When Prime Minister Modi addressed the nation to kick-start Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan (self-reliant India campaign), during COVID, for the domestic production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), he was taking his 2014 ‘Make in India’ flagship campaign a step further - devised to transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub.
The ‘design’ domain that is central to this campaign of boosting domestic manufacturing is - industrial design – the professional practice of planning products, devices, objects, and services. With the government’s focus on manufacturing, industrial designers are much in demand as firms are increasingly eager to innovate to remain competitive.
Today, industrial designers form a part of a multidisciplinary team made up of strategists, engineers, User Interface (UI) designers, User Experience (UX) designers, project managers, branding experts, graphic designers, customers, and manufacturers, all working toward a common goal. This collaboration allows the team to fully understand an issue, craft a solution that responds to the unique needs of the user.
Before industrial manufacturing, everything was a unique handmade object. Only when mass production began, large quantities of identical objects, from clothing to cars were created. Industrial designers became the force behind this revolution. Designers have always found ways to make things cheaper and aesthetically pleasing to the masses, like creating new models of cars or improve the ergonomics of a chair or computer keyboard. During the ideation phase, designers sketch, render 3D models, create prototypes, and test ideas. They make, break and rebuild prototypes to understand how a product would work, look, and could be manufactured. In the final stages of the process, they work with mechanical engineers, material scientists, manufacturers, and branding strategists to bring their ideas to life through glib production and marketing. It is desired that industrial designers have a bachelor’s degree in either engineering or production. Masters’ courses are available at top design schools like Industrial Design Centre (IDC) at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Bombay and Guwahati, National Institute of Design (NID) and World University of Design (WUD). In fact, WUD offers two specialisations in industrial design – transportation and interaction design. Students are admitted through the Common Entrance Exam for Design (CEED) in all these courses.
For beginners, large corporates or big multinational corporations pay up to Rs 8,50,000 per annum. The average initial salary across the industry is around Rs 4,00,000 per annum. Experience and a good educational background is always a boon. There is job-security as it requires long-term stability to achieve productivity maximisation goals.
These designers often focus on a particular product category, like medical equipment, consumer electronics, or autonomous cars, bicycles, furniture, housewares, etc. They can also become user interface designers or interaction designers and focus on the usability of a product, Interestingly, the outlook of this career remains positive despite the recession.