There is no creation without originality. A strong statement and maybe it is true. But what if I work upon someone’s idea. Is that design? Is that creativity? Opinion could be divided on that subject. Take example of a person who retouches images and makes them into something beautiful and different from what they were. Doesn’t this person need lots of creativity? Or take example of a CAD artist who uses someone else’s creative thought (Read 2D sketch) to make it into a real life like example. I would call the second one”translators”. But they are all called “designers”. At least in this part of the world. Maybe they are part of a larger design process, cogs in the wheel to the process.Below is my cog-to wheel “design”. I call it design because it is a “drafted drawing”, #D produced. But it is not mine. It gets its identity from the eternity ring concept, perhaps developed by some ingenious marketing campaign to rake up diamond sales. Nor is the placement of the diamonds;the design, mine. I took it from a book. What I did was to translate the drawing into a 3D.
Apple’s new iphone. Will it make a difference in India compared to other competing brands? The colours seem fresh and new; but for Apple. Fashion history has seen that bright colours like neon are generally short lived trends which last for a couple of years in the classic “fad” phenomena. They peak during their popularity period and then rapidly decline. Remember acid tones, which gained popularity a decade back? Once the fad reached the streets, it quickly exited along with bell sleeves and platform heels. While acid tones have a neutral association, apart from the fact that they look hideous on the majority colour complexions in India, neons don’t have plenty of good associations either. To the typical Indian mind, they are generally associated with bars and night clubs, which is not a very classy association for a premium product. While a niche audience may be willing to experiment with the new phone, the masses may not be comfortable with the phone especially given the estimated price tag of around Rs. 40,000. For a fashion colour. And that too for a plastic body phone. I feel Apple is somewhat lost in It’s positioning with a style and price mismatch for the Indian audience. A new colour is hardly a wow factor, neither is the price alluring. Add to that an operating system that the Indian market is still in learning stage. I don’t see this going much ahead.
The news of the Microsoft and Nokia deal has been all over since yesterday amid skepticism and perhaps even criticism. Odds seem heavily stacked against the prospect. Nokia which had been the market leader in cellphones in India for many years, had recently been replaced by Samsung on the top spot. But inspite of that, Nokia still has one of the best brand recall in the country upto the interiors of India.
Some years back, when Nokia was still placed as the global leader in cellphone space, I had the good fortune of meeting researchers from their labs. As I was then heading the Accessories department in Delhi NIFT, my immediate thought was to get our students learning fashion accessories to be involved a short project that NOKIA labs was then conducting in India. So while the rest of NIFT was on summer vacation, a group of our students and some faculty got the opportunity to be part of the process of understanding the Indian market as part of a larger “Future Urban Project”.
It was then we were sensitized to the various in-depth research methods that mobile phone companies employ and amazed by the future oriented outlook that NOKIA had. While Android has undoubtedly taken over due to its ease of use, the understanding that NOKIA has about local markets such as India, gained from systematically studying the ethnic intricacies and their needs is something which may give it competitive advantage in its new story, especially in the emerging markets.
Microsoft too is a household name in India, so this deal might be one to watch out for in the long run.
Design is a relatively new field compared to Art. But with new technology and changing world there are 5 things that I learned (and later taught) at D-school which seem to have lost their relevance in today’s world and have become “Old School”.
1. If you can’t draw it, you can’t make it.
Nothing can be a bigger myth. This seemingly innocent statement that teachers use to encourage their fresh pupils to practice more drawing has lost its relevance compared to the Corel and Rhino equipped generation of today. Not only is hand drawing a skill that is used less and less, most exploratory work is done hands on or with CAM, rather than on paper.
2. Don’t use eraser, Don’t use scale.
Another Myth. It was fine till the first few lessons of drawings. Or in the era when you had ample time to sit and sketch endlessly by hand and communicate hand drawn designs. But beyond that, a clear representation of ideas is more important and so if it requires eraser and scale, so be it. Afterall it’s a now a “pre-sketch” for your CAD .
3. It should be your original idea.
It times of Co-creation, collaborative projects and open innovation; an individuals idea may be lacking compared to the richness a project gets from collaborative work which is designed by a community. A single individuals contribution could be worked upon and made better by others as well and no one person takes credit for the entire process. To think of it, an idea is only successful if others also believe in it!
4. Follow the process. Show the process.
While it may be a great idea to show a process in order to explain your final design to an international jury for getting an award and for other such events, Design methods can be very limiting and restraining, unless you allow them to be iterative and continuous. Most common people are not equipped to understand a design method, they can only appreciate the result and you can bring that to them any which way.
5. It’s all in the presentation
In a world of presentation , this is an understatement. The presentation is not a separate activity. It is not something you do afterwards, after the design process has ended. The presentation IS the design and part of the process and you don’t need to do many things to justify it if what you came up with is a great product!
Naming your product is that interesting part of design where all your thoughts and inspiration find a culmination in a physical object (or service). When some of us jumped into the dot-com bandwagon in the late 90’s, most of the names were taken. Finding the domain availability was the challenge. Most simple words had been registered by squatters who seemed to have made a business from the name game. Finding a name which was unique and available in a .com was very important for most business.
I tried various permutations of design, concept, idea. But alas, all were taken! I tried initial experiments with a very exotic sounding name “conceptuelle”. A compound of concept and “elle” ( french for she ). We found the availability and registered immediately. But looking back today, I feel that my choice is amusing. It was a foreign sounding name for our mostly Indian clients…
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