The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Industry makes beeline for local designers

Ahmedabad, April 29: The National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad is redesigning its future for greater interaction with industry and, consequently, getting to grips with real-life design demands.

No wonder, several top guns of Indian industry — including Infosys chairman Narayana Murthy, Adi Godrej, Ratan Tata, Philips India’s Ramachandran, Hewlett-Packard’s Warren Greving and Jindal Group’s director Deepika Jindal — visited the institute in the last one year to see things for themselves.

Industry has realised that the right design makes all the difference in a technology-driven world and ensures competitive advantage. As a result, both good design and design institutes such as NID are becoming indispensable to industry.

The institute, too, is keen to cash in on the industry’s interest and develop an interactive nexus with industry to sell its core competence of industrial design.

Till recently, most of the country’s automobile designs were imported despite the existence of a vast pool of indigenous talent.

Though design imports are continuing, there is a visible change with the country’s automobile industry seeking indigenous inputs.

Maruti, Mahindra and Telco are all beginning to dip into the pool of local talent to develop and redesign certain components of their vehicles.

Along with initiatives such as the Confederation of Indian Industry’s design summit with NID in Delhi in December, the industry’s interest has saved it some money and boosted local designers’ confidence.

The summit on “Competitive Advantage through Design” was the second in a series undertaken by the institute. “The basic idea of holding such summits was to bring industry and top design academicians together on a common platform,” an institute official said.

Encouraging the NID-industry nexus, students Ankur Sharma and Charles Tirkey were conferred the first and first runners-up prizes at the first K.C. Mahindra Award for Excellence in Automotive Design in Mumbai on April 23.

The summit was a give-and-take between industry and NID, with both gaining from the exercise.

While industry learnt about various design concepts and their conversion into products, the academicians gained in experience and came face to face with the real requirements of industry.

As many as 22 senior product-design students and two faculty members participated in a workshop with Telco engineers in Pune in December. The aim was to develop internal and external styling and designs for a range of buses that Telco will launch shortly.

The engineers were so impressed that Telco chief Ratan Tata came calling at the institute’s Ahmedabad campus with a high-power delegation on January 16.

The Tata group then decided to work in partnership with the institute and establish a user interface design research chair at NID.

The institute proposed an NID-Tata three-week interdesign workshop in Ahmedabad, where multidisciplinary groups of designers from the country and abroad would generate design ideas in keeping with global trends.

Ratan Tata’s visit generated such a buzz that the next month, a high-level team from General Motors followed, looking for local design talent.

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