Tangible Designer: From Animation to Industrial Design and Everything In Between

How was your University time?

During my undergrad days at Symbiosis Institute of Design (SID), Pune, India, I was a pretty closed person, mostly kept things to myself – limiting interactions with a handful of people. Though, I always tried to foster collaborative approach among my peers. We worked on many group projects ranging from drama to research documentation and installations to animation.

I have been very interested in watching movies in a cinema hall and since I watched so many of them every time I was accompanied by different friends based on the genre of movie they preferred to watch. 

I thoroughly enjoyed working and preparing for our annual college fest – Fundamental. Those were among the most exciting days of every academic year as students across all the four years came together to organize events, games and put together small and big installations. During the initial years we learnt a lot while working alongside our seniors and as we became seniors we learnt how to manage a team and our resources.

In those days I worked on many self-initiated projects during my time after classes, while also browsing through projects by designers around the world on Behance – a major portfolio hosting site. Before I realized it I already had dozens of projects up on my Behance portfolio and they were receiving good feedback from fellow creatives on the platform.

As my work garnered attention from the industry I was exalted to find my work featured in a national magazine and later I was invited to showcase one of my products at a group exhibition in New Delhi.

While my days during Master’s program at National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, India, were quite different. Over the years I have become more open towards people and experiences. I used to accompany many of my friends with my bike to sources materials for their projects. This is how I explored a major part of the city and developed symbiotic associations.

These were the days when I moved towards conscious design and started considering the systems that impact our society. I indulged more into reading and discussing about past, present and future of everything that crossed my mind. I realized, as a designer, I have to make a positive impact through my contribution to the society rather than focus on elevating aesthetics of products.

With a constant support from my friends and mentors I kept growing as a designer and as a person. I would like to believe that SID taught me how to stand on my own legs and NID has taught me how to run a marathon.

Why did you choose a career in this field?

Since an early age I was interested in exploring different materials and their applications. I have always been a maker, tinkering with different materials and techniques. Back then I extensively worked with paper as an art form.

This led me to pursue animation for my bachelor’s programme in design. I saw animation as a platform to hone my material skills and an opportunity to explore more such mediums. Because in animation I did stop-motion animation, where we make miniature sets using different materials and take pics of them frame by frame to make a complete film.

Being able to do something that I enjoyed gave me enough motivation to take initiative and work on many of my own projects. Whether working on academic or self-initiated projects I very often experienced flow – complete loss of track of time. Experiencing the process of creating something with hands that otherwise did not exist in the world always gave me immense joy.

During those years of my undergrad and later when I worked with the advertising industry I observed that most of the times as soon as the photoshoot was over we just discarded these beautifully crafted sets and the materials involved, mostly because of lack of space and high affordability of the industry. And I wasn’t very comfortable with such a practice. Also, during those days the many self-initiated projects I worked on revolved around product development. But since paper being my primary material I could not use these products due to low durability offered by paper.

This motivated me to pursue industrial design for my Master’s program, major in ceramic and glass design at National Institute of Design, in Ahmedabad. As with ceramics we can operate at any scale, whether as an individual studio or a full-fledged industry, the process more or less remains the same. And now the best part was I could make products, glaze & fire them and they were ready to use. Unlike paper.

What was your first job or nuggets from jobs you had that helped you get to where you are today?

During my initial internships at a production studio and other organizations I sensed I wasn’t comfortable with either of the lifestyles offered by these places – either there are no work hours defined and we are expected to work any hour of day and night to deliver creative work within the short deadlines or there is a restrictive schedule of an office goer.

I absolutely enjoy my work and can do it for many long hours but it is difficult for me to be at terms with a fact that someone else will control when I have to work, when I shouldn’t, especially, when I have to overtime. I believe as an individual I should have control (of varying degrees) over if I can catch up with a friend over breakfast, if I can take my mother to the market or doctor in the evening and many other instances. Also, I do not get to choose which projects to work on as a boss will be taking the decisions without my involvement.

I also observed that these organizations sold products that were made by me and other fellow interns. I thought if this is what they are selling why shouldn’t I make things by myself to be sold by myself. I believe I am quite self-driven to be able to discipline myself in this endeavour. This is how I realized that entrepreneurship is a direction I must look forward to pursue.

With this mindset I practised design service as a freelancer for two years between my undergrad and graduate studies. I got opportunity to work with varied organizations, from budding start-ups to established organizations, from different industries. This nurtured my experience of the real world scenarios and interactions. Over the years, building my network and honing my hard and soft skills has helped me to get where I am today.

How did you prepare for the interview?

As I have always been a freelancer I did not have specific instances of an interview. Interactions with clients happened mostly as an organic conversation. Being thoroughly aware about my work and the specific reasons for decision making at each step in every project helped me to fluently crack any interviews with owners of various businesses, whether an established corporate or a budding startup.

Can you provide some book recommendations?

Things are changing very fast in the industry; how do you keep yourself updated. Please list techniques or newsletters, podcasts, events, etc.

  • Attending events by GreenBiz
  • Attending various webinars by different organizers
  • Newsletter by Ellen MacArthur Foundation
  • Building and following effective value-adding network connections on LinkedIn
  • Following relevant accounts on Instagram
  • Having one-on-one conversations with peers from different industry sectors but sharing similar vision
  • Finding more about new topics on Google I get acquainted with from various webinars I attend

Any advice about CVs?

As much as it is important to be honest and grounded while presenting ourselves in a CV it is equally important to not shy away from all the achievements and contributions we have made so far. We must not filter things out considering something as unimportant. We never know who might find any of our volunteering experience interesting and relevant for the new position we are applying for.

Potential colleagues will never get to know about our work unless we share it with them, of course with the right intent. I remember, even as a student my CV was of 3 pages, mentioning all the features and awards that my projects have received. It was genuinely put together with a potential to growth, showing no signs of complacency or hubris.

I have seen few of my friends contemplating if they should add particular recognitions or not, if the potential employer would think that s/he is flaunting about some minor (or even major) achievements in their career. But CV is the platform we have to share our trajectory and milestones. It is the job of the employer to filter parameters not ours as an applicant.  

Advice for someone looking for a job?

I always look for two things, meaning or value-addition to myself and right culture of the workspace and team. I believe human life is far more important than just working to make a living. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an employee as long as we and our ideas are respected.

It is best if work doesn’t feel like work. It is a continuous growth curve and we ought to find tasks that make us experience flow as often as possible. A place where politics doesn’t have place in the team so each team member can focus their energy on being their best version without worrying about any biases. I believe these are the factors we should be looking for when applying for a job. If these things are in place our performance is bound to get better over time and so will the pay check.

Why do you think you were selected among other candidates for various awards and events?

I am a firm believer of this advice we all have been given over the years that we should walk that extra mile or walk the path less travelled, it is less crowded there. In today’s scenario where we see most of the innovations happening either towards managing and slashing plastic waste or technology driven digital initiatives; my work towards recycled ceramics comes as an unexpected solution to a concern which has always been in front of us but was never actually thought upon, especially as consumers.

When working with dry materials many times it happens that we come across a particular kind of waste and are in need of a binder that could enable us to give shape to such waste to be able to make products from it. And most often than not we are tempted to use resin or cement as a binder to make this happen.

Now the concern with using these binders is that what happens with these products at the end of their life? We practically cannot separate the hardened binder and our primary waste that was used to make these products. So these again end up in a landfill. And it may happen that these binders may leech into the soil, especially resins.

At Earth Tatva we are using clay itself as a natural binder to give shape to these industrial rejects. As clay naturally converts to ceramics after the firing process, we are essentially working with mono-material. This is a huge advantage while upcycling or recycling a material. This means that we can re-use any rejects from our production cycle multiple times. Thus, converting the linear ceramic production to a closed-loop zero waste manufacturing process, adhering to the principles of circular economy.

Earth Tatva’s products made from recycled ceramics not only reduce mining for natural resources by 60% but also have high aesthetic quality and are stronger than traditional ceramics, apart from being 100% recyclable and reducing energy consumption during the firing process. Thus, the whole idea busts a lot of myths around recycled products.

Lessons from jobs that you couldn’t get.

One major incident of an entry point I couldn’t get through is in the Master’s program at NID during my first attempt. I applied for the Master’s course as soon as I completed my Bachelor’s course and being just out of college without much of industry experience, even though I cleared the entrance test I performed terribly during the interview. And I couldn’t get an admission that year.

This was a blessing in disguise which I realized after a couple of years when I was enrolled in the Master’s course at NID. After not being able to make it through I worked as a freelancer for two years and this experience gave me a lot of necessary exposure towards building my soft skills and understanding what I really want to do in my career.

Owing to those two years of industry experience I could confidently sail through various stages of admission procedures for the Master’s program the next time I applied. Also, during the course I was quite focused on what are the things I need to learn and what isn’t my cup of tea.

I am so glad I couldn’t make it through the first time I applied else I would have been a diligent student but not knowing how and where to steer my career. Completing assignments with ‘A’ grade is not the purpose of any course, we must be able to find applications in the real world for what we learn in an academic environment.

Also read Top Gaming Companies

Tangible Designer: From Animation to Industrial Design and Everything In Between

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top