The Indian Institute of Art and Design (IIAD) in collaboration with Kingston School of Art (KSA) at Kingston University, London, offers a creative, studio-based education through its three rigorous BA (Honours) degree programmes in Interior Architecture, Fashion Design and Communication Design.
Working as a designer is more than doing a job. It is a unique way of seeing and a way of interacting with the world. Indeed, it is a way of life. However, with stagnant curricula and outdated teaching methodologies, many Indian institutions have failed to instill this philosophy in students, resulting in a mass production of unemployable graduates.
Located in Delhi, Indian Institute of Art and Design (IIAD) is creating a new wave in the Indian design education sector by collaborating with Kingston School of Art (KSA), a pioneer in art and design education with over 127 years of innovation and achievement to its credit. "We are KSA's only international collaborative partner in the field of design and share a common goal of nurturing raw design talent and equipping them with industry-ready skill sets," says Dr. Jitin Chadha, Founder and Director, IIAD. Even though the faculty members of Kingston University do not teach directly on IIAD courses, the curriculum developed for each of the design programmes has been validated with the direct involvement of the concerned Kingston University course teams. Upon successful completion of their graduation, students of IIAD will be awarded the degree by Kingston University, London. This puts them on an equal footing with students graduating after pursuing their undergraduate programmes directly at Kingston University, London.
"The tie-up helps us get unfettered access to the high-quality standards and procedures adhered to at Kingston University, and gives us the opportunity to emulate the best practices within an Indian context. Every year a panel from Kingston University visits IIAD to assess the student work across disciplines and ensures that the course delivery and assessment is consistent with UK standards in art and design," states Dr. Chadha. Students graduating from IIAD, stand to avail alumni bursaries for postgraduate programmes at Kingston University and can apply directly to design schools internationally.
Promoting Design Thinking
A young educational entrepreneur and a PhD holder in Finance, Dr. Chadha considers IIAD's new-age learner-centric curriculum and pedagogy to be one of the most unique propositions of the Institute. He says, "Design, by definition, is about problem solving and requires the practitioner to think of creative, but viable solutions to problems facing the end user, the client, the organization, the community or the country at large. Our biggest achievement has been in designing a curriculum and delivery model that promotes design thinking."
IIAD was established with a clear purpose of preparing industry-ready professionals for the growing creative businesses in India. Dr. Chadha adds, "During our strategic interactions with the industry while conceiving our programmes, a major area of concern brought forth by employers was that irrespective of the discipline or the industry verticals, the graduates who are well versed in subject-matter knowledge, are not independent workers, as they lack essential professional and life skills that are required on the job." The curriculum and pedagogy of IIAD are strongly rooted in a 'studio-based' approach with a focus on simulating the real work environment and design contexts within which a designer operates. This approach aims to groom students into designers who are accustomed to the rigours of professional practice and they learn not just through mandatory internships but also in their regular work at IIAD throughout the year.
"Our approach will help the students learn experientially, where they 'learn by doing' and 'think with their hands'. They learn beyond the confines of 'books' and 'classrooms' by working on real-life project briefs with actual clients to critically analyze and address design challenges in different industries," claims Dr. Chadha. As the curriculum is designed and delivered by faculty members who are or have been practicing designers and industry stalwarts, students of IIAD get access to a holistic and cutting-edge education that meets the requirements of the global design industry. The result - a crop of designers who are reflective, independent, contextually rooted in their professional practice and with ample practical experience through their studio work and internships through the 4-years in the degree programme.
The faculty at IIAD comprises accomplished design professionals and academicians who have extensive global experience. Fuelled by the urge to keep learning and growing, they are active participants of international workshops, seminars, presentations and conferences on the subject. The innovative teaching-learning methodology followed by them allows for multi-dimensional exchange of information, achieved through studio-based mentor-driven modules. This transition from classroom-based, teacher-directed learning to a studio-based mentor-supported learning environment is employed not just in the Foundation Year (1st year), but also throughout the course of the degree programmes taught at IIAD. "Our emphasis is on shaping an attitude in students that empowers them to think independently and chart a successful future. Design education involves introducing the students to a mix of principles of traditional design and human experiences, and this is exactly the manner in which learning takes place at IIAD," opines Dr. Chadha.
Upon successful completion of their graduation, students of IIAD will be awarded the degree by Kingston University, London.
Addressing the Industrial Needs
At IIAD, students are not just learners, but are also co-creators and co-practitioners of design. They get to work with real clients, on actual sites, making the processes not only real, but also far more interesting, where their decision-making has real life consequences. "We understand how the industry often becomes the unwitting victim of the separation between academic work, and the fledgling importance that is accorded to field work. At IIAD, we begin by addressing this very disjunction, in that our studio work extensively includes live projects," explains Dr. Chadha.
Unlike conventional pedagogy across design institutes, IIAD actively avoids purely hypothetical design projects and makes 'live projects' a daily affair in the campus. Here, at IIAD, peer learning is not just a plus. It is indeed a prerequisite. Dr. Chadha pinpoints, "this makes them well-informed participants in the design process, and, designers-in-the-making with actual experience when they pursue their professional aspirations, whether it is higher research, design practice or entrepreneurship."
The three design disciplines including Interior Architecture and Design, Fashion Design, Communication Design offered at IIAD are facilitated in an engaging studio-based format, thereby providing students practical exposure and hands-on learning in their chosen design discipline. The holistic teaching and learning approach ensures that the students graduate from the Institute with a sound understanding of the fundamentals of design and its application in multidisciplinary contexts. Students are encouraged to indulge in the process of thinking through making. This is an innovative teaching learning approach that helps students develop their critical thinking and analytical abilities that are core to the design thinking philosophy.
An Engrossing Infrastructure
The infrastructure of IIAD is a reflection of its core philosophy of furthering 'thinking through making' as a means of learning the fundamentals of design and its application across various fields of design. The institute has created an internationally matched infrastructure and facilities that spread across the 70,000 sqft campus in Okhla, New Delhi. The campus houses undivided studio spaces for each of the design programmes along with Material Workshops (with tools and equipment), Pattern Making Labs, Photography Studio, Construction Labs, Film and Animation Studio, Dyeing Rooms, Cafeteria and a Recreation Room among other facilities.
"Each year's curriculum has been divided into modules that are facilitated in workshops and studios with an emphasis on balancing a healthy mix of principles of traditional design and human experiences," adds Dr. Chadha.
The undivided studio spaces encourage peer learning to take place across disciplines and levels in the degree programmes. The skill-specific workshops/studios on campus give students a chance to familiarise themselves with the industry setup and hone their design skills before actually setting foot in the market.
"Here, we learn without lectures by applying ourselves on real life problems. While our curriculum and pedagogy give a framework for our learning, our campus becomes a physical extension of our teaching-learning philosophy that allows this type of learning to take place," summarizes Dr. Chadha.
Dr. Jitin Chadha, Founder and Director
Dr. Chadha is best known for his carefully conceived educational programmes. He is the Founder Director of the prestigious Indian School of Business and Finance (ISBF), New Delhi, which is well known for its affiliation with the University of London, London School of Economics (LSE). He brings passion and experience to the field of education and is committed to bringing world-class design education in India. He believes in quality interdisciplinary programmes that will nurture talent and intellectual curiosity and foster critical thinking along with giving the students a core skill set. Dr. Chadha is synonymous to quality education and IIAD is set to create a benchmark in International Design Education.