Design as a career was never planned. It happened because of my wish to make new products every day, unlike what happens in regular engineering and medical colleges.
Solving problems of the society through design intervention is what interests me. That’s why I took up Product Design at the MIT Institute of Design, Pune. I believe that several problems around us can be solved by just tweaking a few things; this tweak which we call ‘jugaad’ is the best form of design I think.
Such designs are to the point and solve the issue right away. They always remind me that ‘less is more’. I really believe that thinking simple is always the way out for complicated design issues.
I feel that everyone is a designer in some way or the other, as it is human nature to solve issues around us. After all, problem solving is designing in a way. It’s just that some think about it a little more than others and hence qualify as designers!
As a part of my course which dealt with designing for special needs, I chose the traffic police. Despite several types of masks and protective gears, they are seen without them.
I thought that the solution should be such that it doesn’t cause a hindrance, but protects and reduces the impact of the polluted air and high decibel levels. Thus, I came up with ‘Mask-it’, a small solution to improve the quality of lives of these brave men and women.
Another important insight is that the personnel were tying just a handkerchief around their face because it was very comfortable. So I adapted this habit and made a gear which was comfortable, through which they could blow their whistle, supported different hairdos of the women, was washable and also had ear muffs to avoid high decibels. An additional enhancement is their department emblem on it; making it a part of their uniforms.
Here are a few of my other group and individual projects. All of these projects have a different perspective and approach.
Oilo was an attempt to enhance the daily chore of dispensing edible oil, through inspiration from nature. Inspired by the humble honeypot ants, this oil dispenser caters to those budding chefs and food enthusiasts who like to explore with cooking.
Hystairia is an attempt to change the perspective of the simple staircase in people’s mind from a daily mundane structure to an interactive climb. Stair climbing is often viewed as an energy consuming and boring activity.
Through the Hystairia series of stairs, we would want the user to acknowledge this structure.
My next project aims at making the age old packaging of Nataraj Hb and colour pencils more interactive. The packaging is a breakaway from the conventional method of packing pencils.
We aimed this to be a special edition packet during certain events like Children’s Day or distributing it in rural areas where kids do not have a pencil box as it also serves the same purpose.
Ignite is a series of lighters for the elite. I have chosen the colours, textures and finishes of these lighters according to the target audience.
So far in my design journey, I have worked on issues around me. Now I wish to take this learning to a larger level where it can be used to enhance the society we live in. Hope to make this journey more interesting with many more milestones to achieve!
Text By Sonali Patel