Three decades back when I plunged into industry as a new design graduate with creative confidence and dreams quite high, I had limited realization of the way world looked at design compare to the way we were taught at NID, my Alma mater. As young designer riding high on empathy, it was dreadful experience to have people reach out to you for only window dressing or beautification of a product.

Then, I had very little idea that someday design would become an integral tool to business solutions. As a designer riding high on empathy you always want to see the world a beautiful and better place to be. Design is not only about aesthetics, aesthetics alone do not make the world beautiful but design does.

In most of my conversations outside design community and creative industry I have found design to be greatly misunderstood and only perceived as means of beautification.

Emergence of new lifestyle, new consumer and a need for stronger interface between “things and beings” has also created a need for looking at everything around us with a newer perspective. What was “happening” is redundant, what was once “sort” is gone? The consumer of our generation has become immigrant of the virtual world while the new generation consumer known as millennial and centennials are new natives of this emerging world.

This new generation consumer has a speed driven by technology which is difficult to match. With technology comes change, change at a speed unimaginable to many of us. This continuous change is redefining how we want to look at our lifestyle, the spaces we live in, relationships we build and the jobs we take-up.

The current industry is ready to shift shape; we have transitioned to an unpredictable space. Specific skill sets will enable you to enter a work force but only transferable skill sets and innovation can help you sustain the growth.

Why a designer practicing design process/design thinking succeeds better at defining solutions for any given problem in any business context than someone with very linear approach does? It is because the whole process gets driven by empathy as core value and has involvement of all stake holders.

As an educator if I am designing a solution for my students, the solution is bound to fail if they along with other stake holders do not innovate this collaborative solution.

Till a decade back it was expected as a teacher to be in the class downloading all your information on a subject to your students through lectures. Today’s’ student is not looking for such download, has no need for such download as he has multiple sources of information. What a student needs is knowledge to filter the most appropriate information which means the teacher is no more the only source of information but one such source of information.

The teacher needs to transform into a facilitator for acquiring, channeling and producing right output through collaborative learning environment; Design learning is best applied in such environments. With seamless technology becoming second skin to this new learner, the tools and modalities of design learning too have changed drastically; classrooms from being driven by teachers/mentors are now enjoying flipped approach. Virtual class rooms are as active and bursting with conversations and discussions as any other physical space. Assessments and feedback are becoming more and more students centric and collaborative in nature, mentors feedback is as important as peer to peer review.

Trans-disciplinary approach in design learning is the only way out to have transferable skill sets required for this new shape shifting industry and world at large. Design schools having very linear focus will have to gear up towards being “student ready” and the ones who encourage 360 degree learning will have to re-look at not just the content but also the new approach design has taken for itself.

To sustain itself, every business today needs innovation; right design education will empower a student to be an effective innovator.


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