CII-NID agenda: Designing for a billion customers

The 10th Confedertion of Indian Industry-National Institute of Design (CII-NID) Summit that began in the capital Monday is addressing the complex challenges that designing in India is facing in the 21st century after 50 years of coventional design practises.

The two-day summit that has drawn design experts from across the country is deliberating on the changing customers demography, new design opportunities that mass production can create, setting up of new eco-systems for innovative and cost-effective designs and the scope for unique businesses in the transforming design industry.

Addressing the inaugural session, NID Ahmedabad director Praduymna Vyas said designing for a billion customers has to be inclusive and participatory.
He said innovations in design have to address how one can bridge the divide between economy, ecology and education.

"We are currently overwhelmed with the fast-moving technology. We are trying to create products and services without realising their impact on the society. We have to bring a gamut of people like sociologists, psychologists, technologists and managers who are working independently under one platform so that each can contribute to the direction that design for a billion customers has to take. It will help policy makers carry the process of evolving new design parameters forward," Vyas added.

India, a land of more than a billion people, offers an unprecedented opportunity, he said, adding: "The question is how you harness this huge market."

"The answer begins and ends with understanding people. Understanding of what people want in their lives as well as what they like or dislike about the way things are made, packaged marketed or sold," Vyas maintained.

The NID director advocated the use of information-technology enabled design solutions that could reach the hinterland and cut transportation and overhead costs.
According to Hrridayash Deshpande, director of the DYP-DC Centre for Automotive Research and Studies' director, "growth was an imperative for India".

"Design and design thinking provide the roadmap and tool kit for this radical thinking which is people-centric. Design is essentially a human activity. Besides, aesthetics and style expresses people's aspirations and needs. It channelises expressed and unexpressed needs of the people, Deshapnde said.

Design today has evolved into a strategic tool for structured innovation. It is a holistic and multi-displinary problem-solving approach. At macro-level, there is a strong positive correlation between the use of design and national competitiveness, he said.
In his special address, Fabindia managing director William Bissel said India had missed the first real design revolution.

Almost all of what we see in India was born of the scarcity of thinking of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Indian planners believed that there was a scarcity, everything was in short supply and there was no reason for design. It killed India's great aesthetic tradition, Bissel said.

But with the economy's liberalisation and the presence of a billion young consumers, design will have to redefine itself.

The CII-NID design committee will also brainstorm about design policy changes on the sidelines of the summit.

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