The report was the result of extensive study, discussion and exploration of design problems in India by Charles Eames and his wife Ray Eames.
The Report begins with excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita, the Sanskrit poem that explains the importance of work for its own sake rather than for a selfish interest in results. They used the passages as the inspiration for their solution to India’s contemporary problems
The India Report proposed a view of design thinking and its role in the modern world. It envisaged an “Institute of design +research+service”. Design grew out of research into the real problems and needs of society, and by finding solutions at the big scale that India needed, it served a broader social purpose.The report focused on the role of modern designer in “helping others to solve their own problems “ and not to offer his own signature solutions.
In India, Charles Eames was fascinated by commonly used items like the lota and matka (spherical vessel used to carry water). He explained the academic insights one should put before designing by the example of lota and how to get down to the supremely intended design of extreme practicality.
As much as the particular object, what interested Eames was the organic process that resulted in the lota. For him it symbolized a necessary contemporary attitude, one “that will appraise and solve the problems of our coming times with the same tremendous service, dignity and love that the Lota served its time.”
Design, then, is neither the gift of an artistic temperament, nor the technical abilities of the engineer. It is an act of intellection, the encounter of historically enriched imagination with the constraints of the real, in search of scalable solutions to practical problems. And it embodies “a relentless search for quality that must be maintained”, as the Eames report put it, “if this new Republic is to survive.”
Charles focused on how we in india need to invent the the conception of design and his vision reflects how far-sighted he was. He introduced the idea of design as an interdisciplinary design and need to develop arenas-institute – where science, technology, the arts and the social sciences meld together through design, and invent anew.
“In a country that faces the food, shelter and distribution problems that India does,” Charles and Ray wrote in 1958, “it might be well to take a close look at those things that constitute a ‘Standard of Living’ in India… What are the real values? To what degree is snobbery and pretension linked with standard of living? How much pretension can a young Republic afford? What does India ultimately desire? What do Indians desire for themselves and for India?” These questions from over half a century ago resonate today as we build and make, design and market, more energetically than ever before.