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‘To be a good designer, eliminate biases and keep an open mind’

Industry experts shared their valuable experiences in the field of design with students in a masterclass organised by Apeejay Stya University (ASU)



School of Design & Visual Arts, ASU, organised a virtual masterclass for its students where top design experts from various industries shared their journey of success with the first-year students.

The online classes were moderated by Dr Saurabh Kumar, Assistant Dean, School of Design &Visual Arts. The masterclass comprised a number of sessions on different aspects of design by industry experts. 

Enlightening students about the nuances of fashion designing, Ajay Kumar, founder of global fashion label Mr Ajay Kumar—known for its bold prints–narrated how he discovered his unique style over the years. Mr Ajay Kumar is a global luxury brand that has adopted a maximalist approach in bringing an ultra-modern aesthetic to its unconventional exotic luxurious line. It is modern yet rooted in rich Indian values and traditions, he said in the session. “We believe every garment should bring curiosity to your audience…you should continue to explore. That is your journey. Design is like a funnel according to me. You start with several ideas in the beginning, but you have to zero down on something particular through effective market research. Nevertheless, do not lose your identity in the process. Stick to your ideas.”

As opposed to haute couture, Pallavi Singhee, fashion designer and founder, VERB, an avant-garde clothing label, spoke about creating wearable, affordable and sustainable fashion. Highlighting the difference between an artist and a designer, she further added, “Our profession as designers is different from that of an artist. For an artist, their work is their way of expression…if you don’t want your design to be out of context, you have to grow with the market. You have to keep updating and upgrading yourself. Most important is the timeline—at what season are you pitching a product and at what price to cater to the needs of the customer.”

At the same time, good design is not just about aesthetics, said Divya Padmanabhan, user experience designer, ATLASSIAN. “Good design needs to be functional. To be a good designer, we do not need to always be perfect but also fail and learn from the mistakes we make. Is good design only a product, service, website, or app? It is all of those things. You need to eliminate biases and keep an open mind to be a good designer,” she stated.

Delving further into the aspects of design, Kanchan Dhankani, principal designer and founder, Kanchize Design Studio Private, shared her story of how she emerged as a branding and packaging graphic design specialist. The expert, who has years of experience in the personal care industry, talked about how to make products more desirable to consumers.

Riga Singh, co-founder, StudioAIR, a multidisciplinary design studio, went on to explain a multidisciplinary approach to responsible design. “Ideas are a very powerful tool that we have as designers. We have to break convention and evolve. It is all about what new you can bring to the table. Do not wait for opportunities but create them,” she mentioned.

Among the other experts was Anuja Tripathi, industrial, interaction and game designer, currently an associate with Philips Amsterdam, who spoke on how the power of research infused with skills is the way to innovation. Her designs mainly cater to healthcare, appliances, education, and entertainment.

Sharing insights into innovative design and manufacturing was Ravi Shankar, director and founder of Neuation, an end-to-end design and manufacturing organisation in the field of laboratory equipment, who held a very engaging session.

Nitin Gupta, Design Lead at Amazon (private brands), spoke about powering the fashion business with digital transformation. He has vast experience in the fashion industry across exports, global sourcing in design, creative vision, marketing strategy, and transformation management.

Smriti Swaminathan, product designer at Zendesk and an advocate of sustainable design, conducted an interesting session on how people interact with design. “As a product designer, I keep the user at the centre of the whole design and creative process. Keeping them at the core, I use tools and techniques to design solutions for their problems,” she explained. Simultaneously, she elaborated on “the need for explorative research and regular user testing” in the process.

In the final session of the masterclass, animation industry professional Swarup Deb, co-founder, Girgit Studios discussed the topic “camouflage, adapt and design unique visual experience”. Overall, the masterclass was a wonderful learning experience for the young aspirants. 

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.