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Information Experience Design (MA)

Devanshi Rungta

​​Devanshi Rungta is an interdisciplinary designer and entrepreneur based in London with roots in Kolkata, India. Her creative approach is informed by her Indian heritage and a relentless desire to experiment. She is known for her focus on interactivity, accessibility, and community involvement, extending the reach of art beyond conventional spaces.

She co-founded Art Rickshaw, a multifaceted creative platform offering diverse art classes and workshops, serving as a gallery and a launchpad for artistic products. She also spearheaded the launch of Kalfest, Eastern India's premier street art festival, reinforcing her commitment to public engagement in art. Collaboration is at the heart of Rungta’s practice, often involving artists, designers, craftsmen, and technicians in her projects. Her work is grounded in a critical analysis of various discourses, with a firm belief in the power of immersive narratives. Rungta uses storytelling, exhibition design, and user-centric interactive experiences to place the audience at the centre of her creative process.

Selected Works:

MYcorrhizal - IRCAM forum 2023, Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR (2023)

Boundaries of Existence - Metaverse Art Project Grant, Art Council Korea, London, UK (2023)

Catalyst - Co-designer for the multimedia installation for the Textile Circulatory Centre of research-Royal College of Art, Regenerative Fashion Hub, The Lab E20 London, UK (2022)

A Room with a View - Co-designer for multimedia sensory installation, LG-Royal College of Art, LUMINOUS competition, Old Street Gallery, London, UK (2022)

Guise - Bath Fringe Art Festival, Bath, UK (2022)

Picture taken during workshop at RCA

As an interdisciplinary designer passionate about accessibility and community engagement, I am actively delving into the power dynamics within museums and their impact on communities. I recognise that museums, as they stand, are political entities with the power to shape our understanding of history and culture. They do this through their functions—collecting, preserving, interpreting, and displaying objects.* However, this authority can often lead to an imbalance, marginalising certain voices and bolstering dominant narratives.

My project aims to navigate this landscape by scrutinising the very tools and methodologies that uphold these dynamics. I'm keen on reinterpreting these aspects, relocating them into a 'third space' that is more equitable, decentralised, and relatable.

I am committed to investigating the capacity for reimagining museums as democratic, community-centric spaces. My research is aimed at unveiling effective, actionable strategies that can level the playing field within these cultural institutions, enabling a wider array of voices to be heard. It is my intent to provide tangible methods for disrupting entrenched power dynamics in order to create a more equitable cultural landscape that truly reflects the diverse fabric of our communities.

*The Politics of Museums (New Directions in Cultural Policy Research), Clive Gray

Overview of The Personal Shrine Project

Concept Note

By embracing the philosophy of museums and reinterpreting the tools they use to display authority, this project seeks to democratise these processes, with the goal of highlighting stories that are created by, perspectives representative of, and objects relevant to the people. This involves deconstructing museological and curatorial methodologies to promote a more inclusive and accessible experience.

"The Personal Shrine Project" attempts to do this by creating a framework that comprises of a unique storytelling workshop designed to activate participants to become "mini-curators" of their experiences, providing a safe space for them to explore their individual identity while establishing a broader communal identity. This is done by sharing aspects of their personal stories through emotionally significant objects.

GIF explaining the context of my project
Key Design Outputs
Images from Workshop
GIF explaining contex

The interest in developing this framework comes from a deep dive into museum objects and collections. Through various stages of sharing, reflecting, and creating, the workshop demonstrates the potential of combining storytelling and visual arts to engage communities and craft meaningful art that can serve as personal shrines. Preserving these unique stories is vital for maintaining a richer understanding of community history and ensuring its legacy for future generations.

Personal stories evolve as individuals and communities reinterpret their experiences. We must be ready to engage with these changing narratives and adapt accordingly. Workshops offer a dynamic model for embracing these shifts, fostering dialogue on themes such as identity, memory, and culture. By exploring commonalities and differences among cultures, we can promote respect and appreciation for diversity. Holding workshops outside traditional museum settings allows organisers to reach diverse participants who might not have access to or feel comfortable visiting museums.

Workshop Overview
GIF of elements in the process

Design Rationale

Why objects?

Museums have been preserving culture by displaying and interpreting objects since the 18th century. In the workshop, objects act as conduits to stories, as companions that participants bring into the space, aiding in the expression of their narratives in an attempt to reveal the hidden histories embedded within them. Tying back to the concepts of material culture, memory and echoing Walter Benjamin's fluidity in objects, we explore how ownership allows us to imbue objects with personal meaning. Pedagogically, these objects contribute to our sense of belonging and serve as memory catalysts that can be inter-generational.

Why Themes? 

Influenced by Professor James Clifford's idea of 'museums as contact zones', our workshops aim to build a communal identity through shared stories and objects. This approach, mindful of the Social Identity Theory, encourages understanding and empathy across cultural lines, mirroring David Barrie's perspective on museums as tools to understand humanity.

Why Shrines?

The project draws on the concept of a shrine, rooted in the tradition of museums as sacred spaces preserving historical relics. Tracing back to the origins of museums as cabinets of curiosities, it aims to democratize this space. Participants are encouraged to self-archive and curate personal cabinets with their valuable objects, akin to creating their own shrines. By encouraging participants to create their own shrines, it attempts to democratize the process of cultural preservation - moving it out of the exclusive realm of museums into the hands of individuals within communities.

Why Pedestals?

Traditionally, pedestals in museums symbolize authority, often legitimizing particular narratives. Our project disrupts this by using pedestals to elevate ongoing, evolving personal stories, challenging the notion of a single historical narrative. In our workshops, everyone has a pedestal to elevate their story, fostering a sense of community and shared emotion, reminiscent of sociologist Émile Durkheim's concept of 'collective effervescence'. We aim to explore how this act of elevation alters perceptions and imbues objects with new value.

How are We Collecting?

The workshop fosters a trusting and respectful space for sharing personal narratives. Emphasizing ethical practices in collecting stories, the workshop respects individual autonomy and consent. I aim to archive these narratives digitally, with full recognition of the importance of ownership and consent, giving participants the reins over the collection and sharing of their stories.

Visit our digital archive:

Workshops conducted snapshot

Why a Workshop?

Workshops are dynamic platforms that adapt to the evolving nature of personal stories and community experiences. They offer an inclusive space, reaching diverse participants beyond traditional museums. Tailored to small groups, the workshop attempts to foster a safe, intimate environment, allowing for constant learning and adaptation through feedback.

StoryboardWorkshop Storyboard

Key Readings

  • "Material Culture and Mass Consumption" by Daniel Miller
  • "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" by Walter Benjamin
  • "Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century" by James Clifford
  • "The Elementary Forms of Religious Life" by Émile Durkheim
  • "Museums in the Digital Age: Changing Meanings of Place, Community, and Culture" by Susana Smith Bautista
  • "Cabinets of Curiosities: Collections and Collecting in Early Modern Europe" by Paula Findlen
  • "Social Identity and Intergroup Relations" by Henri Tajfel
  • "Museums: A Place to Work, Planning Museum Careers" by David Barrie
  • "Museums, Objects, and Collections: A Cultural Study" by Susan M. Pearce
  • "Museums and Their Communities" by Sheila Watson

Special thanks to collaborators & workshop participants: Art Rickshaw, Kolkata; Teach for India and Daffodil School, Kolkata; Masbro Community Centre, London

Design process & evolution


During the materialization of my research, I discovered a significant connection to the ancient Indian storytelling box, the Kavad. Used for years by artists to narrate folk tales, it became symbolic to a museum for me, serving as a storytelling device, a portable shrine, and bearing a structural resemblance to a cabinet.

Key milestones drove the design object's evolution within the workshop format. The goal was to distil and simplify the object, retaining only the most meaningful parts and continually questioning the role of each element and material used.

process sketches
Designed object
Making and experimenting process
gif of protoypes
GIF of books
Toolkit Design for participants

Design Rationale:

Material: I opted for paper and paper board due to their tactile qualities and their potential to act as a blank canvas. The paper's pliability offers participants the flexibility to use as many panels as they want and remove any extras with ease.

Hinges: Traditional metal hinges were replaced with living hinges or an accordion-style fold. This change allows more room for creativity, letting participants fold their books as they wish.

Layers: Despite being 2D, the design introduces depth, offering a three-dimensional experience. This approach enables participants to reveal their narratives layer by layer, either linearly or non-linearly.

Book Slot: Rather than a permanent fixture on the pedestal, the design incorporates a book slot. This lets participants place their crafted stories on the pedestal themselves, enhancing the sense of ownership and interaction.

Pedestal: The box's base was redesigned to more closely resemble a traditional pedestal, serving as a political tool that elevates the stories placed upon it.

Wood: Chosen for its softness and stability, wood lends structural strength to the design. The wooden components' sides are cut at 45 degrees, enabling them to be glued together for seamless edges and enhancing the aesthetic appeal.

Process of transformation of blank pages into beautiful storybooks
Process of transformation of blank pages into beautiful storybooks

Special thanks to -

RCA Mentor:

  • Gian Luca Amadei
  • Kristina Cranfield
  • Danielle Barrios-O'Neill
  • Carolina Ramirez-Figueroa

RCA Technicians:

  • Annie Richardson
  • Gorgi Salapanov
  • Paul Booth
  • Gemma Squires

Team in India:

  • Art Rickshaw team
  • Subhash Halder & team
workshop at rca

Click to view Documentary

Location: RCA White City, Garden House, London

Audience Profile:

  • Gender: mixed group
  • Age: early to mid-20s
  • Occupation: students 
  • Interests: keen on critical engagement and regularly use visual methods of self-expression
  • Language: English-speaking, albeit not as a first language
  • Nationality: diverse nationalities and cultural backgrounds

Special thanks to all the participants who joined & shared their stories and Sunghoonsong for Documentation

workshop at art rickshaw

Click to view Documentary

Location: Art Rickshaw Studio, Kolkata

Audience Profile:

  • Gender: all female
  • Age: varied, from young adults to women in their 40s
  • Occupation: mixed, including journalists, housewives and students
  • Interests: generally not involved in art and crafts
  • Language: English-speaking, albeit not as a first language
  • Nationality: Indian but from different sub-cultural backgrounds

Special thanks Art Rickshaw Team and to all the participants who joined & shared their stories, and Arunopal & Laly for Documentation

workshop at school

Click here to watch Documentary

Location: Ummeed Community Center, Kolkata

Audience Profile:

  • Age Group: 8 to 12-year-olds
  • Occupation: school children (Dafodill school)
  • Socioeconomic Background: low-income households
  • Living Conditions: exposure to violence at home and in their communities
  • Cultural Background: diverse
  • Language: English not first/native language

Special thanks to TFI Fellow Kasturi Ray for her support and all the participants and fellows who joined & shared their stories, and Arunopal for Documentation


Location: Masbro Community Centre, London, UK

Audience Profile:

  • Age Group: 60 to 80-year-olds
  • Occupation: various professions
  • Reason for joining: looking to the community for support
  • Cultural Background: diverse
  • Language: English not first/native language

Special thanks to Manager Tina Woods for her support and all the participants who joined & shared their stories, and Ijya Ray for Documentation

craft stories

An early experiment involved collaboration with craftsmen from Kolkata, India. Responding to the need to preserve individual narratives within craft communities, a workshop was conducted with artists and craftspeople practising traditional art forms like Patachitra and Madhubani. These intricate crafts, often depicting epic myths and legends, risk losing the stories of the very artists who create them.

To counter this, a space was crafted where the artists could document their personal narratives using their craft. This was facilitated by designing a workshop module, providing prompts and tools to help express their stories. The experiment culminated in a collection of five diverse narratives, each crafted by an artist sharing their unique story through their craft. 

Special thanks to the artists: Deepak, MD Osman Ghani, MD Moymur Hussain Ghazi, Rabin Chitrakar, Shambu Nath, Subhash Halder, Sunaiyani Manna

kids workshop

Workshop Approach: Deep Observation > Facilitation > Independent Learning

This workshop was an experiment to harness 'social-emotional learning', inspiring young participants to fill the Kavad Box with their personal stories. The workshop created a secure space for participants to express memories through meaningful artefacts. The aim was to promote accessibility, ownership, and agency using tools such as storytelling and crafting. 

Special thanks to Ektara Community Centre, co-facilitator Chandranath Saha, and Arunopal & Laly for the Documentation





1.2 m by 1.2 m by 2 m