Being a graduate of National Institute of Design, meant being hard wired to see Design as a journey with a purpose. It was never just an end unto itself. Never just a beautifier, but always a considered thought, translating into a creative idea, manifesting into an outcome which could enhance lives, communicate a message and deliver results.
A few years ago, as a member of the India Design Council; a government body, to help form Design policies, I went to Japan for an induction training to help launch the India Design Mark, based on the Good Design Mark, of Japan. This visit served as a huge inspiration for me.
Post Hiroshima Japan’s economy was in shambles. In this scenario, the Japanese government understood that key to their economic revival was becoming internationally competitive and encouraged companies to integrate Design skill-sets into their businesses. The Good Design Mark was instituted in 1957 to encourage great Design. And the rest is history!
Other governments of countries like the Netherlands and UK, themselves are huge consumers of Design ranging from public spaces, to architecture, to country branding.
The key insight is that Design was evangelized not by Designers, but by governments and businesses – For profit. And Designomics, a philosophy and platform is exactly that – to help Indian Companies understand and unleash the power of Design as a management tool.
The country is teeming with entrepreneurs. Indian corporates now have global ambitions and competition abounds. The earlier the value of Design is understood as an integral business process and not just as a downstream marketing add-on, the more intelligent, efficient and handsome ROI it can accrue. Design is a value creator first and then a beautifier – form follows function.
Internationally, businesses have been evangelical about embracing Design – Disney, Sony, 3M, Lego, Nike, Airbnb, Pepsi, Muji, Decathlon, are just a few names in a long list.
And then there is Apple, the mother of all Design stories. As a business and a brand, so closely is its existence defined by Design that when their Design director Jony Ives, recently quit, its stock actually fell by 0.7%.
The Indian mindset largely continues to see Design as a cost and not an investment. There are encouraging signs though; a few companies have unlocked the value of design and this short list features names like Titan, Pidilite, Mahindra and Mahindra, Future Group, Godrej, RPG Group and Aditya Birla Group.
The awareness is shifting glacially, but growing. I was recently invited to be on the board of Century Textiles and Industries Ltd., as an independent director. In India, inviting a person from a creative background is very unusual. I was skeptical about my role but was pleased when Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla made it a special point to explain to the directors, the value a Design professional can bring to a business. It is such an encouraging step for the Design community to be understood and by the people that matter.
Today India has a rich community of Designers spanning the entire gamut of Design specializations; from Design Thinking to Strategic Brand Design, Industrial, Textile, Packaging, Digital and many more.
It’s time we put India on the map. It’s time to embrace Design as a Designomist, as you can only profit from it.