for OOo bhai Dekh Kar campaign undertaken by students of ACIAC (2022), Project - Ae Shehr-e-Tezgam 2022, M. Ali Khan, Print / Digital Artefact, Size: Variable (click on image for link)

The second project, Sindhu, suggested an integration between the lived cultural activities of local people and tourism. The central concern of the researcher here was the tendency of cultural projects to celebrate the past while neglecting the lived culture of the people, thereby depriving them of opportunities for livelihood and development (Junejo, 2022). The project proposed a merger of the two: the heritage of Sindh, in this case, the poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai narrating the stories of ‘surmis,’ and a tour that navigated various sites where the stories were set, culminating in a performance at the Ranikot Fort, one of the landmarks of Sindh. By moving beyond the traditional role of the designer as a visualizer who brings others’ strategies, thoughts, and ideas to life, Junejo chose to propose a service. What was lacking here was the voice of the stakeholders, something that could have resulted from employing human-centered and participatory methodology (Ali, 2017, Hussain, 2023). For instance, a community might be concerned about invasions of privacy or environmental damage that tourism can inflict. Another shortcoming was that despite being a collaboration with students, their role was limited to being visualizers. Participation in such projects provides a valuable learning opportunity for students and future designers, so faculty must ensure a more active role for students.

Journey map of the 7 folk stories of Sindh (2022) Provided by the Author, Digital Video (click on image for link)

The two solo projects, Makhfi and A Quest for Identity, both explored spaces, albeit in different ways. Makhfi was a project proposal that explored Urdu typography to stimulate human interactions and increase the engagement of the Pakistani audience with this dwindling script and language. ‘Makhfi,’ which means ‘covert,’ focuses on the diminishing importance and usage of Urdu. Most of the language’s words are being replaced or underused as other languages become increasingly prevalent alongside Urdu. After Pakistan’s inception, Urdu was declared the national language but has continually struggled with English, the other official language (Akhtar 2022). Through proposed large-scale and life-sized installations in malls, positioned as public spaces, the project merged concepts from interior design, product design, interaction design, and graphic design. Consequently, the project reflected the multidisciplinary approach gaining traction in the creative fields.

Makhafi (Hidden) - Proposed Site - based Installation, 2021, Faiza Mishal Akhter, Digital Image, Size: Variable (click on image for link)

When reflecting on such interactions set in public spaces, the notion of Bhaba’s ‘third space for enunciation’ comes to mind. In Makhfi, the designers’ intent in using malls as the space for these installations is worth considering. In the context of Pakistan, who has access to these malls and who doesn’t? Should malls, identified as ‘third space’ by Jeffres et al. (2009), be used for identity construction? Another question that emerges concerns Urdu and its dominance over other languages in Pakistan. Could other languages also be considered for such installations? Proposals addressing issues of language and public spaces need to be sensitive to such considerations.

Quest for Identity was a film-based installation project that used the medium for both observation and the expression of the filmmaker’s response to his environment (Hammad, 2022). Using the metaphor of turning the camera upside down, the filmmaker documented his environment from the mid-pandemic period to the post-pandemic era. Covering five locations, he distanced himself from these spaces while observing them, especially in terms of human interaction. The films drew from past experiences and perceptions, which viewers encountered through his present.

Hammad took viewers along on his journey of re-familiarizing himself with spaces in his hometown of Multan, post-pandemic. It began with the Jheel (Lake), where the screams of people enjoying a thrilling ride create an almost terrifying experience. People are not seen up close but are experienced through sound. The next film, Hussain Agahi Bazar, is a tentative step closer to action. The viewer sometimes comes face to face with people, especially women, as they go about their daily business during the pandemic. The following film, Dargah of Shah Rukn-e-Alam, takes viewers to the famous shrine, where people are seen feeding pigeons and interacting with them in a shared environment, revealing a relationship of care that came under stress during the pandemic. In Chai ka Dhaba – Tea Stall, the filmmaker brings viewers very close to people who are enjoying themselves. It seems he is gradually overcoming his fear of the pandemic, allowing himself to be in close proximity to others. The last film, Karate, depicts a children’s tournament where people appear to be in a well-lit, clean space, emphasizing the idea of sports as a safe environment for children. In this film the viewer is again distanced from the action. Space and sound create a stark contrast between the initial fear and its gradual fading, replaced by sounds of laughter, joy, and applause as children defeat their rivals in the competition.

Jheel (lake) - Quest for Identity (2020), Farrukh Hammad, Digital Video, Duration: 39 sec (click on image for link)

Hammad employs the camera as both a tool of observation and a means of interaction between the audience and his experience with his environment. He also incorporates semiotics to communicate his response to the pandemic. It remains unclear whether his intent is to experiment with the medium or to push it beyond documentation to create empathy. Is the project a testing ground for further work with the medium?

In “Spontaneous Cinema as a Design Practice,” Rachel Strikland (2008) writes, “The moviemaker’s process of awareness while looking through a viewfinder is not so much directed at the people who may be regarded as subjects as it is engaged in attending to the environment, she shares with them and a mutual experience of the unfolding of events” (pg. 127).

Furthermore, Strickland highlights two changes brought about by digital technology in the realm of filmmaking:

  1. Narrative structure is no longer the predominant principle of organization for film as it evolves into a means of collection or database. Many new media objects do not tell stories; they do not have a beginning or an end; they do not have any development, thematically, formally, or otherwise that would organize their elements into a sequence (pg. 128).
  2. There is a change in the conception of space. Digital technologies have given rise to the conception of navigable space and allow access to multiple spaces simultaneously, a trend visible in spatial montage. Time becomes spatialized, distributed over the surface of the screen (pg. 128).

As an investigative project using the medium of digital film, what might this borrowing of elements from documentary films and new media art accomplish? On one level, it could be a new means of presenting design research, departing from the conventional approach of using film in research solely for data gathering. On a more speculative note, it can also be viewed as an attempt to merge documentary research and narrative while trying the address the conflict between the researcher and the storyteller.

Emerging questions and future directions

The primary goal of the residency was to map out the areas of interest among design faculty members and to encourage and support them in engaging with research-based practice endeavors. It was fascinating to observe that faculty interests were diverse and did not conform to the standardized definitions of design practice often found in design curricula. Faculty members embarked on a range of projects, from investigating crafts and their role in the broader context of human contributions to environmental change and proposing innovative approaches like ‘Ta l-Bell,’ to creating a local visual language for play-based learning through digital media and expanding the awareness of our roles and practices within the environment and its many inhabitants through projects like ‘Bahawalpur Zoo’ and ‘Zoo Escape.’ Student-centered pedagogies were employed to question preconceived notions of nationalism and identity that may have been ingrained in previous generations but do not necessarily align with the feelings of today’s youth, as exemplified in ‘Ae ShehreTezgam.’ Additionally, there was an expansion of design activity into the realm of designing experiences for tourism, as seen in ‘Sindhu’, and at sparking public interactions with Urdu and encouraging its use in projects like ‘Makhfi.’ ‘A Quest for Identity’ used video as both as medium of research and means to respond. It is evident that design faculty members were critically engaging with their socio-cultural environment and responding to it through their practice and research.

However, the challenge lies in how to integrate this diversity of interests and practices into the design curriculum. One starting point could be to use these projects from the Khoj residency as springboards to pose questions and identify areas of relevance and concern specific to the location of these design schools. These projects can serve as a foundation for re-structuring existing curricula, paving the way for the development of a framework that integrates research and practice into the studio curriculum and the broader field of design. Such an approach can also help identify emerging areas and opportunities for design graduates, such as auditing and evaluating existing processes and policies, assessing their impact on the current design landscape, and suggesting interventions. Pedagogically, there is a need to transform the studio into an open space where students undertake design projects as investigations, speculations, experiments in building and making, while challenging established ways of viewing and making.

Acceptance of Designers as Researchers:

Peter Lunenfeld, in the preface to the book ‘Design Research Methods’ (2003), underscores the significance of design research and highlights a major challenge: defining design research and its methods, despite numerous attempts by figures like Moholy-Nagy, Henry Dreyfuss, and Frayling. Introducing the concept of ‘Design as Research,’ Lunenfeld advocates for the recognition of methodologies unique to the discipline. He asserts, ‘Design as research is a rational practice, but it is one in which emotion is allowed its own power and intelligence’ (pg. 11). Lunenfeld makes a clear distinction between scientific research and design research, emphasizing the differences between the two. While scientific research places a premium on replicability and testability, design research is less concerned with these aspects and focuses instead on developing an understanding of socio-cultural contexts. This understanding often leads to design innovations and ideas that resonate with the market and influence design directions.

‘Design Research creates a place to braid theory and practice to make the work stronger. It establishes a demilitarized zone between makers suspicious of discourse and critical intelligence disdainful of the negotiations between designer and client’ (pg. 11).

Recognizing design as research, with its own unique concerns, practices, and methodologies, is essential for the advancement of this field. Therefore, there is an urgent need to advocate for the inclusion of design research in design curricula, design practice and recognition by accrediting bodies like HEC. Design is a discipline with its own theories, conventions, and research practices!

Note on the Residency

The Khoj Design Research Residency was offered to faculty members of communication design departments of four universities and design education institutes. It was a remote Design Research Residency initiated during the pandemic, to encourage a culture of practice-based research[i] in design academia. It was made possible by the US – PAKISTAN UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIPS GRANTS PROGRAM 2020-23, funded by the U.S. Mission to Pakistan and administered by the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP). Two cycles of the residency, each 3 months and 2 months long, allowed the seven grantees to work on research based creative projects of a diverse nature while being mentored by a pool of academics and practitioners.

Works produced during the Khoj Design Research residency were also exhibited in the IVS Gallery curated by Asst. Professor Nomaan Bhatti on the 28th and 29th September 2022. The ceremony was attended by the representatives of US Mission to Pakistan, USEFP, representatives of the partner institutes and participants of the key programs from SABS University of Art, Design and Heritages (SABSU), Karachi School of Art (KSA) and Arts Council Institute of Arts and Crafts (ACIAC).

Image9. Khoj Design Research Residency Exhibition, IVS Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan

Dr. Faiza Mushtaq Dean and Executive Director of IVS presented the welcome note followed by  Shahram Niazi, representative of USEFP and Anastasia Kolivas representative of the U.S. Consulate General. Tazeen Hussain the principal initiator of the grant gave an overview of the Grants activities.

Details of the Khoj Design Research Residency and the 7 projects can be viewed here

Title image: Sea View Beach, Karachi, Pakistan, by Farah Mahbub, digital image, size Variable.

Logo of Khoj by Kashif Muzzafar 2022, experimental calligraphy, size: Variable


Akhtar, F. M. (2022) Makhfi (Hidden), Critical Design Education and Practice,

Ali, H. (2017) Rethinking Design Education in Pakistan: Design Institutions as Sustainability Incubators for Innovation Projects, Design Evolution: Education and Practice Pakistan, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture

Ansari, A. (2014) Redesigning Design Education in Pakistan: Integrating Systems Thinking and Material Culture into Local Design Pedagogy, Cityscapes: Perspectives on the Urban Environment, Pakistan, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture

Ansari, A. (2017) On the Necessity of a Decolonial Practice of Design,  Design Evolution: Education and Practice Pakistan, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture

Ansari, M. and Faiz, F. (2022)  Tal (Bells): The Sound of Rohi, Critical Design Education and Practice,

Balaram, S. (1998) The Impact of State Policies and Politics on Design, Thinking Design, Ahmedabad, India, National Institute of Design

Baloch, Q., Qadeer, R. and Qureshi, H. (2022) Bahawalpur Zoo Website, Critical Design Education and Practice,

Baloch, Q., Qadeer, R. and Qureshi, H. (2022) ZooEscape – Hyper Casual 2D Mobile Game, Critical Design Education and Practice,

Hussain, T. (2023) Design Education: rethinking directions and possibilities, Journal of Art and Design Education, NCA, Pakistan. (to be published)

Jeffres, L. W., Bracken, C. C., Jian, G., & Casey, M. F. (2009). The impact of third places on community quality of life. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 4, 333-345.

Junejo, F. (2022) Sindhu,Critical Design Education and Practice,

Khan, M.A. (2022) Ae Sherhr e Tez Gam | A Fast Moving City, Critical Design Education and Practice,

Lunenfeld, P. (2003) Preface, Design Research Methods and Perspectives, MIT, USA

Rizwan, R. (2019) Interview with Anwar Rammal, Pakistan’s Radio Active Decade An informal Cultural History of the 1970’s, Pakistan, Oxford University Press

Siddiqui, A. (2017) Designers influence on Evolution of Design: Bashir Mirza and Imran Mir, Design Evolution: Education and Practice, Pakistan, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture

Strickland, R. (2008) Spontaneous Cinema as Design Practice, Design Research Methods and Perspectives, MIT, USA

Tarar, N. O. (2008) Aesthetic Modernism in the Post-Colony: The Making of a National College of Art in Pakistan (1950–1960s) The International Journal of Art and Design Education Volume 27, Issue 3, NSEAD, UK

Yusuf, Z. (2019) Interview with Javed Jabbar, Pakistan’s Radio Active Decade An Informal Cultural History of the 1970’s, Pakistan, Oxford University Press

Interview with Nilofer Farrukh conducted by the author 2023


Balaram, S. (1998) Design and Rule: Design Colonisation, Thinking Design, Ahmedabad, India, National Institute of Design

Balaram, S. (1998) Invisible Design: The Alternative Approaches Thinking Design, Ahmedabad, India, National Institute of Design

Butt. N. (2022) Spatial Memories: Narratives of Cultural History in Afrasian Hybridity, The Karachi Collective


Dave, N. and Dube. M. (2021) Imagined Utopias: Art as a Social Practice, Hybrid Volume 04| Risk, Pakistan, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture

Jamil Naqsh

Imran Mir


  1. Practice based research is a framework borrowed from arts and humanities research and being applied to research in design education and practice. Falling under this term design research can fall under two types of directions: When the design artefact or creative output becomes the contributor to knowledge, this is understood as practice-based research and when the research process leads to a new understanding about practice, it is understood as practice-led


  2. Nadeem Omar Tarar is a historical anthologist and the Executive Director for Center for Cultural and Development, Islamabad. He has also served as the Director, National College of Arts, (NCA) Rawalpindi.
  3. The Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) established in 2006. It is a non-profit organization which facilitates designers and acts as their representative and promoter locally and internationally.
  4. Professor Singanapalli Balaram is a veteran Industrial Designer and a design educator from South India. He has served as a faculty member in National Institute of Design (NID) also leading its Foundation Program. He is currently serving as the Advisor at Sasi Creative Colleges, Coimbatore.

    Balaram has written extensively on the role of design in context of the ‘majority world’ a term he championed to replace what he called the derogatory term ‘developing world’. He is the recipient of the honorary fellowship of the Society of Industrial Designers and has served as a member of the advisory board of ‘Design Issues’, USA.  He has presented at international and national forums as well as publishing articles and essays in journals, he has also published books – ‘Thinking Design’ (Second edition), ’Universal Design Handbook (second edition)’ and ‘Teaching Universal Design’. He has also served on the advisory board of ‘Design Issues’, a journal of international repute.

    Balaram is the recipient of The Ron Mace International Award for Universal Design, The Helen Keller award for outstanding contribution to people with special needs and the UNIDO-ICSID award for Design for Development. He is also the recipient of the grand jury award for Universal Design Education conferred by the International Association for Universal Design (IAUD). He was one of the keynote speakers at the Second IAUD conference 2006, Kyoto and third IAUD conference at Hamamatsu 2010


Tazeen Hussain is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Communication Design at Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS). Hussain has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Design from IVS, and a Masters in New Media and Society from the University of Leicester, UK. As a researcher, Hussain has presented her work at national and international conferences. Her current interests include the re-examination of design education in Pakistan and exploring possibilities of design as an active catalyst to the socio-cultural and political landscape. Hussain has been volunteering her services for projects related to creative and social entrepreneurship, sustainable development, climate change, and merging education and design practice. Notable projects include ‘Karachi Art Directory’ with Karachi Biennale Trust and ‘Imparting education on Climate change to vulnerable communities’- UN GRIP.

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Nomaan Bhatti is a multi-disciplinary visual artist and educator who was born and raised in Karachi, Sindh. He graduated in Fine Arts from Karachi School of Arts in 2002 and in 2004 moved to London, UK for his higher studies where he completed his Master’s degree in Film Making from Kingston University. Nomaan has exhibited his work on a number of occasions and has a number of publications to his name. He is currently teaching as an Assistant Professor in the Communication Design department at Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture.

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