Since last year there has been a distinct shift in its audience – from young design students, to a variety of young entrepreneurs and design firms. And the festival has built its trademark conference repertoire through a series of short talks grouped thematically, which are then contextualized and discussed through moderated panel discussions. This year's themes included the role of new media in social activism, experiences in building brands, re-invigorating hand-craft traditions and exploring what 'curating' means in the context of contemporary culture.
A hugely popular presentation was by Marije Vogelzang, who shared her projects in designing experiences around food, from innovative dinners developed around a single colour, employing inventive use of cutlery and crockery, to workshops with young children where they made fashion accessories with vegetables and fruit - as a way to make them eat! Among these was a poignant setting where gypsy women - often ostracized and shunned in European society - fed anonymous guests with their own hands, while sharing intimate stories, poetry and musings. For the Indian audience, it brought back memories of a feudal past, where social distinctions governed prevented eating between members of different 'castes', and reflections of how urbanization and the emergence of 'modern' cities has begun to erase them.
With a country struggling to articulate a vision for its design sector to be taken more seriously by the business and government communities, the festival can enable a continuous exposure to innovative experiments across the world, and showcase the best examples of such leadership within India
How do we then develop a common language? And what will be the next step for such a platform as Unbox?
Mayank Mansingh Kaul is a Delhi-based textile and fashion designer working with contemporary hand-crafts. He works in the field of Cultural and Creative industries' Policy; and is the Founder of The Design Project India, an organization to initiate and support curatorial ideas and writing on Indian design. He was a speaker at the Unbox Festival this year.