Located in the dynamic coastal city of Mumbai, the Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI) is committed to a new educational model inspired by the idea of design and innovation as transformative forces in society.
The world's first commercial personal computer was invented long ago, yet Steve Job's Apple Computers have made their mark and they did not create a new product or a product category to achieve that. The first MP3 Player in the world was not Apple's invention, but when they redesigned it and made it better, there were numerous buyers for it. Similarly, the smart-phone was not Apple's invention, but when they redesigned it and made it better, people were ready to stand in the queue for hours to buy that product on its release. In the words of Jonathan Ive, Apple's Chief Design Officer, "Our goals are very simple - to design and make better products. If we cannot make something that is better, we won't do it." Undoubtedly, Apple has always been staying ahead of their competitors by thinking different.
While great design principles are pervasive in the Apple DNA, the Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI) located at the heart of Mumbai is committed to a new model of cutting-edge design and innovation education, integrated with the commercialization of design. ISDI is not the pioneer of design education in India, yet. However, when we reinvented and transformed the way design education has been delivered in the country, the institute witnessed an exponential growth in the number of students opting for its design programs. Established in 2013 with 30 students, ISDI has over 500 students in our campus today. This only goes to show how quickly the institute has made their own name in the highly competitive Indian education sector. "We have established ISDI as a model for the new design education in the 21st century that would be measured by the quality of education provided. Our programs offer a very holistic approach to design learning and it is offered within a highly collaborative environment for exploration, experimentation and creative thinking," says Dean Mookesh Patel.
ISDI is an unconventional campus compared to the traditional educational establishments around the world. The institute does not possess a lush green campus, but it is a lively environment that provides opportunities to experience the manifested new every day. ISDI is housed in One India Bulls centre at Lower Parel in a vertical space of six floors with over 300,000 square feet at its disposal. "Though it looks like a corporate building, once you are inside, you will be transported into a very different and thriving academic space," claims Dean Patel. At the heart of Mumbai, the city of dreams, ISDI perfectly matches the beat, with ground breaking work in design innovation, fashion and communication. Eye-catching artwork hangs from the ceiling panels along its corridors and there are bright, colourful photographs and collages on its walls. Indeed, ISDI's Communication Design, a 4-year undergraduate course is all about exploring different creative aspects such as colour theory, interactive design, photography, typography, graphic design, print design and a lot more.
While no single philosophy or pedagogy effectively turns developing artists and designers into creative professionals, some shared methodologies have proven to transform hard-working students into exceptionally creative practitioners. ISDI's learning propels an individual from a design enthusiast into a creative innovator, helping them explore the efficacy of the essential needs in contemporary times through learning that includes hands-on practice, the processing of enhanced seeing and perception, and contextualized understanding.
Guiding ISDI in this process is New York's Parsons School of Design, a global leader in design education. The plan allows Parsons to share their proven educational methodology and give students opportunities to learn and work in real-world settings. While Parsonsï¿½ goal is to develop students' global awareness, cultural literacy and familiarity with the systems that shape creative, humanitarian and entrepreneurial endeavours around the world, their partnership enables ISDI to benefit from Parsons' rigorous curriculum, prominent visiting faculty, well-established student exchanges and global relationships.
"A glocal [global in theory and local in practice] design education requires a deep understanding of design idioms from all over the world.Here, we collaborate with a large number of international schools and institutions, which will eventually provide students a local possibility of employment," says Dean Patel, who has joined ISDI a year ago from Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University. At present, ISDI offers a series of globally benchmarked Undergraduate Programs (UGP), a four-year intensive program (foundation year plus three-year specialization) for students across the disciplines of fashion, interior, product and communication design.While, inquiry takes many forms in an art and design environment, ISDI believes that multiple research methodologies are paramount to developing innovative thinking and making and also to educate informed future citizens'a goal that lies at the heart of ISDI's mission.
One special place where ISDI students and the public encounter extraordinary examples of real-scale objects is in the Design Office. Dean Patel says, "Through Design Office, all our faculty members can practice with projects that we, as an institution get from industries. We include ISDI students in these projects so that they can get first-hand experience." Here, students learn to draw connections to histories, philosophies, literary forms and identities- all essential to building ethical, reflective, self-aware and articulate practices.
"Design is one foot in science and another foot in arts and aesthetics. To make good designs, it is very important for the left-brain and the right brain to play their equal parts. Hence, we encourage students to integrate diverse practices in developing their work by bringing in several industry experts to our campus," says Dean Patel. ISDI has handpicked 12 full-time faculty members and over 60 visiting faculty members to provide students a first-hand experience of cutting edge design practices in the industry. "The days where you can prepare your students just for employment is over. We have to prepare students not only for employment, but we also have to shape them as entrepreneurs and employ people to work for them. That is an additional requirement in the current educational system and we are keen on providing the right guidance through our active industry connections," opines Dean Patel.
Today, new models emanating from art and design are helping us to live and work more flexibly, effectively and meaningfully in a world that is rapidly changing and economically challenging. We need confident, creative and nimble thinkers who can navigate circuitous complexity. Like Steve Jobs said, "The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do," and ISDI is definitely the change maker of the Indian education system.
Dean Mookesh Patel
Prof. Mookesh Patel has been the Chair of Visual Communication at Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University - ranked in the Top 5 design schools in the United States of America. He received his MFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design and holds a diploma in Visual Communication from the National Institute of Design. He is the recipient of a Fullbright Research Scholar Grant, United Nations Development Program Grant, amongst other awards.