Dimensions of Design – BW Education

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The reason why this field has risen to prominence is that it solves multiple daily problems of people and improves quality of life through innovative products and experiences.

Low-floor buses that allow small children, elderly people and people in wheelchairs to easily board the bus; furniture that takes up limited space and serves multiple purposes (which has proven so useful during the lockdown period, with limited space at home); the mixers and mixers that make life easier for the one doing the kitchen chore, they are all the result of someone’s concern to improve the lives of others. There was a problem, this person not only understood the problem, but also thought of a solution and designed a product. That’s a designer’s job, and with his problem-solving approach, some great user-friendly designs have emerged.

In India, from about the 1960s, with the launch of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and the Center for Industrial Design in IIT Bombay, the movement for great designs gained momentum and is now a field of study and popular career. Praveen Nahar, Director of NID-Ahmedabad, says: “Many design movements around the world are as old as NID. Design as a profession also emerged when we established NID in India.

A design is not just about beauty or aesthetics, although that is always an added benefit. But the central function of design is functionality – improving everyday life through better thought out products. A piece of furniture that is nice to look at but gives you back pain is a waste of resources. A plain-looking build space may look unappealing, but it could have the perfect ventilation for the season.

Aditya Lingam, a faculty in the design department of the Global Institute of Design, Gandhinagar, offers another perspective and attributes the growing emphasis on design to the personalized demands of consumers, and people are becoming very specific about what they want. He adds that the emphasis on R&D within the country, with a view to self-sufficiency, is also driving this change.

Also central to the design community is the ecological footprint and Praveen Nahar from NID talks about designing services rather than products so that there is less consumption. “There’s also the broader concept of how you design services rather than products. This is a major shift, where instead of buying a product, we buy a service, so that we don’t need so many products, like renting a car or having community washing machines,” he says.

Today, design has various dimensions. A large number of areas of study have emerged, some of which may also overlap. Some of them are:

• Fashion, clothing, accessories, shoe design

• Textile design

•Product design

• Automotive design

• Space and exhibition design

• Communication design (such as graphics and animation)

• Information design

• User experience design

•The design of the game

The last two are especially gaining popularity. User experience design involves getting a grip on a product, checking its usability, and also branding it. Game design is used not only for entertainment, but also for digital educational tools.

Institutes

Besides the design mecca that is the Ahmedabad-based NID, several NID branches have opened, including in Gandhinagar, Bengaluru, Kurukshetra, Bhopal and Jorhat.

The fashion technology hub that is the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) with its multiple centers, offers courses in fashion design, leather design, accessory design, fashion communication and clothing production, among others.

Design courses are now offered by several IITs. Besides Mumbai, design programs are also offered in Delhi, Kanpur and Guwahati, and the IIT-BHU launched an architecture, planning and design department a few years ago.

Communication design is also offered by universities like Jamia Millia Islamia, Sayajirao University, Vadodara and university-affiliated colleges like College of Art, New Delhi. Design programs are also offered by private institutes like Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Pune; Unitedworld Institute of Design, Gandhinagar and Amity School of Design, Noida.

Interdisciplinary approach

Joining vocational training at an early age does not mean starting to work in silos. The discipline draws not only from engineering and technology, but also from the social sciences. Interaction with someone from a host of disciplines and an open mind to absorb the environment is extremely crucial for your own growth. As Aneesha Sharma, HOD, Department of Design at IIT-Delhi puts it: “Design is inherently interdisciplinary. At its core, it’s user-centric,” adding that understanding the psychology of the user is involved, as well as an understanding of the hardware. Pratul Kalita of IIT Guwahati says, “We apply a lot of contemporary research like ethnography. Based on this research, in the Indian context, we need to come up with solutions. The requirement for aptitude is expressed effectively by Manasi Kanetkar, assistant professor of design at IIT Gandhinagar, when she says, “You definitely have to be a team player. You need to appreciate what each stakeholder would want. You need to come together, be versatile in terms of perspective, and see the big picture. And you have to go into the smallest details at the same time. Details matter.

Training method

This is a hands-on course, focusing on hands-on learning and projects, rather than lectures. The evaluation is done by jury following the submission of your project. The Covid-induced lockdown was a litmus test, but the design fraternity as a whole was quick to come online. “At first, it was difficult to explain to students how the different materials work. We first had to try the alternatives ourselves, to be able to explain to the students,” says Aditya Lingam. Demos were posted online and students were encouraged to use locally available materials to come up with innovative designs. At IIT Guwahati, a student from Bihar shared that stuck in his homeland, he ended up making a simple tool to extract the singhara crop from ponds.


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