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Impacts#6 - Hélène Thébault: bringing design into NGOs

Impacts#6 - Hélène Thébault: bringing design into NGOs

“More often than not it is constraints which fuel creativity”

Immersed in Indian culture for her Transcultural Design Master’s program in Bangalore, Hélène Thébault graduated as a designer in 2014. Specialized in social innovation and Design Thinking, she chose to remain in India to set up her NGO, Farside Collective.

In India, nothing ever goes the way you expect,” remarks Hélène, co-founder of NGO Farside Collective, based in Ladakh, an organization which works on the border between art and design to promote Indian heritage and culture. “You have to be patient and flexible and more often than not it is the constraints which fuel creativity”.

Unlock Hundarman – the birth of a project

The anthropological perspective she acquired during her training in Master program in transcultural design in India has been particularly precious in the development of her project "Unlock Hundarman". The project was born following workshops involving young design professionals, students and locals, and has helped promote the cultural, material and immaterial heritage of the small village of Hundarman, which was deserted by its inhabitants due to the India-Pakistan conflicts. This unique project built with the inhabitants examines the question of re-activating cultural heritage and its potential to create new uses for the inhabitants. Today, the museum is set up in two houses in the village and is run directly by the inhabitants. It has already welcomed nearly 600 visitors generating a profit of 60 000 rupees (about 200 euros, a considerable amount of money for this remote village).

“Wanderlust and (…) design practice”

Hélène has travelled around India on her motorbike. These travels have stimulated her “wanderlust and shaped her design practice”. With her NGO, she wishes to pursue her projects in India and the restoration of the site “in order to welcome artists and designers in residence, students, and tourists…but still with the active participation of the locals,” she insists.

The young designer shares her time between the Himalayan mountains and Ahmedabad where she teaches design at CEPT University. In September 2017, she also joined the teaching staff of India Studio at L’École de design, Delhi. In the near future, she hopes to create her own unique place. An adventurous center combining art, design and architecture. “A place of life and culture which would challenge the established order – a place for living, discussing, sharing and celebrating…