The Need for Design Schools in India

India is fast becoming one of the world’s leading consumer of manufactured goods. Be it cellphones, sneakers, cars or home furnishings; Indians are lapping it all up. And the manufacturers of the world cannot ignore the fact that there needs to be a new design sensibility for this new client base.

Jayashree Bhosale at Economic Times writes about this need for an “Indianised” design and by extension the Indian designers.

In the whole post-secondary education boom, pure design schools have not been at the forefront. And that is a niche waiting to be filled. The article below discusses the pros and cons of that.

India is now a potential design pool

There’s a whole new talent dimension that India has yet to cash in on: design. The demand for professionals in this field is going up by the day, as international brands call in on one of the world’s key manufacturing and consumption centres. But with just a handful design schools in the country, it’s an opportunity waiting to be tapped.


“There are only five to six good design schools in the country. Had the supply of experienced designers been enough, some of the top manufacturing companies of India would not need to hire design heads from abroad,” says Forbes Marshall director, Naushad Forbes, who is also a visiting faculty at Stanford. The Indian industry can meet just an estimated 10% of the demand for design professionals, as design schools take in only about 500 students annually.

“A lot of design companies from abroad are looking to collaborate with Indian design companies. There is lot of cross-cultural design taking place. In areas of clean technologies and eco-friendly design, Indian designers can contribute a lot as we are used to the concept of recycling and reusing,” says Falguni Gokhale, director, Design Directions, the company that designed the water purifier, Tata Swach.

The product design teams of multinational companies usually consist of people of various nationalities, and there is a place on these teams for Indians. “As India is a huge market, it is necessary for an MNC to have Indian designers to understand the needs of the Indian consumers,” says Florence Rohart, footwear designer with Adidas, Germany.

Institutes like DSK Supinfocom in Pune are looking to tap this opportunity, and recently held a week-long master class with a four-member team of footwear designers from brands like Puma, Camper and Newfeel participating. “We are looking for possible internships and placements for our students with big brands in different products,” says vice chairman Shirish Kulkarni.

India Inc is filling in some of the supply gap, but we still have a long way to go. Indian automotive companies like Tata Motors, Mahindra and Mahindra and Bajaj Auto have good design talent and studios that match the best in the world. The demand for professionals in emerging markets is particularly encouraging as design as a career in western countries has become saturated and fiercely competitive, says Sudhir Sharma, CEO, Indi Designs and erstwhile founder director of Elephant Design.

Further, he says, most developed countries have developed expensive design practices, which are not viable in today’s economy.”

Though there is a large number of vacancies, designers eventually start their own business. “Only 20% designers stick to a job,” Mr Satish Gokhale.

The competition to get admission to the National Institute of Design is tough while fees at the private design schools are high. The annual fee at private schools is Rs 4 lakh- Rs 5 lakh per student and some of these are five year courses, after Class XII.

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