Design is a creative problem-solving process used to develop innovative solutions and services to make our lives better. Check the details here. Though design has existed in myriad forms in India since ancient times, it is accepted that formal design education began in 1961, with the establishment of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. Deeply influenced by the pedagogy at the Bauhaus and subsequently, Ulm in Germany prior to and post WW2, Indian design education married the western pedagogical structures with the Indian social ethos. Design is taught at the Undergraduate, Master’s, and Doctoral levels at universities, not to mention hundreds of small design institutes offering vocational diplomats/certificates.
What Is Design
Design, as we say, is a creative problem-solving process used to develop innovative solutions and services to make our lives better. Contrary to the expressionist approach of art, design is strongly focused on the identification of the user and market needs, and thus is a process-centric exercise to develop new and innovative solutions.
The design drives profitability and today, talented designers are highly sought after in all leading organisations across the globe.
In a report published in 2018, McKinsey tracked the design practices of 300 publicly listed companies over a five-year period in multiple countries and industries, interviewed senior business and design leaders, collected more than two million pieces of financial data, and demonstrated that design-led companies grew twice as compared to non-design ones.
This clearly established that design was not just about aesthetics, rather, it was a business tool for growth and profitability.
Design In India Design in India focused on the social sectors prior to liberalisation of the economy and industry post the millennium. Whilst design embraced the industry, designers retained the philosophical bedrock of trying to make the world a better place.
In the following two decades, India has seen a dramatic rise in manufacturing and services, with design as an enabler for product and service creation.
Automobiles, housing, furniture, fashion and apparel, consumer electronics, films, and the media today offer a plethora of options, all differentiated by design, to cater to diverse consumer expectations. Due to the increasing demand for designers, design education has to be agile, relevant, and technology adaptive. By this construct, design education is nimble, practical, hands-on and an ideal mix of theory and practice.
Design Education In India
Design is taught as specialisations – Industrial or Product design (Consumer durables, electronics, medical equipment, furniture, lighting, ceramics), Communication Design (Packaging, print media, graphic design, illustration, branding), Fashion & textiles (apparel, accessories), Space design (interiors, community spaces, heritage experiences, retail), Interaction Design (UI-UX, Human Machine Interaction, Apps, interfaces), Moving images (Film, animation, podcasts) etc.
Design education emphasises learning by doing, a pragmatic model of applying knowledge into practice.
The knowledge taught in classrooms often reflects this pragmatism, with courses ranging from CAD, ergonomics, design theory, history of design, materials, manufacturing, coding, market research, construction techniques, augmented reality, virtual reality, garment construction etc.
At universities, students learn a mix of theory and practicals, culminating each semester with an innovative project that showcases their learning.
Design Schools In India
Unlike traditional courses which are evaluated through exams, most design schools evaluate through juries, where professional designers from the industry evaluate students’ work through rigorous debate. Students have to justify their creations from various angles such as market need, user need, materials and manufacturing, usability, comfort, and safety to name a few. Students are expected to demonstrate novelty through their creations, and this often drives deliberate innovation.
This leads to an in-built entrepreneurial spirit, with many designers opting to start their own consulting firms or labels. There are three traditional exit pathways in design education – employment in studios and large companies, entrepreneurship or solo consulting, and further education.
Design education is strongly influenced by market forces. In the recent past, we have witnessed two Meta forces that have changed the course of human development.
The arrival of the internet in the 1990s and the smartphone revolution in the 2000s have irrevocably altered our way of life, consumption, and behaviours. Technology has allowed us to leap forward, producing new objects, content, and services at a blistering pace.