What is product design?
Product design is a specialized field that creates products, services and systems to fulfil the needs of people, and helps them live a better quality of life. A product designer is someone who designs different types of products, from mobile devices, vehicles, furniture, lighting, consumer durables, toys, watches, luggage, jewellery, bath ware, tableware etc.and the list goes on. To design a new product, Designers collect information, target market, functionality, and then they create concepts to meet the need and present them through drawings or mock-up’s to help the manufacturers visualize the product before investing in production. Their work is not limited to aesthetics only and involves considering the ease of use for the user, and its functionality.

As per a report published by British Council & India Design Council in 2016, “design in India has matured over the years and is booming. By 2020, the potential market for design in India is expected to be INR 188.32 billion (GBP 1.43 billion). Only a fifth of the design market is currently tapped. Given the positive demographics, rising educational aspirations, openness to pursuing alternate careers, employment opportunities and increased affordability of higher education, the number of design aspirants is increasing every year. The number of designers required by 2020 in Product, graphic, communication, packaging and other design domains will be 62,000, provided the design potential is fully realized”. Product design which has evolved a lot since the industrial era, now with such advancement of technology, people are no longer happy with just mass manufactured functional object, they want products that are unique and personalized in some way. Today’s products are required to make pleasurable, emotional connections with the consumers through the joy of their use and beauty of their form. Product designers today closely study the lifestyle of people and develop products which give the users a great experience. Fuelled by this a new subset of product design known as Accessory Design is also fast growing, it is one field which combines product design, fashion and technology ( modern and traditional). Many Institutes are offering UG and PG courses in Accessory design and these professionals are also very sought after in the industry.

Basic Qualification to apply for Product design
Basic qualification to join a UG course in Product design is 12+ in any stream and there are two ways to do so, a student can appear for Entrance tests conducted by the design Institutes, or appear for CEED that is the common entrance exam for B. des programs offered by IITs. CEED scores are also valid for admission into some more colleges. An entrance exam for product design typically consists of two tests one that tests General Aptitude (GAT) and another which tests the Creative Aptitude (CAT) of a candidate. The combined score from both of these tests is considered while offering a rank/ seat in the colleges. Some colleges also conduct situation tests and personal interviews for the students who clear the CAT and GAT.
Institutes that offer Product Design

In India, we have both govt. and private institutions offering product design courses. Some of the institutes that offer Product design in India are NID, IIT, NIFT ( Lifestyle Accessory Design) ( Govt. run), Shristi School of design, Pearl Academy, DJ Academy ( private) to name a few.

Skill Sets required for a career in design
To become a product designer one should be Creative, with good visual imagination, a good ability to think in a clear and logical manner is also highly useful. Further ability to communicate through drawings, appreciation for good aesthetics, ability to observe and listen to suggestions and comments and a lot of resilience as this work involves a lot of rejection of ideas and needs constant rework. If you are curious about the objects and how they work and often try and solve problems related to them, you are fascinated with various material, if you like to make things with your hands you may very well have the necessary aptitude to become a product designer.


Opportunities available in the market for graduates of product Design

An increased spending power and a growing middle class that is savvy about design trends and concepts have led to a greater acceptance of the value of design. The rise of Indian design is attributed to more awareness and consciousness of the value of good design. Design institutes are now gradually being recognised as incubators and academic partners by the industry. The industry wants to engage in design schools in active research for new products/value chain and sponsor specialist projects. So the opportunities for a product designer are plenty in the market. Some of the opportunities are listed below:
• As product designers in Design firms domestic or international
• Designer or merchandiser in Export houses
• Start their own label
• Work with craft sectors for NGOs and state governments and help develop craft communities by design intervention
• As an accessory designer for fashion brands/ Lifestyle accessory brands
• As visual Merchandiser for both online and fixed retail stores
• After doing a PG or acquiring at least 5-6 years of industry experience one can also explore opportunities Academics also.
• Work as a consultant and do freelance works, this option gives a lot of flexibility and allows one to work on a wide range of products.

Options available in starting own enterprise
One of the most satisfying and challenging options available to a Product designer is to set up their own enterprise/brand or consulting firm. Designers who start their own label mostly develop and produce their products either in-house or by outsourcing and then sell it in the market through online or retail stores. On the other hand consulting firms provide design solutions to clients who come looking for designers.

Article first appeared in Dainik Bhaskar, Jaipur

About the author: Mr Ajit Bhandari
Associate Professor & Course Leader (Product & Lifestyle Design), Pearl Academy, Jaipur
A Design Graduate from NIFT, New Delhi with 14+ years of experience in Academics, Lifestyle Accessory Design and Design Consultation. Ajit has been associated with Walmart Global Sourcing India Pvt. Ltd; Normak Fashions (P) Ltd; NIFT and Khadi & Village Industries Commission of India in various capacities.

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