Learn from the best in the design business at The Designer’s Class
Back to class with a bunch of well-known names from the world of design and style. That’s what Edutechtionalists India Pvt. Ltd. have conceptualised at The Designer’s Class, ‘India’s first digital education platform in the design space’. They have launched with courses by fashion designers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, Masaba Gupta, Payal Singhal, Kunal Rawal, Arpita Mehta, Jayanti Reddy, producer and stylist Rhea Kapoor and stylist Tanya Ghavri. We spoke to some of the celebrity ‘tutors’ to know more.
Did this venture bring back memories of the classroom?
Rhea Kapoor: I actually never went to school for fashion, so not really but it does bring back a lot of memories of speaking to the girls who’ve assisted me for so many years and trying to give them as much real-time experience and guidance as I possibly can. That in my styling career is one of the things that I’m most proud of.
Arpita Mehta: Oh yes! Absolutely. It made me go back to my time in college and my experiences, the things I learnt, the mistakes I made.
Masaba Gupta: Absolutely, it took me down memory lane and vividly played out fond memories from the time gone by. I could once again feel the child in me return with the same curiosity and hunger for knowledge.
Kunal Rawal: Yes absolutely, the launch event and the press conference most definitely did. The courses we’ve shot are not very much like how the classrooms used to be, it’s far more interactive and engaging and I think that’s a lot more fun today. It’s the new version and the way forward of what classrooms would be like and should be like.
Jayanti Reddy: Definitely! Especially at the press conference, so well-organised and the set made us go back in time.
Tanya Ghavri: Yes absolutely… learning is always so exciting. I remember when I was studying fashion especially art history storytelling theory and just learning every day was so exciting!
What are your fondest memories from school or college?
Rhea: My fondest memory from NYU (New York University) is just landing in New York and immediately feeling at home and I don’t know how to describe it but there was this indescribable sense of freedom and I just loved it. In terms of learning, my best experience was at Dhirubhai Ambani (International School) and I was in the first batch… I remember thinking that we’re so lucky because we had this incredible faculty and all the resources were just unbelievable. And I remember learning differently for the first time, reasonable thinking, exploring what I felt and what my opinions were and how that could be valuable and yeah that was really empowering.
Arpita: There are tons to be honest, but what I relive the most is the way I was always inclined towards sketching. Even in school, every notebook of mine had sketches/doodle of clothes and flower designs on the last few pages. In college too, when I go back now I see my sketches framed and put up in the corridor and it makes me feel immensely proud.
Masaba: My fondest memories from school and college are the times that I have spent with my friends. In that age we aren’t just learning academically but also learning about life and human relations subconsciously. I believe our friends play a crucial role in helping us experience the broad spectrum of emotions. We laugh with them, cry with them, understand the intricacies of life and how to deal with situations when things are not in our favour.
Kunal: All of our fondest memories track back from college and school. Whether it’s the early morning cricket matches held before school hours to the bunking of a few classes post-lunch for volleyball practice to the water cooler and the memories of sharing your benches, which was like letting that person into your world. Also, not to forget, the quick naps post-lunch.
I was studying fashion in London, and we were pulling all-nighters to get our assignments done. A lot of it was not only theoretical, so we were always trying to better our projects. I’m coming to terms with being a teacher — from young to being semi-young, and imparting knowledge to the next generation of designers. I think that has been an interesting element.
Tanya: I think my fondest memories are from Parsons School of Design when I studied fashion and we had to go to the Met (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) every second week for our assignments to research pieces of art and write thesis on different topics!
What kind of a student were you? Did you enjoy studying?
Rhea: I was a good student. I did really well and was really focused on my studies till maybe the board exams and then I kind of got distracted with other things, but yeah in general I was a good student. If I concentrated in class and things were explained to me well then my memory used to retain a lot.
Arpita: I was a nerd! I didn’t enjoy studying but I liked excelling in all my subjects and getting a good score!
Masaba: I was an under-confident student. And distracted by sport because that was my passion. But at the end of it all I did very well when the time came. I loved studying, much of it came from curiosity and pursuit for a reason.
Kunal: I honestly enjoyed studying. I was that typical over-prepared student. We had a tutor for all subjects and a second tutor for the revision of all the subjects.
Jayanti: I was actually quite an obedient student... enjoyed every bit of it.
Tanya: I had my phases, everyone has favourite subjects. I think from the very beginning I was always inclined towards all the creative bits that came out of school learning.
What were your favourite subjects?
Rhea: History, English, theory of knowledge…. I loved Shakespeare in college.
Arpita: Illustration, history of costume, pattern making.
Masaba: Arts used to be my favourite, it still is.
Kunal: English, art, history, technical drawing.
Jayanti: Surprisingly, biology and math!
Tanya: Biology, history, art history, art.
What kind of a teacher do you think you’d make?
Rhea: I think I’d make a decent teacher. I’m really proud of how each one of my assistants who’ve learnt from me in the past 12 years has embraced an individuality and they’re all different and they all have a different identity.
Arpita: I feel the way I would teach would be very understandable and relatable and make it easier for students to learn and definitely exciting.
Masaba: I think I would be Robin Williams’ John Keating from Dead Poets Society (laughs). I relate to that character not because it’s inspiring but because that’s how teachers should be. If we have teachers like that our education system will greatly improve and give us professionals, who are not just technically sound but also score high on the EQ.
Kunal: I think I’d make for a teacher that is, hopefully, patient and somebody who’s always there. When I was much younger, I always knew the importance of having somebody you can talk to, and hand-holding is something that helped me when I was much younger. You need somebody whom you don’t feel scared to ask all your questions, however silly and stupid they might be. I would like to be someone who would answer all your questions because when you’re that young, asking questions is a very positive thing. In fact, at any age, a curious mind is a mind that will end up getting to know a lot more in life. I’m a big believer in trial and error. If you don’t let your mind go towards the trial-and-error phase, you’re never going to learn.
Tell us about your The Designer’s Class experience. Why did you choose the subjects you chose?
Rhea: The subjects were presented to me and I kind of thought they were in the right vein so yeah we just went ahead and did fashion inspired by urban culture and building a brand.
Arpita: It’s been a very exciting and new direction for me. I had always wanted to share my knowledge and this is the perfect platform to do so. I basically wanted to teach subjects which are my forte, that way I can share much more and with absolute authenticity, honesty and of course experience.
Masaba: There’s no end to learning, the world undergoes rapid changes every single moment and these changes spill into every field, be it science, literature or art in the form of new advancements. The Designer’s Class not just helped me revisit some old principles but, also taught me about the new developments in the field.
Kunal: These are all subjects I strongly believe need to be spoken about. I took up street style because that’s something I’m a big believer of, not only the sneaker culture and street style originating from the West, which I am very much into, but I feel like India has a very solid, thriving street-style scene. My factory is in Andheri East, which is one of the most inspiring areas for street style because you have so much natural street style. You’ll see people wearing kurtas with denim jackets, pleated twilled pants, and sneakers.
We have also done pattern drafting and menswear garment construction that is important to learn theoretically and then gain experience with trial and error. Understanding the construction of different garments is very important, as it gives you an idea of how the final garment will fall and drape around the body. Also, it is important to know it is easier to understand how a garment is supposed to look, fit, fall on a bust or a mannequin, but the challenge becomes apparent when the garment is worn by different kinds of bodies.
Occasion wear and Indian couture for menswear is another lesson that I am excited about. It is a glorious time for occasion wear and especially menswear. For the longest time, we had rules for how men and women were supposed to dress up based on their age and generation. Today, we do not have many of those rules and young designers are contemporising occasion wear. I am a big believer in what happened to the Japanese wave of designers 30 years back when they went global. We can see that happening in India, with Indian designers.
Jayanti: I chose sustainability because it is the need of the hour! We, at Jayanti Reddy have always made a conscious effort to be eco-friendly from the very beginning — attempting to be a fully sustainable model eventually, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate subject!
What is the most interesting part of being in an e-classroom?
Rhea: It gives you the freedom to kind of really think about the subjects deeply and reflect on what you’ve said even after you said it, and you’re doing it in a concentrated amount of time so it’s more efficient in that way — it can be argued but there are pros and cons to everything.
Masaba: I find it really interesting that we can connect with each other and gain knowledge outside the physical boundaries. The other thing is the access to information, now you don’t need to carry bags that are heavy. PDFs, PPTs, notepads, cameras, screenshots, screen recorders are the new-age tools of learning.
Kunal: The fact that you could make the content engaging, exciting, and fun for the viewer. I believe that when you’re comfortable and in your own space, you are a bit more tuned in to grasp what you’re hearing. The content that we shoot visually is a lot more exciting than being in a classroom. You could take people through different spaces and processes. You can take them through info graphics and so many other things. All these tools help in learning. In a lot of instances, people have a visual memory, like me. So it is important for things to sequence in together to help you grasp better, and that’s something we’ve taken care of with all the courses at The Designer’s Class.
Jayanti: The fact that it’s so easily accessible and inexpensive.
Given a chance, what would you like to study now?
Rhea: Given a chance, I think I would like to study film editing and maybe screenwriting. I think that’s what I’d want to study. Especially screenwriting.
Arpita: I would love to do some online classes which would broaden my horizon by something that would add to my profession.
Kunal: I personally always want to learn more because knowledge never goes to waste. It’s something that helps you at some point in life. I’m a strong believer in the fact that I don’t know everything so I would love to learn more and I would love to take up more courses in fashion, accessory design, and, during the lockdown, I wish I had learned how to cook. I might take up a cooking course because cooking is something that excites me and I can see myself whipping up dishes.
Jayanti: Since I’m not formally trained, definitely a course in sketching and portfolio design.
Who is one among all the tutors you would never want as a student because of how mischievous they are?
Rhea: I would never want Kunal Rawal as my student because first of all we’re too close and he’s just impossible but also he’s really stubborn and will only want to do things the way he wants to do them, so that’ll be really annoying. But he’s also very mischievous and very charming so he always gets his own way.
Arpita: That would be hands down Kunal Rawal!
Jayanti: Kunal Rawal!
Who’s teaching what!
ABU JANI and SANDEEP KHOSLA
Fashion Foundation for XI
Fashion Foundation for class XII
Indian Ethnic Couture
Urbanwear and Streetstyle
How to create a fashion brand
Decoding men’s ethnicwear
Drafting and construction womenswear
Technical Fashion Illustration
Was the pandemic instrumental in the launch of The Designer’s Class?
The Designer’s Class is the result of a 15-plus-months journey that was conceptualised during the first lockdown. The pandemic has been monumentally instrumental in the growth of the e-learning space in general. People being compelled to sit at home, having not much to do and needing to be engaged in order to distract themselves from the situation of the world back then, really propelled the digital education market and gave rise to many concepts in the e-learning space and The Designer’s Class is one of them. As passionate entrepreneurs, my partners and I made use of the time we had on hand, started observing the rapid growth in this emerging market, and began researching the gaps in industry, which led to the creation our platform. So the pandemic, in more ways than one, was pretty instrumental in the birth of The Designer’s Class.
Do you yourself have an experience of such a class?
I did take few classes on various e-learning platforms back when we were all locked down. While I enjoyed a few of those classes, I felt a lot more could be done. The potential of providing education digitally became extremely apparent to me. So yes, I do have little bit of experience having taken such classes and that experience really helped me to think what I would do differently, so it was extremely beneficial taking them.
How did you go about choosing your mentors?
I was always extremely keen on getting the very best names in the industry together, that was one major requirement in my head when we conceptualised TDC (The Designer’s Class). Luckily, we managed to do that.
Choosing the mentors, with names that we have on board was a very easy decision, since these icons of the industry were basically my dream team. Seeing their enthusiasm about the project and their active involvement in the curation of the courses was extremely reassuring. Every mentor who we have collaborated with has been extremely passionate, about imparting their knowledge for the benefit of others. We did, however, conduct a round of market research to quantify that the names we have on board are people that the target audience would also be excited to learn from, and we got tremendously positive feedback on the names that we proposed.
Have you taken any class yet?
I have actually been involved in every part of the process, from the very beginning. I have been involved in the scripting process of the content with designers and my content team. I’ve sat in on each and every shoot. I’ve reviewed every video that we have on our platform, along with my team before we’ve put it out. So I actually know all the content that’s taught in the classes. I did, however, subscribe to one of the classes and just about managed to pass the assessments with satisfactory results. That was quite a relief!
What are your expectations from The Designer’s Class?
Our aim at TDC is to democratise and revolutionise design education across the globe. We want to make it affordable, accessible, relevant and engaging for everyone who is interested. The goal is to add realisable benefits to our subscribers, whether it’s adding to their knowledge base or their resumes or adding to their skill sets. We provide our subscribers with internship opportunities, certificates of completion, university affiliations, brand placements and will soon be adding on a lot more. We intend to be the world’s premier, holistically beneficial, design education-based platform/community.