Superflux: Mangala For All



Mangala for All explores India's space ambitions within the context of global (meta)geopolitics and the commercial space industry. Mangalyaan, or the Mars Orbitor Mission (MOM) is an Indian spacecraft orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. To coincide with the launch of Mangalyaan, or the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), Superflux launched Mangala For All, a reflexive ethnographic performance in the streets of Ahmedabad, India, where they offered participants a Mangalyaan Miniature in exchange for insights into what Mangalyaan and the Indian Space Programm means to the people of Ahmedabad. Stories of jugaad, scientific innovation, resourcefulness and creativity in Mangalyaan’s success were entangled with assumptions about its impact on people’s hopes and aspirations, as well as the subtexts of nationhood, geopolitics and the space race. Superflux asked whether Mangalyaan was an act of nation building, or a symbol of progress and development? Was it the Indian elite’s delusional quest for superpower status, as economist-activist Jean Dreze has commented, or a way ‘to dislodge the perception of India as a developing nation, by showcasing spectacular technology’?

Superflux endorses the interpretation of the Mangalyaan mission as India’s most audacious and successful example of jugaad so far, as it was completed in 14 months and at low cost ($75 million), prompting the question whether cost and time saving are the sole characteristics of design in precarity. In the context of current debates about the value of speculative design and racism, Superflux’s documentation of the reception and commentary following the launch reveal conflicting interpretations of the right to engage on a global social imaginary of space exploration. While The New York Times published a racist cartoon subtitled ‘India’s Budget Mission to Mars’, the BBC published a widely shared photograph of women scientists celebrating the launch, offering questions about the right to imagine futures that differ dramatically from the present still dominate and filter design discourse.


Superflux is an Anglo-Indian design practice: based in London, but with roots and contacts in the Gujarati city of Ahmedabad. As a collaborative design practice, Superflux work at the intersection of emerging technologies and everyday life to design for a world in flux.
Anab Jain is a Professor of Industrial Design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Her undergraduate degree was awarded by the National Institute of Design (NID), India, and her MA in Interaction Design by the Royal College of Art. As a TED Fellow, Jain is the recipient of several awards, including the Award of Excellence ICSID and Apply Computers, Innovation Award, Chicago International Film Festival and the UNESCO Digital Arts Award. Anab's work has been exhibited at MOMA, New York, Tate Modern, Science Gallery Dublin, V&A Museum, London, National Museum of China and the London Design Festival. She serves on the Advisory Boards of London School of Economic’s media and Communication department, MxTek, and Broadway Cinema and Media Centre, and is a guest lecturer at HEAD Geneva, Royal College of Art, VCU Qatar, Goldsmiths and CIID. 

Jon Ardern holds an MA in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art and his work has been exhibited at the MOMA, New York, and the V&A Museum, London. Jon has been awarded prizes from UNESCO and the Social Design Network, New York. He has lectured at the Architectural Association London, MAD Faculty Genk, Belgium and Kitchen Budapest Hungary. He has been the lead technologist for a series of European wide projects for Snibbe Interactive and has worked for a wide range of open source projects and startups, including the now-famous citizen journalism site Demotix