piecing together
how I design: how, what, with, for, through & other ideas
I am an ever-growing jigsaw puzzle - my interests, knowledge and experiences all swirl in a whirlwind of colour and form. I hope to collect more pieces through my creative practice as a media agnostic designer.

Born into a family of filmmakers and designers, I grew up steeped in India’s rich art, culture and heritage. They are recurring themes in my work and will be integral to my future projects as well. It defines who I am, my identity and keeps me rooted to centuries of history.

My work often draws on language and communication with the use of typography, symbols and graphic forms, occasionally by adding an element of play, surprise, or even a sense of awe. I am enthusiastic about visual development for film and books, and have positioned past projects at the intersection of concept art and graphic design. I intend to take this further in the future using motion graphics to develop title sequences.

design how
I adhere to the principle ‘less is more’ (Mies van der Rohe 15) and as it is more commonly referred to within the Design and Technology community, KISS (keep it simple, stupid), a phrase coined by Kelly Johnson. Alleviating assumptions and miscommunication through simple, yet significant design, is key to functionality. I believe in finding the balance between function and aesthetics, ensuring that form follows function (Dennis 28), but is never a slave to it.

I must also examine the sustainability and afterlife of materials and designed products. How do they disassemble or decompose post consumption (Michael Stead, Paul Coulton & Joseph Lindley 2137)? Am I solving or adding to the existing environmental concerns? I consciously try using found or repurposed materials, especially when prototyping.

Limitless ideation is a mandatory step in my design process. I adopt a ‘Why not?’ attitude as I’ve learnt that even the wackiest of ideas, if strong in concept, can create exciting results. However, my first, or even fifth, idea is not always the best. One of my undergraduate professors prepared me to kill my own babies, to get rid of any unnecessary elements or ideas. For every project, irrespective of its scale, it is crucial to research, create, prototype, test and iterate. I hope to constantly build on and improve my design thinking, sensibility and aptitude. While learning is through discovery, practice and experimentation, design is through thinking and tinkering. Simplicity, sustainability, specificity, improvement and ideation are crucial to my design process.

design what
I strongly believe that combining data and design will help better understand and respond to human behaviour and needs. I aim to focus on insight-driven, human-centred design to curate, create and craft engaging, visceral experiences. I focus on experimental typography, illustration, animation and motion graphics to cater to and play with peoples' senses and interpretation of their environment.

I would like to explore innovative forms of communication, visualising narratives and virtual interactions in diverse contexts. I am particularly interested in storytelling, film and social media as communicative platforms, all leading viewers to constantly emote and empathise with pictures on a 2-dimensional surface.

I am influenced by social-media storytelling platforms like Cut and Humans of New York, which seek to start conversations, shatter stereotypes and establish a sense of community through shared experiences. Communicating via narratives, especially on public, accessible platforms, empowers and gives a voice to the voiceless. Similarly, I would like my practice to leverage the power of design to bridge the gap between communities and foster healthy relationships.
I am keen on building wholesome, memorable and intriguing interactions between humans (and machines) through an expansive, multidisciplinary approach. By always putting people first, I want to contribute to enhancing everyday life through interventions at multiple levels.

design with
During the research phase of my Major Studio 1 project on human - plant relationships, I began discovering by navigating the city, observing and documenting the various modes of interaction between humans and plants, meeting people and asking stupid questions (Mau). I realised projects ultimately fail unless all stakeholders are included at every stage, highlighting the value of design strategy and streamlined systems. This triggered my desire to incorporate an integrative design philosophy focused on problem solving through research and critical analysis.

Asking relevant questions, putting ideas up for debate, design jams, critiques, exchanging experiences, thoughts and perspectives to arrive at a shared goal are indispensable to co-design.

Sustained dialogue with stakeholders and collaborators from different disciplines will help foster empathy and comprehend complex challenges such as wicked problems or prevalent social injustice and inequity.

design for everyone
Society is steeped with bias of many kinds (gender, racial, economic, caste, disability etc.) that manifests in everyday life as stereotypes, discrimination and micro-aggressions, and more detrimentally in products that we use. Facial recognition softwares (Buolamwini) and AI-enabled devices (Benjamin 54), for example, are a direct result of algorithms fed with biased training data.

So far, I have been largely unaware of, or in some cases, even guilty of being indifferent to these issues as it did not influence my work in advertising. There is a strong necessity now to be better informed of these ongoing practices and actively speak out against them. It is critical that I prioritise inclusivity in my projects to respectfully address and combat systemic issues of under-representation or misrepresentation.

design for the self
Many in-house design teams and agencies normalise working beyond stipulated work hours, often citing ‘urgent jobs’ (Jamie 2020). This has continued to happen even through the pandemic. I've been victim to this as well when I worked as a visualiser at an advertising agency.

I have now recognised that it is high time that I know my worth, so I will no longer help an acquaintance out by working for ‘free’, nor will I succumb to long hours in a stressful workplace. Most importantly, I must learn to say ‘no’, something I’ve had great difficulty in doing without feeling extremely guilty. Having a good work-life balance, personal projects outside of work, and time for myself are essential and will reflect positively on my practice.

design through
I have been trying to position my work within multiple domains - primarily art, design, film and technology. I look forward to exploring these intersections and discovering new ones as I slowly establish my creative practice.

Using a visual framework, such as the Krebs Cycle of Creativity (Oxman 2016), as the foundation to map and assess my work provides for reflection and introspection. Moreover, it gives me great insight into the many directions I’d like to orient my work in the future. Apart from the intersection of domains, I will classify my work under: 

physical    |    digital    |     emotional     |    sensory

and analyse each project outcome based on the following criteria:
goal / intention
relevance (to the context)
adaptability (for the future)
Using the above framework as a tool, I will be able to learn from and expand my skills and knowledge through every project, and in the process, collect more puzzle pieces to see the bigger picture.

Works Cited
Benjamin, Ruha. 2019. Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code. John Wiley & Sons.

Buolamwini, Joy. “How I'm Fighting Bias in Algorithms.” TED. Accessed October 7, 2021. https://www.ted.com/talks/joy_buolamwini_how_i_m_fighting_bias_in_algorithms?referrer=playlist-the_inherent_bias_in_our_techn.

D'Amato, Jamie. “Designing a Life beyond Work.” Medium. Bootcamp, July 7, 2021. https://bootcamp.uxdesign.cc/designing-a-life-beyond-work-63b3beaff3c0.

Franke, Björn and Matter, Hansuli. (2020) Not at Your Service: Manifestos for Design, Berlin, Boston: Birkhäuser. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783035622751

Mau, Bruce. 2001. An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth. S.l.: S.l. : Combination Press.

Michael Stead, Paul Coulton & Joseph Lindley (2019) Spimes Not Things. Creating A Design Manifesto For A Sustainable Internet of Things, The Design Journal, 22:sup1, 2133-2152, DOI: 10.1080/14606925.2019.1594936
Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig., Blaser, Werner., Stephenson, Dennis Quibell. 1986. Mies van der Rohe : less is more.Germany: Waser.

Mittal, Yash. “My Design Manifesto.” Medium. Towards Data Science, September 21, 2019. https://towardsdatascience.com/my-design-manifesto-9ad8f580ef6f.

Oxman, Neri. “Age of Entanglement · Journal of Design and Science.” Journal of Design and Science, January 13, 2016. https://jods.mitpress.mit.edu/pub/ageofentanglement/release/1.

Pierce, Dennis. 2017. "As Pedagogy Changes, LEARNING SPACES are Transforming, Too: The American Architect Louis Sullivan Coined the Phrase "Form Follows Function," and this is True of Classrooms as Well." THE Journal : Technological Horizons in Education 44 (5): 28.

Prahalad, C.K. and Ramaswamy, V. 2004, "Co-creating unique value with customers", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 4-9. https://doi.org/10.1108/10878570410699249.
Steen, Marc. 2013. "Co-Design as a Process of Joint Inquiry and Imagination." Design Issues 29 (2): 16-28. doi:10.1162/DESI_a_00207.