On our first day at the National Institute of Design, the then Executive Director, Shri Ashoke Chatterjee, told us that we would be addressed as ‘Young Designers’. We didn’t have to wait to finish design school to be called designers.
It was a matter of pride to be addressed as a professional already, and I think that shaped the way we received education at the Institute. This impacted our attitude towards learning and generally made us more responsible towards our courses and projects.
Institutes and colleges need to focus hard on building the design attitude amongst their students. Young designers need to believe that they can change the world. They need to aim higher, and attempt the impossible with confidence because that is the only way the impossible does become possible. Students would start questioning early on: what does it mean to be a designer? How does a designer behave? How are designers different from other social beings? What does it mean to be a professional designer? How is being a designer different from being an engineer or an artist? These are great questions that need introspection at a very early age.
This also addresses a major issue of internships and placements. This is not something that students or faculty should wake up to a month or even six months before the due date. There should be a process of easing the student into the professional environment from day one. Make them aware of companies and designers very early…help them engage with them.
I would pick a fresh designer with the right design attitude any day over one with a great portfolio. Even though a portfolio is important, every design company knows how to groom fresh designers with the requisite skills. We need young professionals with the confidence of a veteran and the curiosity of a cat.
How do we get institutions to focus on this? I would love to take this discussion ahead. Do let me know what you think about this.
Sudhir Sharma, Editor-in-Chief