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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Emerging courses: Product design – the crossroad of science and arts

Design is a subject with a multi-layered definition, it is no surprise that many find it difficult to understand and articulate easily. Even harder, is to plan a future in design and many still wonder - what do these designers really do? what would a student learn in a design course?

New Delhi | Updated: September 22, 2020 6:16:50 pm
emerging courses, online courses, offbeat courses, education news, college admission, top courses after 12,Product designing is an emerging course (Express Photo By Praveen Khanna / Representational)

— Written by Srishti Bajaj

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Inc.

Design is a subject with a multi-layered definition, it is no surprise that many find it difficult to understand and articulate easily. Even harder, is to plan a future in design and many still wonder — what do these designers really do? what would a student learn in a design course? To understand this, here are three critical quotes from famous design minds.

For many, ‘design’ is perceived as just another stream of applied arts, apt for individuals with an ‘artistic’ bent of mind and can sketch or paint. While it is true, designers may use drawing and model-making skills to express their concepts – they are not artists, submerged in acts of self-expression. A designer’s work is not just limited to styling and aesthetics – they are also problem solvers; they work to our everyday life better.

For example, imagine designing a work-from-home chair — it can look phenomenally stylish, but if it does not let you work comfortably or keep your back upright, then what’s the point? To design is to figure out how to make things function and make them look and feel good!

“Design is where science and art break even.” — Robin Mathew, Designer

Designers today are the force behind many products and services of daily use – like toothbrushes, clothes, ceiling fan, shoes, kitchen appliances or utensils, mobile phones, or the food ordering app, even automobiles, and spacecrafts.

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To design such things as part of product designing and user interface designing courses, on will require an understanding of their science – the construction, engineering, material, technique, and usage in order to build, these also require an artistic flair to make them attractive to buy, stylish to flaunt and easy to use.

“Good design is good business.” — Thomas Watson Jr., businessman, second president of IBM

Ever heard of design thinking? Today, many industries and businesses have recognized design and design thinking as a strategic tool and a key differentiator in the innovation-driven marketplace, thus positioning designers as key members of strategy and management teams. Like Jonathan Ive (former Chief Design Officer of Apple Inc.) was able to do, his innovations established Apple as an extremely profitable design-led brand that creates beautiful Consumer Electronics (MacBooks and iPhones), services, and apps (iTunes).

What is product designing?

Being a product designer is a practical and hands-on experience, best learned by exploring and trying out new things and reflecting. It is a collaborative practice that tries to harness varied expertise in order to give the best solution. Designers always strive to create products and services that will have a positive impact on the world.

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Product designers develop a deep understanding of human behaviour and culture, in order to provide effective, innovative solutions. A key skill that is today highly valued is empathy. Product designers use empathy to understand the user and then design to fulfill a particular user need or desire. They ‘design’ or create solutions as per product development processes – from research, conceptualisation, prototyping, production methods, to branding, and marketing; all these skills and knowledge are learnt at college level and honed in the industry.

— The author is head of department product design from School of Design at Pearl Academy

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