Art & Design Magazine

Designing in Tibet

By Utpalpande @utpalpande
Design @The Roof of the World: Strümpel By VSUAL on September 1, 2011 in Article VSUAL has been in touch with Markus Strümpel and we took this opportunity to talk to the German graphic designer about the projects he has been working on at  the Norbulingka Institute. After working at Meta Design Markus moved to India to work as a designer for the Dalai Lama. Recently, he returned from the base camp of the Mt. Everest — we’ll be featuring his exciting journey and the images he took in another article later this month. Right now we take a look at two of his projects: Norbulingka and the Tibetan Museum and understand why they’re so important for Tibet and its people.   Buddhism changed the whole Tibetan way of life, giving rise to a more compassionate community, in which there is a more peaceful attitude towards ourselves, towards our fellow human beings, towards animals and towards the environment. In today’s world there’s a lot of talk about peace and non-violence, but the real factor in creating genuine peace is compassion, not just education and technology. Where there is compassion, a sense of community, a sense of respect for others’ rights is automatic. In order to promote compassion, it is not sufficient just to talk; it needs to be spread through example. I believe that our peaceful and compassionate Tibetan society is such an example; that’s why it is worth preserving, and I am pleased to see that in its work to keep Tibetan culture alive, the Norbulingka Institute is actively contributing to that task. – H H the Dalai Lama. The Norbulingka Institute  The dreams that gave rise to the Norbulingka Institute began to emerge in 1980s, when the Tibetan refugee community had been in exile for nearly 25 years. With the means of physical survival secured, many monasteries re-established and a satisfactory education system set up, thoughts turned to better preserving Tibetan identity and cultural roots. At the same time, a revelation took place as conditions in Tibet were relaxed and communications between the community in exile and their compatriots in Tibet opened up once more. The Norbulingka emerged from the need to fill the gap between the old and new Tibet, from the urgency to establish a centre to preserve Tibetan culture and its artistic traditions; as somewhere that could preserve the past for the future. Building began in October 1988 with the gatehouse. The first artists arrived a year later when Temba Chophel and some of his students from Lhasa joined the Institute. They began to decorate the gatehouse in the traditional manner. As the Institute grew, carpenters, woodcarvers and sculptors began to contribute, each in their own way. Meanwhile, many people freshly arrived from Tibet and in search of work and training were taken on. As efficient administration became necessary young Tibetans born and educated in India were employed. Tibetan writers created a literary and cultural research team and began publishing in Tibetan. Within a decade of inauguration in 1995, Norbulingka has come to represent a viable cross-section of the Tibetan community at large, where the traditional and modern interact and Tibetan culture and values retain their vibrant potential. The Norbulingka Institute is a registered trust, under the chairmanship of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is situated in Dharamsala, India and more than 300 mainly Tibetan people are working, studying and living here. Norbulingka offers woldleading quality and knowledge in the field of traditional Tibetan arts and literary studies. Preserving Tibetan culture is the main focus of the Institute. After ten years of existence and the background of an increasing international approach, Strümpel started working on the branding and marketing strategies for the institute. He worked on the brand strategy as well as the corporate design and communicated it through design workshops, which he conducted at the Norbulingka compound.   The Tibet Museum  Between 1999 and 2000 Strümpel has been involved in establishing and designing the Tibet Museum and its first exhibition “A Long Look Homeward”. Located in Dharamsala, India, it is the first museum on political Tibetan history and situated right next door of the Dalai Lama’s residence. Together with his project partner, Michael Ginguld, and a team of helpers, Strümpel’s task was the conceptualization, design and production of basically everything the visitors would get to see. The Museum was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in April 2000.    

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