A n k i t a D ' S o u z a
Value Valued Valuable
Exploring the Human-Object Relationship
As material beings in a material world, we own countless objects. These inanimate belongings exhibit our personality, display our presence and remain as memories of our existence. In many ways, what we own forms the fabric of the larger environments in which we exist. These material possessions are a window into the lives we live. The intimate relationship that exists between us and our !things"#is the focal point of my investigations. Guided by personal experiences and surrounded by numerous stories and memories, I attempted to visually explore, document, and narrate these accounts to remind us of how all these lifeless objects bring joy, spark awe, and often move us to tears.
The world of objects, however !ordinary", is a trove of disguises, concealments, subterfuges, provocations and triggers that no singular, embodied and knowledgeable subject can exhaust 1. These words define the power our possessions have and hold over us. The material belongings in our lives fill the space we occupy. Not everything in our possession always has a purpose but remains to exist in our environment. Such items represent different levels of value and use. We#$%e constantly interacting with them – mending, polishing, rearranging, replacing, remodelling, re- purposing ,and similar. The relationships we create are forged subconsciously and often trigger emotion. We react to things being broken or misplaced even if they are usually easily replaceable. Growing up in a family in which the habit of collection had been passed down through multiple generations, it was impossible to escape the need to be curious about even the smallest of objects. From stamps to feathers and bottle caps to coins, my home was a mini archive of the times. It was fascinating to see how this habit evolved through the years and the different ways we all found to house our findings. Leather books specifically designed for stamps, old biscuit boxes for coins, map–shaped boards fashioned to display spoon collections and, more recently, re-purposed shoe boxes for museums leaflets and tickets; whatever our choice of container, it always had enough room for generational quantities. This innate curiosity for the quaint, delicate, and rare was what led me to create my own collection of oddities upon moving to Basel. I see it as a mark of my time here and a souvenir from someone’s life I might never be acquainted with. But as these objects spoken about move around with me, from me or away from me, the connection I have forged with them remains. I would be taken back to the moment I acquired them just by seeing something similar, or by reliving a similar situation. These aspects of memory create the bond of our relationship with the things we own. Apart from our attachment to what we purchase for its novelty, the personal attachment we have for certain everyday and frequently used possessions also is a matter of interest to me. Our favourite mug, the pair of jeans that fit just right, the lamp on the desk at home, probably the most overlooked, but also the most valued. Depending upon the stage of our life, there are a number of factors that determine the value of certain possessions. These belongings are what define us in a way and offer information about our being. On this journey of defining the value, valued, and valuable aspects of our possessions, I told the stories of these personal and impersonal things. From documenting their variety in shape, size, value and material for personal items to archiving the location, origin, condition, and composition of the impersonal collection, I employ different media to tell the stories of my findings. As a visual communicator, my aim was to bring our focus onto the insignificant, everyday things that continue to display the true nature of our environments and serve as vessels of repeated storytelling.
1 – Hudek, A. (Editor) – The Object – Documents of Contemporary Art, The MIT Press, 2014 (p.14)

B i o g r a p h y
Ankita D’Souza is a graphic designer, lettering artist, and illustrator from Bangalore, India. After graduating from the MIT Institute of Design, Pune, India, she worked on a wide range of projects at design studios in Bombay and Bangalore. She moved to Basel in 2020, to pursue the MDes programme at the FHNW. Her work is an extension of her personality – dynamic, curious, and authentic.

C h i a r a G o n s a l v e s
Food for Thought: A Visual Exploration of Indian and European Food Culture
Food is a universal basis of understanding between people. It brings people together, it helps them communicate with one another, and it can express thoughts that are unspoken. Art, in the same sense, does all the aforementioned as well. The concept of food culture in art is celebrated throughout the entire world, through different mediums of expression, be it in the form of words, gestures, sounds, or visuals. With my thesis, I try to find a better understanding of two food cultures: that of Europe and that of my home country, India. I try to see how they adapt to each other, and maybe even help each other grow through the aid of visuals, using form, colours, and shape. guided my enquiry into intimate spaces.
The terms ‘art’ and ‘food’ go hand in hand with each other. While one captures the intricacies of human life, the other sustains us. Throughout history, these two terms have worked very well together: they nourished each other and, at some point, the boundaries between food and art became blurred. Over many centuries and decades, artists have managed to bring these two together through various forms of expression. In the course of time, the depiction of food in art has been symbolic, representative, and narrative – right from cave paintings, where cavemen used vegetable dyes as a medium to express themselves; or ancient Egypt, where food items were used as hieroglyphs as a means of communication. They were also found on the inner walls of burial chambers in the Egyptian pyramids, added in the hope that the deceased would be well nourished in the afterlife. Ancient Indian sculptures and architecture are virtually laden with food-based imagery and symbolization. There were also ancient Mughal cookbooks, in which the recipes and illustrations were depicted in the Mughal miniature style of paintings. What we can see thanks to some of these examples was that food was used mainly, and most importantly, as a means of communicating with one another. My interest in this topic emerged after I moved to Basel, Switzerland, in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic. Once I arrived here, I started observing the food culture of the city and tried to compare it to that of my own experiences from back home in India. Once my interest was really piqued, I started researching how different these two cultures could possibly be. They varied a lot from just the usage of colour, form, and of course, to space and place. People reuse, readapt, and repeat ingredients and recipes from other cultures and try to blend them with their own. We see everywhere how common ingredients and food sources can be interpreted and used as completely different dishes in various parts of the world. With this thesis, I studied and researched how two food cultures can be visually represented through diverse mediums and how they adapt within each other, still keeping a few points in mind such as the way we communicate through food, the place where it originates from and the way we prepare and consume it. My experimentation was based a lot on the way colour was used in different mediums and in different cultures and how form played an important role throughout. I tried various means to represent both food cultures, such as photography, using creative coding, painting, and vector forms. While working through my process, I discovered the topic of flavour visualization and tried to see how this would integrate into my thesis topic. The other aspects that were touched upon were geographical location and the traditions of specific cultures. Through my research, I learnt that food has an especially important symbolization in art practices, and it has helped me to try and create a visual diary of how two cultures can be either so different from each other, or somehow integrate and fit in and try to adapt to one another. We, as humans, keep growing, keep evolving, and keep searching for newer, better findings. And the culture that we are surrounded by grows and evolves with us, too, and thus constantly changes. I learnt that form and colour play a vital role in helping me explore these food cultures visually, while also realizing that food and ingredients can be interpreted in so many ways. Food accompanies us in everything that we do; it aids our communication, it is relevant in many social, cultural, and political contexts and – more importantly – it integrates us and brings us together. Food will be a constantly revisited topic, especially in art, as it has the ability to tell stories.

B i o g r a p h y
Chiara Gonsalves is a graphic designer from Chennai, India. She has been in the field of design for eight years and is always interested in learning about new things, and open to conversations on just about anything. In her spare time, she likes to play guitar, float down the Rhine and explore Basel.

P r a r t h a n a D i x i t
in formation: Future Memoirs of Indian Matchbox Labels
Ever since colonial times, matchboxes play a significant role in Indian history. Even today, matchboxes are found everywhere in India, from streets to one’s kitchen. They embody a tremendous visual culture that substantially reflects Indian society. However, the visual design, like iconography, has undergone an extensive amount of change throughout history. Therefore, this study focuses on a visual analysis of match labels and on investigating transformations by deconstructing them. In addition, the experiments emphasize the memories of the labels by unravelling analogue and digital connections relating to the object and informing the question of what people’s future memories of Indian match labels would be.
India’s independence from the British took place in 1947, after 90 years of being a British colony. Prior to this, it was passed through many hands, resulting in a wide range of cultures that still influence twenty-first century India.1 Throughout Indian history, the transformation of imagery and typography has led to a kitschy, contemporary, and transitional visual culture. Such distinctive graphic representations are replicated on the matchboxes as fragments that can be sourced even today. And though this eclectic mix of iconographies relates to the idea of popular culture that captures India’s vast visual vernacular, can it bridge the gap between the ‘colonial past’ and ‘post-colonial present’?2 Matchbox designs are often looked on as a device to relive history, and many researchers and historians have investigated the subject to draw conclusions about the past by analyzing the labels. However, for an onlooker, the tiny object serves other purposes. For some, it spawns personal memories and nostalgic feelings through its remarkable designs. Hence, this research is an attempt to understand the ‘future memory’ of matchbox labels, from a human perspective as well as a machine-based one. With technological advancements, a digital preservation of the labels is a step towards archiving, but what will be the next spectrum of design that these matchboxes can generate? Matchboxes make marvellous collectibles for their analogue designs, but these designs are perishable, so how can they be preserved in analogue form by understanding the transformation pattern that the labels have been through? Will the new designs be influenced by new media of artificial images? And if so, how? Perhaps, matchboxes will soon be on the verge of extinction due to the dramatic fallbacks that the industries are facing with the increase in taxation and inflation throughout the country. Their production has been cut down to minimum units and, thus, preserving these match labels relies on individual collectors and passionate archivers. This leads to a great concern – what will be the future of the Indian matchbox? Given this curiosity, like that of any other Indian designer based outside his or her native country, there is a constant worry to protect the visual culture of these tiny objects. Thus, the purpose of this research is to gather information on the subject and evaluate the analogue design by speculating about its potential in the digital realm.
1 - Ratan, N. (2017). What Makes an Image Indian? The Vernacular Design of Matchboxes (dissertation).
2 - Gandhi, L.(2019). Postcolonial theory: A critical introduction. Columbia University Press.

B i o g r a p h y
Prarthana currently works as a visual & interaction designer for freelance projects based in India and central Europe. Having industrial experience of 5+ years across various graphic design disciplines, she often likes to explore analogue and digital world of design which includes publication, UI/UX , information architecture, data visualisation and creative coding.

On the Mysteries of the Design Process (Entwurf)
Thesis projects are considered the crowning project of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree programme. Students are well aware that their thesis project can be the starting point for their later practical work or further in-depth studies for a Master’s degree or PhD. This expectation is both a motivation and a burden for the examinees, because overly ambitious goals tend to restrict rather than promote experimental work within a design process. Despite this initial situation, which is moreover exacerbated by being framed as part of the final examination – and who would want to fail an examination – students time and again succeed in surprising their mentors, the assessing experts, themselves, and visitors to the thesis exhibition by the results of their thesis projects. In this context, to surprise means to develop an analogue or digital visual-communication product that was not even imaginable, let alone predictable at the beginning of the thesis work and that, by its deviation from the already known, provides the recipients of such a communication with unexpected findings, perspectives, truths, or even insights. How does one deal with the dilemma described above, which arises from being oriented towards and open to goals, which such a free experiment presupposes?
If we are looking for answers to this question, it should first be said that practical design processes are so complex because they defy any planning. The German term of Entwurf for design processes is apt because its reference to the activity of throwing (Wurf) addresses the performative aspect of the process that characterizes design practices in art, design, visual communication, and architecture. Throwing consists, on the one hand, in an intended target that is consciously determined (target direction = thesis description) and, on the other one, of letting go of whatever is thrown and surrendering it to forces that are not controlled by the thrower (trajectory = open-ended experiment). Thus, the dilemma between analytical procedure and open ended search-process is already addressed by the very concept of a design and calls into question a further generalization of the patterns of design processes because the open-ended experiment does not follow any preconceived rules. Nevertheless, the result is not random, but emerges from the influence of different forces. The active forces at work in the design process are the designer, the materials, and a broad spectrum of socio-cultural influences that manifest themselves through tools, medium, and designer. This complex interplay of forces represents the potential for something unexpected to emerge that evolves beyond what was initially intended.
The question now is: how can education prepare students for the aforementioned search of the unexpected? Without claiming to be exhaustive, a few points can be listed below as theses that allow students to successfully overcome the difficulties of the design processes. These points can also be defined as a logic of practice (Barbara Bolt, 2003).
– Experience in dealing with design processes enables students to not simply stick to a verbally formulated goal, but to refine, revise, adapt, or differentiate it during the actual process.
– The process competence allows a conscious alternation of analytical, goal-oriented phases with intuitive, experimental, open-goal phases.
– Studying in a mixed group of students promotes the students’ recognition of their own socio-cultural and individual conditions and enables students to ponder them. Experiencing the effect of one’s own designs and their reception by a varied public promotes a critical evaluation and questioning of one’s own results.
– The mental archive of images seen from current image and media production and image and media history established during the course supports the critical analysis of one’s own designs and the recognition of deviations from what was seen. The crafts and technical experience gleaned during their studies enables students to vary tools and media and use them in experiments.
The present publication of the thesis projects, the publication of these projects on the internet plus the thesis exhibition provide an insight into the variety of processes that the students have gone through in the interaction between conscious analysis and open experimentation. It shows how far the students’ abilities, described as process competence, manifest themselves. Even by simply beholding these thesis projects, one can assume an analytical point of view or immerse oneself in the presentations and let oneself be surprised. We congratulate the students of the Digital Communication Environments Institute on the various design processes they initiated, and the results developed from them, which this catalogue presents. I am convinced that the competences summarily described here are a good basis to further develop their very own practical logic and, thus, make socially relevant contributions to the future, which manifests them-self as deviations.
Prof. Michael Renner, Head of the Institute Digital Communication Environments