Designing a better future for India

“A plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment, or other objects before it is made”, displayed Google when I curiously searched for the six-letter keyword ‘Design’. Well, that is exactly what I’d perceived as an outsider. I’d hugely relate the word with Arts and Crafts, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Sketch, Canva, etc. Recently, I realized how wrong my perception was, how narrow a meaning I’d given to the word ‘Design’. As most of us assume, it is not just the aesthetics of a product. Right from our birth, to this moment where you are reading this article, there is design involved.

“To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit; it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify, to dramatize, to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse.”

Paul Rand, Graphic Designer.

The reason why our new car or a mobile phone is better than the one we had before, in terms of accessibility as well as the aesthetics, is a designer behind the evolution who’d carefully evaluated the cons from the old product and had made necessary changes to the new one.

There is a popular misconception that design is a step in making a product, where a designer draws sketches, wireframes to shape the product. No, it is not. It is a process that starts right when the idea of making something pops up. And it never ends.

‘Design’ and ‘India’

India is a country with varied demographics. Something compatible with one set of audience isn’t always relevant to others. Right from the spending capacity, to different geographical conditions, people in India can be sorted into different sectors. A service that is much needed in a traffic prone Mumbai might not be needed in a relatively quieter Coimbatore. A product that is a necessity to a person might seem like a luxury to someone else. It is difficult for the government or the corporate to address this level of diversity.

Also, we often get carried away by new technology and end up damaging the environment. The design adds value to innovation/technology, which is very much needed in a country like India due to its excess population.

A regular day in Delhi

Lack of awareness is a huge concern in India, primarily because of the low literacy rate. Products or services should be designed in a way that they are easily adaptable and do not require huge efforts from the user.

Design for the future of India

Firstly, why should the product exist? What material should be used in making the product? What to do with the product once it’s used? These are a few questions that the designer should always try to answer. India has a shortage of resources. It is indirectly proportional to the population. Hence considering the future, the choice of materials should be a major thing to be looked upon. The possibilities of recycling or reusing must be explored even before making the product. Not only in product design, but these principles should be used in areas like construction, mobility, etc, where space management related problems can be explored.

Two, the economy. India is trying to compete with global front-runners in terms of technology. While ‘Make in India’ is already being focussed, we mostly depend on other countries for designing products, be it a mobile phone, a laptop or television. To enable an independent supply-chain, ‘Design in India’ sort of initiatives will have to be taken up by the government of India.

Three, design education. To enable the above mentioned ‘Design in India’ sort of initiatives, India will have to produce its core set of designers in good numbers. Design education isn’t very common in India. Only specific universities in the country offer these courses. Parents are often unaware of the field and the opportunities. Workshops could be conducted for aspiring students and parents under the ‘Design in India’ campaign, where they could be educated about the course and its importance.

Finally, hyper-personalization. We always like to relate to things. So, personalization is a key aspect of design. Different areas could be explored in our everyday lives where we could personalize a product or a service according to the needs or the likes of a user. This will help the user in getting the best experience out of the product or the service, which at the end of the day is the primary goal of Design.