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Design Management
- Anshu Dwivedi

hen one thinks of


design, thoughts
that immediately
invade the mind
space are those of
style and fashion.
Style and fashion are aesthetic
aspects of a designing process so
that a product appeals to the senses
of the target customer. What most
people miss however is the utility
aspect of a design. To build
customer loyalty, any product has
to first deliver utility. Aesthetics is
applied only at the end of the
product development process to
give visibility to the product once it
is on the shelf, among competitors.
Today, the whole concept of design
is undergoing a radical change. Its
domain has expanded to include
utility and aesthetics, but also
Advertising
Design,
Communication Design, Retail
Experience Design and Interaction
Design. The final aim is to increase
product accessibility for the
customer.
Corporates, today, are realising
that product manufacture and its

supply to retail chains is not an end


in itself. Easy product accessibility
and provision of a good shopping
environment to the customer
should follow designing a quality
product. Leading a customer to
your product once he is inside the
shop and keeping him interested
long enough to make him buy
the product, are becoming
increasingly
important
determinants of profit margins.
High accessibility and comfortable
interaction inside the store add
immense value to the brand images
of the products.

LEADING BY DESIGN
A good example of application
of such design management
principles would be the Pantaloon
chain of retail stores that have been
designed, keeping in mind the
concepts of accessibility and
shopping space, for an amazing
shopping experience.
Pantaloons was the first of its
kind in India to make a fashion
statement, with life-size windows
and billboards strategically placed

to attract customers. The large glass


windows offer customers a full
view of the shopping space as well
as the range of products on display.
This gives them the satisfaction and
pleasure of window-shopping. The
customer is energised to see other
happy shoppers. Once inside, all
items are on display so the
customer has an idea of everything
that is available in the store without
much effort. Thus, he automatically
tends to shop more.
Today, Pantaloons is the largest
retail chain in India with threeflagship brands- the Big Bazaar
Hypermarket; Food Bazaar, which
straddles the food and grocery
business; and the original
Pantaloons Apparel Store.

THE DESIGN MANAGER


The design process starts right
from the moment the concept of a
product comes into being. The
product has to be engineered
according to the actual needs and
experiences of a customer. The
engineers are asked to use the
product themselves and bring
innovations and changes into it
based on their actual experience.
Marketing managers go to a retail
chain as customers to buy their
product. Acting as customers
themselves helps them identify
problems associated with the
visibility and accessibility and
devise solutions guided by real
experience. So instead of designing
a product first and marketing it,
companies now design the product
and use the design element as a
marketing differentiator. A design
manager is one who integrates the
entire process with the engineers,
designers, product managers and
marketing managers and educates
them about customer requirements.
He advises the brand manager to
use design as a differentiator in
brand management.

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SCENARIO
Across the US and Europe,
Design Management as a Post
Graduate course is a concept that
is in vogue. In India the concept is
still in its infancy. Although there
are a few reputed institutes such as
NID, NIFT and IDC at IIT Mumbai
that offer professional courses in
design, a course in Design
Management per se is yet to find a
place in the curriculum. A
pioneering effort has been made by
MICA, which has introduced a
nine-month certificate course in
Design
Communications
Management from January 2004.

THE EXPERIENCE
Anshu Dwivedi spoke to Atul
Tandan, Director, MICA on the
scope of Design Management in
India:
Could you tell us something about
the Design Management course at
your institute?
Its new in the sense that the first
batch of the graduate program
in Design Communications
Management has just passed out.
The entire batch of 15 students got
job placements prior to their
graduation, which is equity in itself.
All of them have joined Design
Management companies that
essentially deal with Brand
Consulting. Technically speaking
they are not designers that NID
would develop but people who
manage the design process within
an organisation in order to create
customer- centric or customerfocused products, systems and
business processes.
Which were the companies that
offered placements and what was
the range of the salary offered?
The Alia group, Tata Motors,
Elephant Design, Pantaloons,
Synapse, Vyas Vanity are a few of
the companies that our students
have joined. These are strictly
design conscious companies. The
range of salary offered was between
two to six lacs per annum.

intrinsic capability to think out of


box. The students are put through
a written test, where they are asked
to give ideas and suggestions on
case studies giving examples of
existing brands and products to see
what customer insights they can
bring in.

Does Design Management have


anything to do with fashion
designing per se?
No. We dont get into fashion
designing; or into the use of
materials like pottery and textile
designing. A watch can be made to
look like an ordinary timepiece or
like a piece of jewellery. The
difference is in the design. Now if
you recognise that there are
customers who are willing to pay
for a wristwatch, which is as
expensive as jewellery, then this
customer insight or understanding
would be made available to the
design person. He will then design
a product to cater to the specific
customer demand. Managing this
design interface between marketing
and the designer is what design
communications management is all
about.
Are you collaborating with other
foreign universities?
We have collaborations with
universities in the UK, France and
the USA with respect to designing
the curriculum and bringing the
richness of international experience
through guest faculties and Student
Exchange Programmes.
What are the basic qualities you
seek in a prospective student?
How do you test a student for
these?
We are on the look out for
creatively inclined students with an

What changes are you planning to


bring into this new course for the
next session?
We plan to increase the duration
of the course to fifteen months. This
we are doing to include new
courses like Industrial Designing,
E- Designing etc. to impart specific
skills to our students. It is also an
experience of experimentation and
evolution for us.
Do you think that Indian culture
has a lot to offer and gain from
Design Management? How do we
take this message across to the
outside world?
Design by itself is something
ingrained in the Indian ethos. We
are very rich in visual language.
Look at the ways in which we use
the symbols of Swastika and Om,
or the way in which we try to write
certain words to give them an
Indian ethos, although they are
written in English. These are all
components of design. The whole
concept of Vaastushastra, is about
designing the interiors of your
home.
As far as recognition abroad is
concerned, I think our designers
have already made excellent
beginnings not only when it comes
to clothes but also to jewellery, to
make it available to an international
audience. As borders coalesce, we
see a coming together of the
traditional Indian way of looking at
clothes and jewellery and the
international approach. The same
thing is likely to happen as our
products like cars, motorcycles etc
become acceptable in the
international arena.
Design your career on the
management track!