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Design in India

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Let’s design that we really deserve.

Make in India to Design in India

Make in India’ initiative, has been one of the most significant, determined, and result-oriented policy initiatives by any Indian government. It was, well crafted, properly thought through, and focused on ease doing business in India. However, we all know the Ease of doing business in India is not easy. It is plagued by complex labor laws, Land reforms, Individual states agendas, Tussle between political-bureaucratic leadership, and most importantly failed to capture the aspiration of young India. We wanted to identify India as the next best manufacturing hub in the world after China. We thought Factories mean job, Job means livelihood; livelihood means people progress and ultimately economic growth. Job creation is not the only problem but the quality of the job.

The job that pays you well, pays that dignifies, you, Dignity that empowers you.

One of the keys to manufacturing is also design prowess. Highly skilled and innovative labor that can design is a must. We hamper our growth by relying heavily on foreign R&D and design houses. I called it “Vamanvriksha effect” meaning the beautiful bonsai that bears only small flowers and fruits.

China realized that every quickly and made sure it got the best foreign design talent to nurture Chinese designers. It created Design commissions, Design society, Design University, and Design lifestyle policy to promote the idea of design among the masses. The result of this massive push is design-centric customers and brands that have international recognition.

The Chinese brands are setting a new benchmark for several American and European top tier brands. The ingenuity, quirkiness, and awkwardness design taste has started to hit the seventh note now.

My first experience in Chinese design came with a lifestyle screwdriver from the Xiaomi brand. I could not resist the temptation to buy it. How can an electronic brand create such a seductive screwdriver? Not just I even Europeans wherein queue to buy them. That’s when I realized what China has achieved over the years. They learned the power of design from the western world only to make it their own.

We have missed the boat of Make in India, Not that I say we should not catch it. It is a work in progress. However, we can catch the ship of Design in India that is standing on the dock. A large number of engineers and designers are available in the industry. We have to create a perfect synergy between them.

Indian designers are logical and rational creatures. We can comprehend the unsaid needs of the customers. Diversity in our country blesses Indian designers with these strange powers.

Ministry and government agencies must devise policies to harness the design ability of our designers. Give them more impetus to design everything that our country needs. We are yet to design a perfect all-weather paver block pattern given the fact so many people use it.

We all are looking for when we will become a developed nation rather we should look for when we become a design-oriented nation. My business trip to China gave me only one impression it is a design-oriented nation, not just a developed nation. They looked for solutions to the western world and redesigned them completely for their own needs. Some may say here why I am giving high praise to Chinese? Only because despite having a limited understanding of Chinese culture I could find flaws with their design solutions and propose something better.

In house design have a bigger role than just value-engineering

Having an in the house-design studio in India doesn’t mean we are showing empathy towards our customers. Designers are used as tools to hide engineering incompetency and lack of innovative culture. In the name, if value engineering we are focused on reducing cost at the price of user experience. We offer nothing but the only price. The product designed here is only meant to have a business relationship with the customer, no human touch, no story, and no real design.

Many of our Indian products don’t celebrate Indian thought processes, our cultural aspect, and enhance the living experience.

Least of all they only create emotional value in the advertisement, not in real life. Everything is reel life.

Design is a movie that you wish to live but only pretend of having it

In India, high drama and circus take over everything from politics, media, cricket, and now design too. Design is used as a marketing gimmick without any substance. The only new design is re-packaging what was made earlier. Companies invested in design to play only with the emotional attachment that customer shares with the product. There is no deep understanding of what he wants, we are only happy with excel sheet numbers showing the best we can do. There is a lack of drive that we want to change the standard of living of our fellow Indians.

Feed underprivileged food and design. He aspires and works to earn it next time

Design is a drug that your customers should crave for. Instead only value-engineering the design house must find the right balance of affordability and Design tadka aka design spice. Introduce design features, ideas, and concepts that designers feel can create a lot of value to the life of the customer. A failure is an option we can afford for driving desirability among our customers.

If a man fails to desire, he fails to evolve. Nature didn’t evolve us but our desire did

The growing complexity of the economy and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs makes us mum. We need to design for everybody and design is right of everyone.

Design like “ I don't care but i still do”

We lack a grand design ambition as nation . We are afraid that we won’t meet design international standards. We submit ourselves to judgment from the western world. That is the reason why we yet to discover Indian design ethos and concept. I am yet to see the best broomstick or vacuum cleaner designed for Indian needs. Dyson is the best vacuum in the world. Is it best suited for our Indian home conditions? Should we stop ourselves from making the next Dyson? Let’s think big and create an autonomous vacuum cleaner for our homes. This is a kind of approach that we need in design for us. Create the next big thing and disrupt the world. We are constantly chasing the design solutions that are out of trend. One of the reasons I am afraid we will be a developing nation for life.

Countries like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have progressed because they value bringing design to people's life. The best example is of a brand like Miniso Life. The success of this brand in the Indian urban market shows how much people value quality everyday use products. Now people will aspire for quality and well thought designed product. Many small businesses have copied Miniso style but they will be always the me-too brand. The example of Miniso tells us there was an untapped market of everyday lifestyle products. People appreciate how products solve their daily problems and Japanese lifestyle designers can solve them for us. The typical Indian business approach would be that we offer enough and people don’t spend money on expensive things. What businesses doesn’t realize, people pay a premium for quality design that works.

If you think good design is expensive, you should look at cost of bad design - Ralf Spet

NO paper design, we need a design that works

Recently I came across the India design report by CII India. Again, it took comfort in numbers and showed there is so much to design. There is a huge untapped market, many design products we will drive sales and improve the economy. This short-sighted vision presented to politicians and policymakers by design representative is more harmful to our nation in time to come.

Numbers are the representation of the past, they hope to predict the future; they can act as a balm for our anxiety and uncertainty. A predictable future means no future at all. It is an extension of the present.

“The best way to predict the future is by creating it”

The design management is expected to speak the language of business But business we will not speak the language of customers. Design is the voice of the customer. There is no business without what customers want. The best example is one how there is no single Indian Smartphone brand in the market. Chinese brands offered better and most importantly what Indian customers deserve. One of the problems with Indian business is that they don’t want to offer people what they deserve but offer only enough. There is no chance for any Indian company to ever be like Apple, Nike, Tesla, or Philips if we don't do “ Aukat se jyada Umeed se Dugna” meaning more than expected. The only reason top brands do well because they surprise with unexpected designs. They intend to deliver than to only think to care.

Beyond the advertisement into real life. This is where real design is in action.

Indian companies aim to internationalize the design process. We are handicapped to a western designer for Indian design solutions. Sincerely I feel Indian design exists there is a need to articulate and brand it well. We are shy to openly embrace the goodness of our culture can offer.

The Prime Ministers recent address touched me. When he said we look down upon ourselves, history has us made a slave to our defeat mentality and we are quick to adopt what the western offers us. Indian design is all about showing “Umeed se zyada” empathetic design something we intend to elaborate in another article.

The ministry of commerce must dive –deep into understanding how to brand Indian design, What are the values of Indian design, What is the uniqueness Indian designers bring to products, and How Indian designer use cultural references to solve design problems. Rather than focusing on how many design studios in urban areas to other parts of the country. They must focus on the international influence of Indian design.

Design is innate nature to every Indian just like politics. We make things work anyway. Now we need to make things work better and best.

We are tuned to make life better for everyone around us but economies of scale ruined us. Our Vedic scripture is nothing but life design well documented. It is a holistic and comprehensive study of everything in life that goes wrong, if not designed.

So whenever international designers say there is no Indian design, what they mean is we don’t have a new age visual form language through which they can experience indian design or identify as Indian design .we must say to them Indian Gods have no form they are what individuals imagine.

We have not confined to form and its identity but what that form does, The only reason we have millions of gods in this part of the world.

I feel our ancestors were actively involved in design through the idea of gods. Perhaps, to make design a more serious occupation at that time.

Design is a Dharma that Indians have forgotten. The temple or place of worship in India There is a sense of hierarchy, discipline, and design. Design of rituals and empathy towards worshippers. We need that structured approach throughout India. Making people aware of design at the smallest places where it is needed. We got to treat India as “One big Temple.” And One Grand design”

This article is written by Ajay Choudhary, Creative designer, Hyundai design India and is co-authored with Pravin Gaikwad, Head of Design Studio, Hyundai design India.

Pravin is a strong advocate for Design in India, by Indians and for Indians. We wish to run a campaign” Design that Indians deserve” We believe in the ideas presented here in the article. Hopefully the planning commission and chief motivating officer of the nation our prime minister takes note of this.



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