Sunday, September 18, 2011

Design as a Career

By Udit Chaudhuri
"Design could make your knowledge into a useful product if you have the passion and method," says Prof Kishor Munshi, eminent design educationist and entrepreneur.

Professor Kishor Munshi has been with the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay since 1975 and an IIT Senate member since 1986. He has been involved in research in the areas of Development Policy, R&D Management, Interactivity, New Product Development, Methodology, Design-Ergonomics Integration and Pedagogy since 1976. Prof Munshi has lectured at various universities abroad; supervised and guided more than 75 product design and development projects in India and overseas; has been a Management Adviser and Design & Development Consultant to more than 40 industries, having developed training programmes on new product development for industrial managers; He is keenly interested in disseminating design thinking as a problem-solving tool. Working in the area of using design as a tool for learning science & technology with user-centricity, Prof Munshi also heads C-Tech Labs (P) Ltd., a joint-enterprise of IIT-B.

1.       How important is it to pick design as a profession as against medicine, engineering, or other vocation?

It is not a question of which one is important. In fact, all disciplines are important in their own ways. 
Design, as I understand it, is unique, in the way that it has humanistic emphasis. When blended with other disciplines, this makes the output more relevant and applicable to society. For example, a health-care product predominantly uses medical and digital knowledge. When blended well with industrial design aspects, this knowledge spawns ‘useful' and 'usable' products. 

Usefulness of any product is an outcome of good engineering, technology and usability, - which is an outcome of good design. All these must go hand-in-hand for a successful product. One must also understand that design is now a mature discipline with specializations of its own; for example, product design, interaction design, visual communication design, mobility design etc.

2.      What qualities should one look for in a student prior to guiding him/her to a specific stream in Design?
Passion for design is an important quality. 
Design should not be chosen just because one can get a lucrative job. Creativity and thinking out-of-the-box is another important quality. A designer should have empathy with the people for whom he/she is designing, and also with the objects being designed.  Keenness to observe, an eye for detail, and an attitude for problem-solving are also important. Above all, a designer should not be afraid of experimentation and failure, and should be more than willing to learn from such failures..

3.      Is there a retirement age for a design professional?
Service rules notwithstanding, a designer never really retires. In fact, thought becomes deeper, observations become sharper and experiments become bolder with maturity, as long as a designer stays active. 
4.      What is the ‘edge’ over others does a student get when he/she graduates from an institution like IDC? 
Design education programme (MDes) at IDC is one of the best. I can say that, as I have taught at many universities/ design schools around the world. IDC has a rigorous admission procedure, which is an edge by itself. Design is more about learning than teaching; and IDC offers that opportunity and environment to the students through its programmes, courses, projects, collaborations and interaction with top design professionals. Product design and mobility design at IDC emphasize on systematic design methodology and research, which gives students an edge compared to institutions where intuitive methodologies are followed. 



  1. What an excellent topics on a Sunday morning. It is now 15 years since I graduated from Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, as an automotive designer. I am happy that I am able to say that I have truly enjoyed every day and every design project since then. You can design anywhere and work on anything. Design opens your eyes and mind to creating value for others and enables you to continuously ask questions and grow.
    Posted by Soren Ingomar Petersen on the
    LinkedIn Group: Design Research

  2. Passion is always there only ....is it the same job
    Posted by Gloria on the
    LinkedIn Group: Design Research

  3. truly agree with Soren, i can see transforming my life from a Electronics engineering mindset to industrial designer, which gives you the power to create where you enjoy and feel responsible or improving others life, currently works for human centered design firm where each day is day for you to rediscover yourself and you might be living and learning from life and delivering for the life...that's the beauty of design...i enjoyed and breathed every bit of it
    Posted by shubham ranjan on the
    LinkedIn Group: Design Research

  4. Being an electrical engineer as well as a post graduate of National Institute of Design (NID)in Product Design... i feel while engineering developed my analytical sense...design kept alive my common sense!


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