DELHI: Noted designer and craft revivalist Laila Tyabji has been bestowed with the title of National Design Guru by the Sonipat-based World University of Design. She was given the honor on occasion of National Design Guru Day which the university celebrates annually on the birth anniversary of renowned design thinker Prof. MP Ranjan to pay tribute to the first generation of Design Gurus in India.
Laila Tyabji is a name synonymous with the revival and renaissance of traditional Indian crafts and the empowerment of artisans across the country. Her remarkable journey as a designer, activist, and co-founder of Dastkar, a society for crafts and craftspeople, has left an indelible mark on the Indian cultural landscape. She has played a pivotal role in promoting indigenous craftsand preserving the rich tapestry of India’s artistic heritage.Over the last 35 years, Dastkar, under Laila Tyabji’s visionary leadership, has partnered with numerous crafts organizations and NGOs to uplift artisans and provide them with economic opportunities.
Laila Tyabji’s commitment to artisans extends across the length and breadth of the country, encompassing diverse craft forms such as Banjara Needle Crafts, Rabari mirror work from Kutch and Maharashtra, Chikan craft from Lucknow, Gond, Phad, and Mata art from Pacheri, Madhubani painters, Kasuti embroidery from Karnataka, Handloom weavers in Bihar and Karnataka, as well as leather, textile, and terracotta artisans in Rajasthan.In recognition of her exceptional contributions to India’s crafts sector, in 2012, Laila Tyabji was honored with the prestigious Padma Shri Award by the Govt. Of India.
Delivering the MP Ranjan Memorial Lecture at the felicitation ceremony, Laila Tyabji said: “All over India, we have crafts people with extraordinary skills who are able to handcraft everything, from a terracotta statue to a temple, from a wicker basket to diamond jewelry. They are not only an important part of our aesthetic and culture, but of our economy too. These skillsets and knowledge systems represent a gold mine, an edge that we have over the rest of the world. However, our crafts people face lot of discrimination. They are seen as part of an exotic but irrelevant India rather than the skilled professionals that they are. Having travelled the world, I have realized that what makes us interesting as a nation are our uniqueness and differences from others in the world, not our similarities.If we need to make a place for ourselves in the world, we should do it on the basis of our skills, not our weaknesses. And one of our core strengths is the distinctive aesthetic of our crafts and knowledge systems.In this context, I congratulate the World University of Design for their incredible contribution to the world of design and crafts in India and given this field its due value.”
Addressing the audiences, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Vice-Chancellor, World University of Design, said, “WUD started honoring Design Gurus to inspire design practitioners to strive for excellence as well as knowledge sharing within the community. The recognition of outstanding contributors not only motivates individuals but also draws attention to significance of design education. The award seeks to create role models, encourage collaboration, and set benchmarks for excellence, thereby driving advancements and raising standards within the field.
Laila is an illustrious member of that generation of ‘gurus’ who have, for more than three decades, supported and promoted the cause of crafts and craftspeople of India; designing, developing & contemporarising the crafts, honing skills, and developing markets. She has single handedly created awareness regarding Indian crafts in India and throughout the world.”
Since their inception in 2018 World University of Design has emerged as a prominent educational institution spearheading all creative fields as a discipline. Being the first and the only institution exclusively dedicated to the creative fields, the university recognizes National Design Guru Day every year to mark the birth anniversary of Prof. M P Ranjan, a name that pioneered design education as part of mainstream curriculum and helped it percolate it through generations of students of design. While observing this day annually the university pays its homage to the first generation of Design Gurus who flagged off the revolutionary design movement in India.