Editorial || March 2016

A Young Practitioner’s Perspective on Design

Palak Dudani

Keywords: Design, Design Thinking, Design Research, Education


Design for me started off as a curious adventure and a space for creation and unlimited possibilities, a place where my eye for arts and love for science would find a harmonious co-existence. Compared to the traditional system of education, design education is perhaps most characteristically different in not just its content, but in the way it’s taught. A flexible curriculum and subjective scoring lend themselves to interpretation and space for experimentation, while open-ended courses allow students to explore their own topics. The projects could be as diverse as students’ interests, and it wouldn’t be surprising to have students interpret the same course brief in many different ways (e.g., within a course called Technically Complex Products, one student designed public seating, while another designed blood pressure monitors).

Design finds itself at the cross section of people, technology, and culture, and as they evolve and change, so does design education. What started as an attempt to support our indigenous crafts, design education quickly transformed itself for the modern needs of the global economy, producing design professionals who knew how to make things more useful, charming, and of course, desirable. But perhaps it is a little dangerous when education constantly looks to the industry for validation while guiding young minds to follow suit.

For the longest time, designers have been the magic makers, the make-over artists, the ‘creatives’ who could create desirability. It gets increasingly difficult for one to not be influenced by an economy, which constantly evaluates itself on growth and measures its worth in profits. In this space of design, while there is such careful consideration to everything around us, things somehow only seem to exist in the face of financial gain. I often wondered what kind of designer I wanted to be. Is there a space for those who want to work with the real challenges of the world,  instead of building things for those who probably don’t need them, but want them nonetheless?


The formative years of design school and immersive experiences during my internship, helped me understand that like any other skill, empathy can also be developed, practiced, and honed.

How is a design student different from someone with knowledge of design skills/tools? While school projects teach various important theoretical aspects, they are limited in their ability to teach practical aspects of design learning like observation, research and synthesis for effective problem solving. How does one develop their creative confidence in the convivial bubble of school? Independent projects as well as internships allow for a better exposure to the realities of industry and also a chance to be immersed in the thick of things.

As students, we often talked about empathy, but it wasn’t till I actually worked with different people – speaking and listening to their concerns, that I realised the importance of empathy. The formative years of design school and immersive experiences during my internship, helped me understand that like any other skill, empathy can also be developed, practiced, and honed.

As a young design practitioner, I’ve had an opportunity to work with a diverse set of people and learn tremendously from our collective experiences. Design combines the ability to see multiple perspectives, understand why people do what they do, and solve the real problem in the best way possible. It is a process, a school of thought, and most importantly it can be used as an extremely effective tool. Shaping every aspect of the world that we live in, it’s a medium of action – making us agents of change and impacting the very basics of how people live. As a young designer, there is nothing that excites me more and going by the kind of work we do here at Quicksand, there is no other place quite like it.

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