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‘Design is a constantly changing, innovating and moving concept’

Ms Reetu Betala, Founder Director, Apeejay Institute of Design, emphasises on the need for in-depth research in design education



With more than three decades of experience in the design and fashion industry, Ms. Reetu Betala is the Founder Director of the Apeejay Institute of Design (AID). An ardent lover of nature, she had envisioned AID to emerge as “a premier design institute of the country” with a mission to nurture and promote “art, culture and design”. She says, “The word ‘design’ is often misunderstood relating it only with skill development and glamour. However, ‘design’ is a thought process, a way of thinking on any subject or idea.”  In a one-on-one interaction, Ms Betala points out the need to network and understand the various aspects of society and why working on live projects plays a game-changing role in nurturing design students. 

Please share your thoughts on the current design education scenario and its demands?

Since design is a constantly changing, innovating and moving concept, the same aspect has to be kept while implementing design education. Design education cannot have a fixed or a static syllabi. As is the very nature of design, it constantly changes with situations, demands, people and their requirements.  Hence it requires to be very innovative to meet the goals of the requirements.  It is goal-oriented and not a fantasy or imagination. Design has to function and prove itself.  This is the concept that needs to be imparted in design education.

Another aspect of design which is mostly ignored is that it relates to society, to the environment and people around you along with the human behaviour at any given circumstance or situation. As design is functional in nature – it is used for the betterment of life, environment as well as society. All in all, the above-mentioned points are motivating factors for design to keep innovating and improving.  

How important a role does research play in design education?

Design basically solves problems and for this it needs to build a strategy.  For building a strategy one needs to do in-depth research.  And so, research is the basis of any design concept. In fact, to conduct research, one has to move into the actual environment, situation to study and understand the problem area. Therefore, on the basis of this massive research, one is equipped to build the strategy of design to address the problem area. 

What are the key ingredients for grooming a true design professional?

Design education has to meet certain ends and obligations that are focused on the society, environment and their problem areas.  Since “Design” is a Commercial activity, as professional designers in the industry, they would also require skills of marketing, business, promotion and materials.  These aspects are very necessary to be built into any design education as the student has to become familiar with the tools, skill as well as capabilities to become a successful professional. 

How do you integrate these innovating trends into your pedagogy?

As already mentioned, design is never static; it is evolving and moving and the same needs to be followed with the pedagogy. Design cannot follow just classroom teaching. The same has been implemented at AID wherein students are encouraged and given assignments from live projects.  When there is a live Interaction between students and the consumer, there is no better learning than this.  It builds not only self-confidence in the students but also teaches them how to interact with several clients.  It also throws open so many avenues of information and thought process hence, helping them to arrive at a workable and better solution.

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay Newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.