Publication Name: https://medium.com
Date: September 2018
Narendra has been a designer at Tata ELXSI since 1997. Through that time he has worked on a wide range of projects in service design, UX design, consumer research and spatial design.
Fill in the blank: Being a design professional is NOT
some god-given ability to dispense creativity on demand.
Fill in the blank: Being a design professional IS being sensitive and nuanced about solutions and to have an ability to predict the behaviour that these solutions evoke.
What is the most valuable (design) lesson you’ve learnt from someone who is not a design practitioner?
Early in my career, Jugaad (to be clear, I don’t like Jugaad) was part of the designer’s creativity. When a vendor or a fabricator made a mistake and deviated from my design, I would try to rescue the problem with some jugaad or some compromised idea. (This could range from wrong font selected to wrong radius applied or wrong material chosen). One of these guys decided to break the model and do everything from scratch as per the original design rather than follow the jugaad solution. I realised that this approach was actually better.
So the lesson learnt is to respect the thinking that went into creating the original design and not compromise at the last stage. Carrying the design intent through is a key responsibility of the designer.
What would you say is the defining characteristic of “Indian” design? Do you think there is a modern visual language that is specific to India?
Intricate and multi-purpose is the defining characteristic of the ‘Indian’ mindset. Hence the products that are most popular tend to have this design element. On the visual design spectrum, our society has become more confident and proud of its Indian roots. Hence, the defining graphic design style that you see in most decor and many products is very ‘Indian’ and this has created a visual language that is recognised worldwide.
Being creative is largely about having the courage to fail repeatedly. Could you give an example from your own experiences of a project that failed? What went wrong, and what did you learn/take away from that experience?
Courage of Conviction is a facet of the designer that is sometimes in short supply. In my case, it was the inability to push back and convince a larger audience around me. This was a project that we called ‘Chota-Pay’. This was a NFC based payment solution for small transactions to be able to pay small amounts (like 4 rupees) to a vendor within 2 seconds. We created the solution, installed the prototypes in the campus, gave 600 chotapay cards to employees to try out. It was very successful. Yet we did not pursue for a lack of business alignment. Then 2 years later the entire demonetisation happened!
What can a student/fresh graduate and an experienced professional learn from each other in the design industry?
An ability to trust one’s instinct is very important. Good experienced designers learn to ‘know’ their instincts and that is something that young designers can learn. Experienced professionals tend to get wedded to their old tools and software programmes and seldom master a new tool. The fresh designers are always willing and able to adopt new tools and processes and this is something they can teach their older colleagues
How has being in Bangalore enriched your creative process? What have you learnt from the city?
Haha, this will seem slightly counter intuitive. Traffic jams have a side benefit: Solo thinking time. I drive to work and always listen to some great thought-provoking podcasts. Bangalore and its traffic has allowed me to go through numerous hours of insightful thoughts that enrich you. Some of my favourite podcasts are: Audiogyan, PlanetMoney, 99% invisible, Radio Lab and Car Talk.
And finally, to wrap up — How do you spend a perfect Sunday in Bangalore? Any specific recommendations or must-trys? Yogisthan in Indiranagar is a must try. My Sunday
(you will n
Yogisthan in Indiranagar is a must try. My Sunday (you will not believe this) starts with cricket. We have a galli-cricket team called VBCC (Vista breakfast and cricket club) and we have been playing every Sunday in our gated community for last 10 years. The rest of the day is relaxed, with some fun lego project with my 13-year-old son.