Why do I love to Design for India?
Published on July 23, 2018
INDIA as soon as you start talking about it ..the diversity is felt. It is the land where stories talk through time. Black pottery to Blue Pottery…Khadi to Kanjivaram… Lota, Matka … each element has a design story…the more I explore the more design here demystifies me and reveal some secrets that form my design fundamentals at THE DESIGN WAY.
Let me share a small story to tell you why I love to design for India… I worked in the medical industry where I had to handle machines, equipment’s and devices used in hospitals. In a day, more than 250 to 400 odd OPD patients would walk in for scans, tests and various medical procedure. The devices used were all imported from various countries, no doubt on the quality…Only one question popped my mind was it designed for India???
The automated devices cracked down many times due to the number… Environmental differences like heat, dust, humidity, rains, infrastructure, lack of water, electricity… frustrated staff handling the devices, people and procedures. I wanted to find some solution here…
One solution was hidden in the Lewin’s Equation that Behavior is a function of the person and his or her environment. Same Indian litters and spits around here in India but behaves highly sophisticated when in a foreign country. I used this idea to differentiate my design and my products for India and was amazed to see the results.
There was Lack of empathy in the system and I wondered why? Imagine you having to deal and answer so many sick patients a day …doctors were overworked as the doctor patient ratio is not good in India…population is acting as an evil number game and hence I question till what level can you empathize and understand the pain?
Empathy meant the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. All great designers always taught to start by understanding the feeling of pain that the users go through their experience. I have my way trust me for eg. Being in truck drivers seat for 2 hours to understand his pain or talking to 5 of them, being blind folded for few hours to understand lack of sight is just the beginning to this phase. Empathize till you reach the point of understanding or feeling of the real pain. Be blind folded for 3 days to understand what it is to be sightless and their difficulties to perform daily chores and live life. Please remember not to sympathize with the people and their problems but to empathize purely to understand the problem you are solving and that will help to make your designs better.
I love to look at design as an activity to solve the problems of our times with tremendous service, audacity, humility, dignity & love. Keeping in mind with the environment & ideology of people for whom you are design. To Design for India is surely a challenging task in my opinion. Designing for Scale, Diversity and Beliefs…all at the same time. Hence I LOVE it. Brainstorming here is quite a task.
Some ideas failed due to lack of acceptance…some failed due to lack of discipline… some due to the history of the society dynamics and majorly due to self-sympathy that the people here have developed for themselves over the few decades…How could you solves such problems and issues in the society with design?
We were designed to operate in very specific conditions. Take that machine designed for one kind of condition – rains– and put it in another condition – the desert, and it won’t operate as well. It might work, it just won’t go as easily or as well as if it were in the right conditions. What too many designers today fail to appreciate is that it’s not the people that are the problem. The people are fine. Rather, it’s the environment in which the people operate that is the problem. Get that right and things just go. In Human Centered Design approach, my next learning was to tweak the environments around to make people have better experiences.
Often people associated design with artifacts, things and aesthetics. But today it opens this space to include services, experience and engagement. Thinking like a designer has expanded into all the realms of business, finance and healthcare. Some of the best managers are design thinkers. And now is time to use all this understanding to improve systems. I was born and brought up in India so I understand the environment, people, culture and beliefs hence it is fun to come up designs that are purposeful and may help to change for better. It’s really time to get over the sense of foreign things being better, because they’re not. It has been proven again and again. If you think like a designer, then you understand what’s meaningful to people here and you will try and deliver it to them.
Quality was no more the benchmark of competitiveness as every business could access the same technology, materials & processes for manufacturing. At this point, the role of design in India changed from being at the periphery of development to utilizing knowledge based on technology & markets for finding holistic solutions that worked towards affecting differentiation through design. Make in India movements are supporting this idea.
Designers assumed the role of creating collaborative, participatory and even co-creative opportunities between people & businesses. Designers were no more needed to just design objects, services or identities. They proved themselves capable of designing processes & systems to make better sense out of any eco-system. Design thinking was getting accepted as a progressive way towards creating value… It is up to the business community to get their faces out of their smartphones and look around them, interact and absorb and find what’s meaningful to people and begin delivering new things of great value in an Indian context. It will be fabulously successful, with enormous value. Create Designs that are of value to India