Skip to main content

Deepika Srivastava

Deepika Srivastava is a design historian with research interests at the intersection of contemporary design and architecture, with focus on the Indian subcontinent. She holds a bachelor's degree in interior design from the Centre of Environment Planning and Technology (C.E.P.T.) in India. Prior to joining the V&A/RCA MA in History of Design, she worked in India as a research assistant in academia (at C.E.P.T.), writer for a design magazine published by the Indian Institute of Interior Designers (IIID), and in the areas of research and interpretation in Lokusdesign (Pune, India), a museum design firm.

Her MA research allowed her to dig through the archives of the East India Company and engage with narratives of colonial India while studying a piece of gold jewellery from South Asia, and explore the historiography of the design change of microwave cooking in the UK. She sees her essay on microwave cooking as an exploration of her interest in domesticity, which she first looked at through her undergraduate dissertation on representation of the kitchen in lifestyle media in India after the economic liberalisation of 1991.

In her spare time, she likes reading fiction and is working on a novel of her own, which deals with the struggles of communities whose mother tongue is endangered.




Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

During her time at the MA, she also worked as a volunteer in areas of interpretation at the V&A Museum of Childhood, and collections management at the V&A Blythe House. She is also one of the contributors for the V&A/RCA MA History of Design blog, Unmaking Things.

At the moment, she is writing her MA dissertation which is an exploration into alternative ways of studying contemporary architecture practices in India by looking at how social networks and agencies operate within practices. She is investigating this through questions along the agency of the institutional client, and role of information technology in influencing these networks. To conduct this research, she will look at oral history methods and professional and popular architecture journals published in India.

Going forward she intends to further work on her research interests through roles in consulting firms and publishing.

Image: 'The State of Architecture: Practices and Processes in India' exhibition, held in Mumbai from Jan-Mar 2016
Credits: Domus India, March 2016, p.30.


History of Design RCA2020 team

Quarantine, lockdown, social and physical distancing, pandemic: words we usually only encounter in dystopian literature and movies have become the defining motto of our lives. As we adjust to life under new rules, we, as the Royal College and Victoria & Albert Museum’s History of Design programme, like everyone else, have had to radically alter our approach to studying and working.

As first-year students, our contributions to RCA2020 form a work-in-progress encounter with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This serves as a springboard for collecting, discussing and sharing ideas on the topic of Digital Discomforts. The project explores issues brought about by the impact of digitization and the web, such as structural inequalities in digital access, the design of sites and content encountered online, user experiences in the internet and evolving conversation channels.

Resulting from intense weeks of collaborative work, the following diagrams are representations of our practice as design historians, intended to reflect real-life corridor-conversations we would have usually had in person as part of our studies. Impromptu, spontaneous and intellectually unpredictable these conversations embrace spelling mistakes and thematic jumps as characteristic of the method of communication. Our diagrams show the twists and turns of such informal, creative encounters.

You may find them sometimes difficult to navigate, or even difficult to read. This is a deliberate dramatisation of the experience of digital inequality, bringing with it digital discomfort.
coronavirusCOVID-19DecolonisingDigitaldigital discomfortsDisabilityHistorieslibrariesLockdownPublic SpaceRemote WorkingSurveillance And Privacy
Launch Project


Digital Discomforts: Decolonising Design Education
This discussion examined the ways in which the digital creates and reinforces acts of colonisation. Concerns that were raised include: algorithm suggestions that amplify or silence the cultures and identities of minority groups; the sources from which dominant systems are produced (often from the Global North); how digital laws facilitate the growth of alt-right communities; and the blanket model of ‘the user’ for whom tech companies design their codes. In probing the discomforts and violences brought about by digital design, students’ texts foreground the importance for design historians and researchers to demand and contribute to actionable change at both a micro (altering open-source codes) and macro (targeting large tech conglomerates) level. As viewers of this map you may experience exclusion - the English language translations may be too small for you to read, for example - in this way we aim to evoke the digital discomfort of minority groups.

Decolonising algorithms – or for that matter anything – begins with decolonising education. The discussion is followed by an interview with Tanveer Ahmed, a Visiting Tutor at the RCA, on decolonising design education. This interview attempts to decode what decolonising design education would entail. It begins by asking how ways of conducting research in the context of design education can be decolonised. Major themes that emerge from the discussion include: the need to diversify and decolonise the institution, impact of student engagement and protests, and integration of community-based approaches in education.

In Collaboration with:

Remote Working

In this conversation, participants discussed the ways in which remote working has posed difficulties for students’ learning experiences. In the context of the V&A/RCA History of Design MA where online lectures have been a main teaching tool in the past few months, students grappling with the requirements of Zoom learning featured prominently in the discussion. Struggles in feeling connected to peers, issues with privacy and surveillance, ‘touch up’ features, and the curation of Zoom backgrounds were highlighted. With these issues in mind, the conversation concluded by asking how users can adapt to these features, and to what extent digital design responses which seek to alleviate these issues have been successful.

In Collaboration with:

Dating Apps

There is an ever-increasing panorama of dating apps, each with their own signature approach towards connecting strangers online. What sets each app apart can either be an alluring concept (c.f. Hinge’s ‘The dating app designed to be deleted’), or innovative features and interfaces (the infamous swipe function). Often, what determines the success of these apps is a claim to have uniquely overcome the discomforts behind online dating. In this conversation, students discuss the extent to which the design of dating apps have influenced the dating landscape, and the ways in which gender, sexuality, and geographies shape the individual user’s experience.

In Collaboration with:

Previous Student

Next Student

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
Royal College of Art
Registered Office: Royal College of Art,
Kensington Gore, South Kensington,
London SW7 2EU
RCA™ Royal College of Art™ are trademarks
of the Royal College of Art