Opportunities for the creative

New Arena

Unleash the artist in you through a career in product design, suggests Sandhya Prakash

Industrial or product design can be described as an amalgamation of idea generation, concept development, testing and manufacturing or implementation of a physical object or service. Designers, whether industrial or product, conceptualise and evaluate ideas, making them tangible through products using a systematic approach. The role of a product designer encompasses many characteristics of a marketing manager, product manager and design engineer.

Designers possess skills needed to create products from conception to delivery. Aesthetic sense is important in product creation, along with knowledge of technology, ergonomics, usability, stress analysis and materials engineering. Industrial designers make products ranging from automobiles, airplanes, medical equipment, sports products, ceramics, office or home accessories to other consumer utility equipments.

Design is fast becoming the key to differentiation, premium realisation and brand positioning in many markets. Strategically-managed designs, projects, processes, design-related areas and innovation hold the power to change markets.

Area of work

Product design: The basic skill required for a product designer include generating  innovative ideas, researching popular trends, manufacturing and marketing the products. This vertical produces items such as instruments, toys, electronic goods, etc.

Graphics design: A career in graphic design is a two-way process between a consumer and designer, utilising different visuals, typography, and page layout to create a design meant for the target audience. They also require some specialised skills in design graphics such as photography, interactive design etc.

Industrial design: Industrial design is the service of creating and improving the quality of products and its marketability value. It refers to development of designs for industrial products such as home appliances, cars etc.

Web design: Web design is a newly-developed field. It is a form of graphic design used for creating content in a presentable way to end users of  the Internet. It is different from web programming and web development. Professionals in this field typically create web pages and websites. Apart from being creative, this profession requires professionals to use strategic ideas that will be of use to individuals and companies for marketing.

Game design: It includes designing computer games such as puzzles, animation, and testing. The skills required for a game designer are proficiency in computer usage, creativity, cooperation, and patience to design games that will be a hit in the market. Digital design: The digital designer is an expert in 3-D surface modelling and rendering.

Right from conceptualisation by the product designer, he/she is in charge of building and defining the volume, using accurate and highly detailed surfaces. He/she also handles advanced visualisation tools and contributes to the  decision-making process to finalise the prototype. At the development stage, the designer is the only person with expertise on the product that is being developed.

Eligibility & qualification

Product design is offered at the graduate and postgraduate level. An undergraduate course involves a foundation year, wherein students are given exposure to all the major fields of design – product, graphic, furniture design, interaction and fashion design. One may specialise in one of the fields from the second year onwards. Postgraduation is usually in one of the sub-fields of product design – furniture design, toy design, ceramic and pottery design, lifestyle design, exhibition design, automobile and transportation design. Many also opt for the more interesting and upcoming field of design management — a Master’s course that involves all the above skills as well as management techniques.
For a Master’s programme, the eligibility is an undergraduation in engineering (B Tech, B.Des, B.Arch, B. Interior Design) or an equivalent degree from the 10+2+3 pattern. Selection criteria for some institutes are based on the scores obtained in common entrance exams like CEED, NEED or GATE.

CEED: The Common Entrance Examination for Design is a nation-wide examination conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai (IIT, Mumbai), on behalf of the Ministry of Human Resources Development. The exam tests a candidate’s visual perception ability, drawing skills, design aptitude and communication skills.

NEED: National Entrance Examination for Design is a qualifying examination conducted by a consortium of institutions for admission to undergraduate programmes in design. NEED is conducted by the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, as a nodal agency on behalf of the consortium partners. The institutes that accept NEED are National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, D J Academy of Design, Coimbatore, IILM School of Design, Gurgaon, Indian Institute of Craft and Design, Jaipur, Wigan and Leigh College, New Delhi,  Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore,  and Pearl Academy of Fashion, New Delhi.

Career prospects

Most courses in design provide professional experience, training or an internship during the course of the programme. They may undertake positions such as Chief Designer, Design Department Head, or other supervisory positions in large firms or corporate houses. After establishing a sound foundation in the area of specialisation, one may set up their own design studio.

The Government of India recruits a large number of designers. They may also choose to teach in a design school or university. As a teacher, one has the option to provide consultation or operate small design studios to complement classroom teaching.

Colleges offering design courses

*National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.
*Industrial Design Centre, Mumbai
*IIT— Delhi
*IIT —Guwahati.
*School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi
*NIFT
*Shrishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore
*Raffles Design International, Mumbai
*Centre for Design and Technology, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
*The Ranbir and Chitra Gupta School of Infrastructure Design and Management, Kharagpur
*IILM School of Design, Gurgaon
*Pearl Academy, Delhi
*IICD, Jaipur
*DJ Academy, Coimbatore
*Wigan and Leigh College (WLC), New Delhi

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