Graphics created by Piyush Punj for designfightscovid.com to raise funds for Makers Asylum

As we struggle to find a way to start this story without a cliché (our editor has banned use of ‘uncertain times’, ‘troubled times’, ‘times of corona’) we’d like to salute India’s creative community that has responded to calls for help with the pandemic in myriad ways. We can’t possibly cover them all here, but we’d like to call out the few we know, in the hope it will inspire more. We’d also like to thank the people who pointed us to these efforts. THC Fam – we can always count on you!

Collateral for Covid 19 Awareness

Graphic designers have quickly helped to create engaging posters, brochures and graphics to spread awareness about dos and don’ts. This has ranged from designers working with Governments to those doing pro-bono work for NGOs and of course, creators working independently who have brought their own ideas and individual styles to Corona-related messages.

Graphics by @smishdesigns

Platforms for Collaboration

The community has also found innovative ways to bridge the gap between creators and those who need their services.

Karn Malhotra, Founder, Outlined.co holds Designothons – one day hackathon style events where NGOs submit their needs and designers address them. This year the Designothon was held online, over a twelve hour period. It saw 120+ creators, across 8 cities and 3 time zones, come together to create more than 40+ campaigns and 200+ creative assets for 19 cause-driven organisations.

Created in the Designothon held on April 11, 2020
Left: Rohini Ramakrishnan for IDA, Odisha
Right: Gaurabh Mathure for Creative Collective of India

Another platform called designfightscovid.com takes an unusual approach to collaboration. Created by Art&Found.com, an online affordable art site, designfightscovid allows designers to submit work and specify a verified NGO that they would like visitors to fund. Founder, Aditya Mehta says that more than 100+ designers have created graphics for the platform.

The industry body, Association of Designers in India (ADI) will shortly launch a platform that aims to bring together creators with manufacturers and suppliers, who can help to take their ideas to fruition.  Michael Foley, President, ADI Bangalore Chapter, says that while this will first focus on innovations relevant to Covid 19, the long-term plan is to create a platform that connects all stakeholders in the design and manufacturing ecosystem.

The Rise of Collectives

A number of collectives have arisen, where volunteers are pooling resources to help organisations at the frontline. Most of these include design volunteers, helping to make everything from masks to posters, website to tools.

#COVIDactionCollab (CAC) for example, is a collective of 1000+ individuals and 150+ organisations and networks across India who are pooling together their expertise and resources. Their volunteer designers and developers are working on guidelines, protocols, posters and tech tools to aid health workers and NGOs. 

Tools that have been created for Swasti.org, for example, include a tool that maps NGOs working on Covid 19 with their reach. There is also a ‘Food and Essentials Estimator’,  a quick calculator based on real-data to estimate costs for supporting families with food and essentials. To contribute to CAC, contact covidaction@catalysts.org or Angela Swasti.

A tool that maps NGOs working on COVID19 with their reach, created for Swasti.org

StartupsVsCovid19 is a another collective of startup founders who are focusing their efforts behind the #ApnaDeshApnamask campaign – an initiative to get Indians to understand the importance of wearing masks.  Well-known names, from Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Sequoia, to Vijay Shekar Sharma, Founder Paytm have lent their voices to this campaign. A tie-up with Inmobi Glance is on the cards to widen reach further.  The next phase of the campaign will see brands are adding masks to their logos. To help with this campaign, contact Aditya Kothari

StartupsvCovid19 is running the #apnadeshapnamask campaign

Low Cost Innovation

No matter what changes or stays the same, the pandemic has driven home the need for low cost innovation and local supply chains. Makers are addressing the need for masks, face shields, low-cost ventilators, even hospital-beds.

A paper hospital bed from Aryan Paper Group

Foley Designs, one of India’s best known industrial design firms, has created a number of open-source mask drawings, and are in the process of prototyping these. For more information contact : info@foleydesigns.com

A rhombus face mask from Foley Designs

Mahavir Singh and Nishtha Kaushik at FabLab Chandigarh, (the solo Indian Fab lab amongst the global network of 1600+), have taken the origami route to form a rugged, non-breakable and reusable face shield by bending their way through an A3 sheet of cellulose acetate and simple rubber bands. The cost of to make this shield is just Rs. 12.

A low-cost face shield from FabLab, Chandigarh

As we said, we are calling out only a few initiatives. There must be many more and we would love to hear about them. Write to us at community@thehardcopy.co

The rights to all the creative work shown on this page rests with the creators and has been used with their consent.

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