Industry and traditional design are closing ranks in India, with plans to set up four new National Institutes of Design (NIDs) to meet the growing need for industrial designers, especially at the regional level.
The commerce, industry and textiles ministry will announce NIDs in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana to push the growth of regional design and train more youngsters as designers, said Pradyumna Vyas, director of the National School of Design in Ahmedabad.
"We produce nearly 400,000 engineers and 100,000 managers every year. In contrast, we hardly produce 1,000 industrial designers to address the growing need to make design competitive," Vyas told IANS at the CII-NID Design Summit Dec 8-9 in the capital.
The new NIDs are expected to become operational in the next five years. "The new NIDs will cater to regional requirements - and combine traditions with industry to meet global needs," he added.
"Sustainable design that carries forward a balanced and aesthetic equilibrium between our social, economic and environmental structures is where design innovation in current time rests," Vyas said.
The Twelfth Five-Year plan will give a boost to the process of commercialising indigenous designs from regions and make it commercially viable.
Designer Nachiket Thakur is one such "dual knight" of design who exemplifies this inclusive trend in new Indian design.
As founder-president of Pune-based Vishwa Bamboo, he promotes bamboo craft from the Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Nasik regions of Maharashtra as industrial products - for corporate and lifestyle use.
Thakur has created 150 bamboo and clay products, of which 15 are mass manufactured on shop-floors. The craftspeople provide the design and a tech team assembles them in the works.
He also heads the design at Mahindra Composites where he innovates on user-friendly hardware design.
"Traditional and industrial designs have been seeing a parallel growth of late. One has dexterity while the other has skill - but strangely, both are learning from each other. Craftspeople are realising the need for standardisation of designs and their crafts for mass use," Thakur told IANS.
Explaining why traditional crafts were facing a growth block, he said: "Craftspeople are generally happy with their work so long as they get a good price for it."
"They do not look beyond the scope of the ordinary - and livelihoods. People like me who are working in the crafts sector educate them to customise the products - by making them industrially manufacturable to ensure that the quality of the first product and the 1,000th product is the same," he said.
Man-made crafts cannot be mass produced without qualitative variations, Thakur pointed out.
The design environment in India is also changing - as grassroots, traditional and industrial design try to meet on common ground to set up new linkages.
"An entire eco-system for product development is taking roots in India with various entities (like design, production, innovation and resources) coming together to create one Indian design," Sunil Sudhakaran, the owner of Bangalore-based Icarus Design, told IANS.
The design incubation centres - education and support centres for design innovators and entrepreneurs - are an example, he said.
The NS Raghavan design and product incubation cell at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Bangalore helps young innovators and designer-entrepreneurs from the grassroots develop viable start-ups with mentoring, marketing support and resource generation, Sudhakaran said.
"Several engineering colleges across India have set up incubation centres to educate and guide innovators," he said.
The Design Clinic - a micro-level design intervention programme between the National Institute of Design and the commerce, industry and textiles ministry - has been helping micro, medium and small-scale industries to increase their competitiveness by exposing entrepreneurs to design-related thinking, intervention and application since February 2010.
The scheme has a budget of Rs.73.58 crore ($14 million), of which Rs.49.08 crore is government contribution, a ministry spokesperson said.
The government has turned the spotlight on design education with aesthetics and innovations.
The National Design Policy version of 2011 is encouraging the creation of departments of design in all the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs) as well as private colleges.
Under its objectives for the coming year, the policy is stressing on teaching of design in vocational, primary and secondary schools oriented to the needs of small-scale and cottage industries - under the theme "Designed in India, Made For the World" to integrate India's rich traditions, ethnicity with contemporary innovative processes.