Design your destiny – the future of Design careers

Originally published by Inomi founder Richa Dwivedi Saklani with some modifications in The Hindu on June 8, 2019

A designer is a little bit like God – creating reality out of nothing more than an idea. Armed with technology such as robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing, modern-day designers are changing everything about the-world-as-we-know-it – what we wear, how we travel, how we bring up our children, how we have fun and how we relate to others…

Here’s a quick look at some of the fastest growing fields in Design:

User Experience (UX) Designers

They create customer delight by designing products, services and processes based on what customers really want. For example, several San Francisco schools have cafeterias redesigned by IDEO to encourage kids to eat lunch, language learning application Duolingo launches a learning experience with clear goals after only 3 questions making it easy and encouraging for new users, home assistant robot Musio is designed to adapt to humans of all ages and has the look of a cuddly character from Monsters, its LCD display showing large Disney-esque eyes and a separate display portrays a heart. These services and products were designed using UX principles that start with the users needs and keep these as the centre of all decisions.

User Interface (UI) Designers

They combine Design principles with software skills to make websites and applications and games easy and fun to use. These could be exhibition displays, product demonstrations, restaurant reservation apps or  virtual tours of colleges. UI designers focus on the look and ease of navigation to create virtual interfaces that are appealing and intuitive to use.

Game Designers

They combine Design and software with sports and social psychology  to create games that are engaging, if not downright addictive. Gaming is being used for learning, curing emotional and neurological disorders, customer outreach and product testing – among other uses of gaming! Game designers work on the concept and story line of the game designing various levels, reward systems and logic. The lead designer of a game like a movie director with a team of designers working on the characters, scenes, environment, animation and user interface of the game.

Product Designers

Product Designers use varied materials to sculpt and design in three dimensions creating furniture, cutlery, toys, jewelry, bottles and other packaging items. They use techniques like moulding, welding, cutting, stamping, grinding, machining and 3D printing to create useful stuff out of metal, cloth, plastic, glass, leather, wire, ball-bearings, wood and almost any other material you can imagine. They create drawings, wireframes, models and prototypes before perfecting products.

With every business releasing new models and improved product designs every six months, product designers are in demand with companies selling modular furniture, toys and learning aids, jewelry and accessories as well as personal use products like perfumes, toiletries, even toothbrushes.

Industrial Designers

These are often engineers with design training who work on products that need heavy machinery to produce like automobiles, biomedical equipment like x-ray machines, smart gadgets, appliances and robots. And, of course planes and space ships.

Transport Design is a big field for the future with self-driving cars, air taxis and space travel looming on the horizon. The next decade is looking at significant revolutions combining automobile and aeronautical engineering with design principles to produce intelligent cars, trains using levitation technology, in-city planes and tourist spacecraft.

IOT-based design of gadgets and smart appliances presents a revolution in engineering as well as in user experience and user interface. Industrial designers specializing here can expect to work on home appliances that self-adjust to the presence or tastes of family members, musical equipment that learns and builds customsied playlists for typical occasions, self-locking homes with voice activation, among others.

Robot Design is another area of specialisation for electronic engineers with designers customising the look, structure and features of robots to suit clients, countries and cultures. The recent world robotics expo in November 2018 included robot waiters from China and a table tennis robotic opponent from Japan.

Fashion Designers

Fashion Designers are much in demand with international fashion brands creating new designs according to local regions and changing rends. Changing lifestyles and culture also lead to a fast pace of change in designs and a significant growth in fashion styling.

Emerging areas include affordable fashion, personal styling, eco-friendly materials like artificial leather and lightweight high-performance fabric.

Robot fashion and space fashion (for space tourists) can be seen not far into the future.

This profession challenges both the left and the right sides of my brain! It calls equally upon logic and reason as imagination and intuition. Awareness of what design and design thinking can do is still very low in this country – often just seen as a means for cosmetic changes.

“Work a lot with your hands – think and learn by doing. And explore multiple routes/options in the beginning, don’t get stuck with one idea.?

– Sapna Behar, Director, IcarusNova Discovery Pvt. Ltd, Bengaluru

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