My father was running a business which tethered on to engineering, hence I took up the same; the experience made me push, explore and learn more, on technical fronts, manufacturing processes, software and many more things, which were required at that point of time. I leaned towards design at a much later stage and that was post an engineering degree.
It was quite fixed I will engage in the family business. But I soon realised I was more happy designing things which challenged me to get into NID. After a year long wait I managed to crack the entrance test on my second attempt.
NID not only got me acquainted with the macro and micro aspects of design but it completely crushed the fixed mindset, which any engineering course could develop in an individual.
Inspired by my father, who took up entrepreneurship as his first step to earning money, I too started ‘Vivek Amberkar Product Design’ in 2008 soon after I graduated from NID.
With no experience, few resources and more importantly no clients – the initial days were not easy, however Praveen Nahar, senior faculty at NID, gave me an excellent opportunity to work with him on interiors for Mumbai Suburban Trains. It was a fantastic addition to my portfolio.
These projects added quite a lot to my confidence and more importantly trustworthiness in the market, which helped in pulling in projects.
At my company, disregarding the industrial trend of specialisation, we deal with multiple laterals of design with a multitude of projects and products and every project is independent of each other. We work for small enterprises, most of them engaging in design for first time. My job starts with actually training the client on how design will create change dramatically and derive a solution oriented process.
We worked with Nirali Cookwares where we designed a sandwich toaster for them. It was a fairly simple product to deal with; the client was more concerned about the aesthetic treatment of the existing product, however we took a stand saying this product although simple needs some serious changes to enhance the product experience.
The competitor’s product was fine tuned on engineering and cost effective manufacturing, we focused on the quality of the sandwich toaster and revised the product for better handling, yet maintaining the cost and technical constraints. The exercise was appreciated with an honourable mention at Red Dot Awards Product Design 2012.
In another case we designed a drop box for Skybill, which is a cheque payment collection service. Ordinarily a drop box is simply a box with a slit and a door, so what was to be designed?
The client had undergone a big brand makeover and the new drop box had to communicate and carry forward the name and trust of the brand. In India money has certain religious connotation and is respected, so we had to enhance the experience in terms of security and safety and thus the comfort of people using the service.
This also included a small detail of how the box needs to be installed on the site. The operator who made collections spent a lot of time arranging the cheques. Realising this, we designed the new layout so that the dropped cheques fall in a pattern which is easy to stack up.
We have also designed gym equipment. ‘Exercyse’ is a portable, folding exercise machine targeted at people restricted to houses due to old age or illness. It offers free pedal movement which provides a good dose of excercise.
‘Eggsoskeleton’ was another important concept which was devised during my NID days, often mistaken as an astronomer’s accessory it was typically designed for Indian coal miners to enhance the quality of life when at work. Indian miners do not wear any uniform at work since the hot and humid working conditions are way beyond human comfort.
The product I have designed is a headgear which offers a clean temperature controlled microenvironment to miners and also transfers the load from the neck to the shoulders. The product now awaits its commercial realisation.
With the digital ophthalmoscope we have also ventured into the area of medical science. The ‘Digital Ophthalmoscope’ is the hardware end of a software able to analyse the human retina for defects.
The design we have proposed aims to change the existing complex structure of the equipment and make it accessible to regular clinics.
Having forayed in the design world I have realised that I have miles to go before I sleep – but within this timeline I have also learnt that design is changing and so are we, every day describes a new lesson and entails a new learning which helps us to create‘ change by design’.