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Design: interview with Kurnal Rawat

Design is not just about pretty things, it is also about functionality, says Kurnal Kawat, director of Grandmother India in an interview with Shreevatsa Nevatia.
Hindustan Times | By Shreevatsa Nevatia, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAR 12, 2008 11:29 PM IST

For those aged between 21 and 29, how lucrative is design as a career?

If you look at the educational aspect, there are many more institutions like Srishti, Raffles and Wigan & Leigh that have come up in the last four to five years, compared to earlier when there were just NID, JJ and Raheja. The Industrial Design Centre at IIT has also come up. NIFT and Symbiosis have both started graphic design courses. There is a need for designers, which is why there are so many more institutes. In the last few years, awareness of design and its importance has become much clearer.

Is this awareness translating into more students enrolling for design courses?
Now the prospects are more clearly laid out for students. That's why it's easier and more comfortable for students to enroll in a design school. In our case, it was different. Earlier, we had to convince our parents that we are not just fine artists, that we are into the commercial aspect and that there is a much bigger scope there. Parents today are aware that their kids can get into multimedia, product design, film production, TV channels, graphic design companies or industrial design. They know that design has come to such a stage that they can comfortably send their children to a design institute.

How has the industry changed in the last 10 years?
Designers today have a much larger canvas to work on. Take, for instance, the kind of re-branding of corporate identity that larger companies have gotten into. People who are running these businesses are looking into design as a key element of their product range and strategy. Whether it's packaging or environmental graphics or industrial, the spectrum of all the sectors is getting larger. At the same time, a more innovative space is being created for people to experiment with products with design at the forefront. Compared to earlier, when it was all about educating the client and convincing him or her that design is as important as advertising, that hurdle does not need to be crossed today.

Where on the global value chain does India find a place?
We are far behind. We don't even have a legal design body similar to the guilds of photographers and printers. We are still not a recognised legal industry. Seniors in the industry are trying to push and get the community together so that we form a group. I think in the next few years we should see the government recognise design as an industry. As an industry sector, we are far behind other industries within India itself. In Britain, the design industry contributes substantially to economic growth. That's what the government should realise. Design is not just about pretty things, it is also about business and functionality.

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