How It Began

Rising began as a reaction to the world around us and issues that affect us, through the lens of our core competency as visual communication designers at Codesign. While a large percentage of projects were being commissioned by for-profit clients, the occasional project in the development sector, gave us room to think about leveraging the same skills of communicating and change-making to address social issues.

Left to Right: Sonali Khan, Stalin K, Nitesh Mohanty, Richard van der Laken & Pepijn Zurburg at UnBox Festival 2012

In the second edition of the multidisciplinary festival UnBox in 2012, co-founded by Codesign, we curated a thought-provoking series of lectures by creative professionals who were using their skills to address issues and initiate change. The speakers included Sonali Khan of Breakthrough, Stalin K of Video Volunteers, Nitesh Mohanty of The Root and Richard van der Laken & Pepijn Zurburg of The Daily Gorilla. Each of these speakers, through their work, had demonstrated the power of communication design as a catalyst for change.

The first Rising Exhibition, at UnBox 2012

In parallel we also curated a public exhibition of powerful work from Breakthrough, The Daily Gorilla and The Great Indian Clearance Sale. Open to the public, the exhibition triggered several conversations and a great deal of optimism in the ability of the designer to influence and affect change.

Rising Exhibition – Forgotten Citizens 1984, at UnBox 2013

In the following year, the second edition of the exhibition showcased a moving photo-journalistic account of the 1984 Sikh rights, presented by activist-lawyer H. S. Phoolka—in an attempt to keep alive the delayed process of justice. Somewhere, between these two years, there was also an internal short-lived attempt within the studio to create powerful visual commentary on local news through a dedicated Facebook page.

After a hiatus of about six months, we sat down to look at the learnings from the past Rising efforts, to understand the best possible manner in which the urge to do something could be channelized. One key outcome of this, was the decision to not formulate a specific format of execution or address a laundry list of issues. We decided to scale back the vision, to a more personal and immediate environment, addressing issues that affect us as individuals. This decision made the intent more localised, and brought it closer to personal experience, with the idea being—let’s start by making a difference, here and now. Rising, we hope, will serve as inspiration and proof-of-concept towards the capacity of a small group of individuals to make a difference.

The independent projects that will be created in-house under Rising are a very important component of this, since they present a real-life, hands-on view of what it takes to create self-initiated interventions at the level of individuals and small groups.