On Design Education in India - notes from the DDEI Conference

Design in India is going through interesting times. While there is the huge demand of designers from the industry, there is a crisis in terms of quality resources graduating out of the existing design schools in India.
In a country of 1.2 billion people there is only around 45-50 Design schools and institutes. (Compare this with Beijing which alone as around 120 Design Schools, Seoul – 80 Design schools, Singapore – 40 Design schools).
Today more people are aware of the role of design and designers in their organizations and the products and services they create. However the quality of designers that they have to choose from remains a concern of many.
Here is the gist of the conference taken from my notes I took during the conference.
1. There is a huge need for Design education to reach out to the other 80% of the Indian population that do not have access to Design education presently.
2. How does Design education come out of its elitist image, and be affordable to a wider audience.
3. Where does India get the faculty to teach Design? This is been a major concern across all Design institutions in India.  How can the teachers be trained as processors who make more socially responsible designers / people.
4. Can the language and grammar of Design in India be around the notion of Innovation for Improvement and towards building an inclusive development of society.
5. Whether the original “India Report” (proposed by Charles and Ray Eames for the establishment of National Institue of Design [1961]) is being followed in the present state of Design education in India is debatable. Many feel it has deviated.
6. Design was at the helm of development in the 1960s (Nehru’s Vision), but then fell behind in the race with engineering and management schools.
7. Design education should not just go for numbers and become like a processing industry, as it would then end up becoming an industry like Engineering schools which produces many unemployable graduates.
8. In the realm of all of these, how do we create design programs that is internationally recognized and takes care of contemporary issues faced by the country (and world) today.
9. Design education in India only recently got some recognition from the government. NID was upgraded to an institute of national importance after 52 years of operation. The Design Policy was launched in 2007. The India Design council was set up only in 2009 to promote Design education and Design across sectors. It is aimed that this body would have the authority to approve Design institutions across India, like the way Council of Architecture (COA) does for Architecture schools.
10. It is important to bring in the notion of Research driven Design into the Design education.
11. With the growth of Technology resource base in India, should that be included into the Design education curriculum. There should be avenues for cross disciplinary collaboration between designers, engineers, management professionals.
12. What should be philosophy for Design education in India going forward, after having gone through the American Styling to European elitism to thinking rationally on larger impact of design?
13. Designers should be taught to design not just in products but as systems (which are informed by the businesses, sociological decisions) and shows the versatility in its outcome.
14. Mentorship in Design education and profession should be promoted to educate about Values in Design.
15. Design education should be like seed farming, and the schools nurture the seeds, which go out and flourish in their own way, creating impact.
16. Design schools should be like incubators.
17. Adopt Design Thinking in Design education that is Multidisciplinary and is informed by Engineering, Classical Design, Social Sciences, Arts, Business Logic.
18. Design education should also look at faculty development in Design to be able to teach design.
19. Design projects should be taken up from real time problems in Cityscapes, urbanization, produce for common people, etc.
20. In the past Design was about making things beautiful, then it was about creating experiences and enjoyable. We would need to start designing for Values.
21. Designers are seen as Conceptor, Conductor, Connector.
22. Design is Logic. Design is Magic. Design is Music.
23. How can designers help convincing the cynical CEOs on the impact of Design.
24. What is the intrinsic, interdisciplinary nature of Design?
25. There has to be a more strategic approach to Design education in India and not get stuck with the craft based approach to Design that India can flaunt.
26. Develop a language and vocabulary for design in India.
27. Design schools should provide designers the knowledge about Safeguarding design and Design rights, and implications of company Shares, stake in creations.
28. Designers need to go beyond the “Us (Designers)” and “They (Business)” paradigm of interacting with communities.
29. There is a huge shortage and need for Designers to become Entrepreneurs.
30. Designers should have a healthy adoption of aesthetics to purely functional designs.
31. It is harder, and okay to take on a real-world problem and fail at solving it.
32. Design solutions cannot happen spontaneously. Ideas can happen spontaneously.
33. Designers need to let go of the expressionist attitude to truthful & honest solutions.
34. It is okay to compromise on highly individualistic experiences (subjectivity)
35. Designers need to get better at technology literacy.
36. Designers should be able to trash their own ideas and critique their works.
37. Designers need to build a strong sense of design rationale to show how the research informed the final design.
38. Product life cycle is very short these days. How do designers address this issue?
39. Can Design adopt Open University approach and use the power of the online medium to impart design education worldwide?
40. Can design education be collaborative in the times of the Internet?

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