If I think back to my earliest view of what design was all about for me – much before I actually found out – it brings back a feeling of adventure, imagination and discovery. Designers are fundamentally problem-solvers. I believe each one of us gravitates to this creative field because we want to make magic. What is magic, really? It’s about not knowing what to expect. When the magician puts the rabbit in the hat and pulls out a handkerchief, the fun is in “not knowing” how he did it. Even better if we don’t know what he’s going to bring out. The process of design is, likewise, very open-ended and in order to get something completely path-breaking, we endeavor never to second guess the ending. Hence, a period of frustration for both client and designer can be longish if both are ambitious. If we are not, we can well envisage the result pigeon-holed into an expectant meter where of course the design will work okay. The whole purpose of design, of course, is not just about doing okay. It is not about fitting the T to the body. It is always about making subtle improvements or major ones and more so, as I always like to say – it’s really about the context.
My realization about design, and likely for most designers, is that we are completely surrounded by it in every breath we take. Therefore, one may ask, what does a designer do that is so special and different if everyone is engaged in some kind of creative process? Why do I need to hire a designer for a task? As designers, we are equipped in our field of choice with special skills to apply ourselves to a need. We are taught to think in a way to accommodate all the requirements of the situation. Designers make things work better and ideally, we make substantial improvements to lifestyles. Why does this sound so familiar? From the beginning of mankind’s evolution with tools and food gathering to technology and information, the one common thread is about how we aim to change the life experience for betterment – comfort, value, time or purely experience.
This August issue brings you articles specific to design to take you into our world to show you how and why design is so central to every occupation. Soumya Parker interviews veteran graphic designer and teacher Mahendra Patel giving us a glimpse into his world of typography. Sujatha Shankar Kumar writes on the 2007 India Design Policy in relation to the fundamental need for good design. Arundhati Mitter our guest columnist contributes a piece on the importance of design thinking in education. Ruma Dhingra writes about how design methods can bring about social change through communications design. We hope that this interesting cross section across trades elaborates how design is intrinsic to every human activity from sophisticated solutions to intuitive possibilities for a good life!