By Srishti Bajaj: Head of Department, Product Design from School of Design Pearl Academy
First, let’s go back a little…
Design is not new; humans have been designing since we lived in caves and carved the first stone weapons to hunt. Innovation is not new; farming is an excellent example of an innovation that allowed us to settle and come together as a civilization. Both design and innovation have been around as instinctive common-sense practices since the dawn of human evolution.
As soon as we could imagine an alternative that made our life better, easier, simpler – we were both designers and innovators.
There are two fundamental aspects of human capacity that make design and innovation possible –
- A creative imagination to solve problems
- Using available resources to make something new
Every individual is capable of creative pursuit, we apply our creativity while we cook, how we dress, when we play and even how we makeup interesting excuses when we get late. It is the human ability to take a situation, evaluate and make decisions that are a little more interesting than the obvious, that have a creative flair, thinking out of the box, that allows us to bring wit and wisdom to manage a situation. Designers often spend large amounts of time seeking this imaginative flow, a certain je ne sais quoi that is often described as the ‘a-ha moment’ – when the mind makes a connection that wasn’t previously there.
Making something new
We are even surrounded with innovations, from the tooth brush to the TV to your mobile phone to your shoe, your watch, the house you live in, the clothes your wear, the car you drive to the shop you buy your groceries from. All of these things – objects & environments are designed, the technology that has made them possible have all been invented. Human beings are natural seekers – finding thrill is achieving something that hasn’t been done before.And we spend large amounts of time exploring new alternatives, new ways of doing things, applying a novel approach, trying and making the best of what we have. For example, have you ever found things around the house and doneyour own ‘jugaad’ on it, made it a little bit better; modified and adapted it a little better to your needs?
Back to the future…
Our evolution as a civilisation is at the precipice of an even greater fundamental shift – globalisation, technology and consumerism has forever changed how we live. It has made life smoother, easier, faster. Today, we also have a greater awareness of ourselves, our lives and our futures than ever before and technology has brought us the ability to shape our lives as we see fit.
The paradox for the future is in finding the right balance between what we ‘can’ have and what we ‘should’ have.
Reflect on this for a minute – today, while we are able to travel the world in luxury, it has also increased our carbon footprint;our erstwhile mobile device was envisioned to connect us to a larger world, they have made us disconnect with the person sitting next to us. We have manufactured and marketed with such great speeds that we haven’t taken the time to evaluate where it’s taking us. We have ‘wicked problems’ (poverty, sustainability, equality, etc.) that have become difficult to solve without deconstructing the entire system.These complexities require a new way of seeing, of living, of evolving.
The last decade has also brought us closer to the rise of a greater global consciousness, we are seeing a greater desire to preserve our future, to address challenges that have either newly arisen or even those that have been ignored in the past in lieu of unrelenting consumption. This better future world we want to build is where we have a big need for conscious innovation, and design provides the focus and structure that innovation so badly needs.
Innovation by design is the application of design methods and sensibility to address future needs, wants and desires of the consumer in a responsible manner.
Design focuses on understanding the various paradigms of our world and how they interact with each other in order to create value. There is a method to the creative madness, a process, a framework that allows us to take a problem, understand it, analyse all the variables and respond with a new, creative solution.
Design people are already working with all kinds of businesses – both for profit and not for profit in order to provide innovative solutions – in terms of product, services or experiences. Innovation by design in demand across sectors from hospitals, hospitality, manufacturing & technology companies, education, banking and even retail. Designers use empathy to truly understand the user, integrate technology to make things function better, think strategically to ensure economical sustainability, apply material science to ensure ecological sensitivity and most of all find inventive, innovative solutions by thinking creatively, disruptively.
This capacity of creative imagination to create a better world is the reason why ‘design’ & ‘innovation’ or rather ‘innovation by design’ is the next big thing.Imagine a career where you as an individual, nay, as a designer, you can influence the future of how the world works, where you can innovate and make human experience richer, more meaningful and immensely fulfilling.