india vs. australia

this is not a cricket match that i’ll be writing about. especially, after what Warney did in the now-so-infamous IPL, and India’s back-to-basics spite in the matches that followed, it just isn’t worth time. plus there’s no match going on right now…so there can be no update heh!

instead, my idea was to give a slight comparative account of the way students design in the two places…or atleast are encouraged to.

disclaimer: the author is, by no means, an authority on design, design process, design thinking and all that jargon. nor is the author an authority on how things go around in India or Australia. the author is a student studying design, having finished a year in India & barely two weeks in Australia.

so…its all in the brief!!! having done projects & competitions back home, and now working on projects here, i see that there’s a world of difference in the way students are briefed about a particular task. for example, a project called zerocar (i’m out to render my fellow transportation designers jobless hehe…but it isn’t all that scary you know) had an intense 4-hour long briefing session! compare it to the National Automotive Styling Challenge, where the brief was “to design a truly Indian vehicle” – four hours vs. four words!

while both practices have their own pros & cons attributed to them, its the difference that matters in the long run. on one hand, we have an intricately designed brief with set directions to think, while on the other hand, we have a practice that encourages us to think!!!

what follows the brief is a defined methodology of working. again, there’s a difference that arises. this time, it’s in the way milestones are defined. the milestones give a precise definition of what has to be done. giving a project one month to finish leaves everything up to the student, whereas breaking that one month into four weekly milestones tightens up the focus on priorities.

what i’m getting at is the bigger picture. India is a potential design hub of the future. industrial design is still in a very nascent stage in India. if India has to live up to the promise of being the design hub, we need to look at the way established nations work in industrial design. “Indian design” always involves some archaic aspect of Indian culture, taking “inspirations” from the historic, spiritual, cultural diversities that India has to offer. yet, the designs that run on the roads are done in “foreign” studios. is it because of the difference at the fundamental working level?

students studying industrial design at this time in India, have a precious opportunity ahead of them. when India assumes that title of “design hub”, it’s these designers who will matter. it, therefore, becomes a matter of utmost importance for them to see how the process works in places like Australia, Italy, Germany, USA – nations that have already established themselves in the field of design. it’s also equally important that students take things at the systems level, and not blindly “style” at the component level. the Melbourne tram network is something i’d like to state as an example for a well-designed system. back home, the Delhi Metro is another example.

humans, instinctively, like things simple. this obviously doesn’t mean we design another abacus, but it could surely mean that we, as transportation designers, design a system with a user-centric approach, and THEN focus on aesthetics. after all, there’s a saying, “technical skill is the mastery of complexity – design is the mastery of simplicity


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