Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Young Designers of India: Time to Act

Nothing succeeds like success. Talking alone, goes only as far. Economy is bubbling and the new breed of Indian designers is ready to take on the world…just like the last generation. Not only in India but across the world, designers have been talking of changing the world for almost a century. India is on a threshold of change; a tectonic change. It is just about time to stop conferencing, stop talking, stop musing and get going with piercing speed into doing own bit. All this while when economy was waking-up, there was time to philosophize and surmise. Now even if we can implement 10% of what has already been thought, India can prosper and world can benefit.

Everyone knows there are bigger problems in India of illiteracy, water, power etc. etc. Designers should forget about them. Yes, no point yelling for grand purposes if they are not within your reach immediately. Having grand ideas and miniscule power in hand can only make a day-dreamer out of you. Finally one needs a Shahjahan to have the power and money to patronize a grand idea of Tajmahal. Alone the architects and the artists could have achieved zilch. Wait for that turn, keep the hopes alive, converse about the ideas in close forums but in open, just act.

Business today are looking at design finesse; the finesse of skills. Skills that can match the skills gotten by the grand daddies of the design world. Nobody is looking at how many awards you have won, or how many forums you have spoken in…India still needs a person who knows how to draw well; how to visualize the futuristic and pragmatic products; how to articulate the nuances of the consumer sentiments; how to interweave the local concerns with the business needs; and how to convert the wonderful looking digital renderings into a tangible and sensible product through good engineering.

All this will add up to some world class brands from India. Do we know a single brand that speaks globally today? There have been some overtures off late. There lies the next challenge for Indian designers to align with the businesses that have global vision rather than living in the small dungeon playing with narcissistic muses. Every designer should be aware of the ‘sustainability’ concerns, but does not mean that every designer India produces should only cater to ‘craft sector’? Who will build the luxury brands? Who will create the new aesthetics? Who will generate enough money that philanthropy will have a chance? There will be designers and there will be people who create wealth.

Designers should stop talking to fellow designers. Yes, start talking to the world. All the conferences that revolve around good rounds of ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’, would do no good to design tycoons in making. They were good in the years when there was no shoulder to cry on. It is time to gird up our loins, take a knapsack the romp the areas still untrodden.

All these will happen, but no alone. For this, you don’t need to create another forum for designers. I am talking about finding the right patrons; who see value in the design thinking; who see value in a great mind. That is a reality of design world and will remain. Align with the organization that has vision of going beyond the obvious market statistics and that has the eye for details while the working on the mega ideas. Such organizations or individuals are the torch bearers of change in India that will be. Talk to them, try to look out for them, eulogies them, enrich their brand equity, strengthen them in the way you can. That will surely be a step in the right direction, unless you have a will and power to be one of them. Till then, stay quiet and work hard. Smoke less and save energy. You will need it tomorrow.