NMIMS School of Design Mumbai

Prof. Manisha Phadke is designated as the Director of NMIMS School of Design. She is an alumnus of IDC, IIT Bombay with a professional career spanning 25+ years in Design frontiers. In 2017, she founded a multi-disciplinary School of Design at NMIMS University, Mumbai Campus. She has built, mentored and managed creative and multi-disciplinary teams and has demonstrated proficiency to imbibe cultural agility to work in Design, globally.

In an exclusive interview with Shalvi Jain, she talks about the design industry, her design school and more. Read on!

Thoughts on design and development industry 

According to me, this field challenges you every day. Since society and design go together, one is required to keep abreast with the new. Every project you do or are assigned to is a learning opportunity. The design industry is maturing every day and the playground seems entwined and experiential. 

One is always considering the user and the context. This helps to steer away from the “me and myself” syndrome. Moreover, design projects are now integrative, opportune collaborations with various expertise to craft a holistic solution. A designer has the ability to impact lives. This is an exciting and relevant time for taking up Design as a profession.

The field never fails to amaze you!

My interest in art coupled with an inquisitive mind led me to opt for a creative field. After nearly three decades here, all I can say that there has not been a dull day! 

Design weaves into your life and becomes a habit. One cannot really separate the designer from one’s core. It habituates you to see the world through that lens, enabling opportunities for learning or design interventions. For me it is a passion, an essence of my existence. 

Leadership philosophy and style of Prof. Phadke

Leadership for me, simply means is to set people up to succeed in whatever they do. Being there for your team always. Whilst keeping in sight the vision of the organisation, play different roles as required to achieve the set goals. Empowerment of every member of the team is my motto. I genuinely believe that I am only as good as my team is.

Read about NMIMS School of Design Courses & Fee

Evolution of the design industry and the curriculum meeting the standards

India is an innovation driven emerging economy. Government initiatives such as Digital India, Make in India, Atal innovation centres, Atal Tinkering labs fuel innovation at all levels. As companies mature to a work force augmented with Design competencies, Design is becoming a preferred choice in undergraduate studiesAs in established disciplines, aspiring design professionals experience a tug-of-war between lucrative corporate jobs and founding their own start-ups; even as the need for design in areas of social impact is increasing.

The design profession has transformed from designing stand-alone products to designing products that are a part of a complex systemAdditionally, there has been an advocacy for Designers getting a ‘seat at the table.’ The need for a trans-disciplinary approach when designing solutions is becoming increasingly obvious.

The design and technology report 2017 states that design has come a long way from how it was during the industrial revolution, to being an important value add in the business and engineering fields. And now, there is computational design for billions of ‘INDIVIUALS’ in real time at an imaginable scale. This has generated a huge demand for designers in these fields.

This evolution has impacted the design education in terms of approach, curriculum and pedagogy. NMIMS School of Design has incorporated this transformation in its vision and designed a program specializing in ‘Humanizing technology’. 

Now, what is humanising technology?
A lot of research goes into perfecting technologies like Speech Recognition, IOT and AI. But all of that is deemed redundant unless it is designed in a way that is accessible to the consumers, to translate them into seamless, delightful, consistent user engagements of being a companion, an assistant, a wellbeing monitor, fitness trainer accessible and easy to use for the consumers require the sensibilities and skills of a designer. This act of design to make technology accessible usable and delighting is ‘Humanizing of technology’. 

Roles and responsibilities as the Director

As the director and a faculty of NMIMS School of Design, my primary role is to sync with university’s vision of providing consistent academic quality, keeping the research focus and offering employable programs. In addition, add value by providing relevant input to scale the university status.

With regards to the students, keeping them engaged, motivated to eventually be professionals of value to the industry is a top priority. Our students are young and at an impressionable age. Our responsibility as educators is to nurture to build their character pertinent to be learners and furthermore responsible humans. 

We train our students to be problem solvers and collaborative Design leaders. The students will leverage their design skills, transdisciplinary knowledge and collaborative approach to engage in user cantered design projects.

Goals for the school in the coming 10 years

NMIMS will forge ahead steadily and consistently to be the most preferred choice to study future scoped Design. Besides, it will build the ecosystem to engage with the changing landscape of Design with regards to emergent technology and the user experience opportunities it can offers.

We will iterate to be relevant and focus on offering future scope programs, pedagogy, build infrastructure in accordance; train and engage faculty to be role model mentors. We will remain true to the mantra of our school ‘Challenge’ yourself to ‘Evolve’ and ‘Impact’ lives. We will mission to inculcate this culture through every aspect of our school.

What makes NMIMS Design School stand out!

The programs at NMIMS University have always proved to be employable. As a 16-year-old deemed to be university, it is envisioned to be a globally admired University by 2030. The University believes in quality programs and for this purpose has processes to ensure such delivery. 

NIMIMS is NAAC accredited with 3.59 CGPA (on 4-point scale) and Grade A+ for the 3rd time (Mumbai Campus). Besides, being a Category 1 University by MHRD / UGC Graded Autonomy Regulations 2018.

We currently have a number of well-established links with highly respected institutions in Australia, USA, Europe, and Asia. To name a few, University of New South Wales, University of South Australia, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of South Florida - USA, Kings College London, University of Lausanne -Switzerland, EDHEC Business School France, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Germany and Tel-Aviv University-Israel. These collaborations are for Twinning programs, Dual Degree programs, Student and Faculty exchange, and more.

The consolidation of accreditation, quality of the programs, eminent faculty, international linkages and most importunately a transparent and disciplinarian approach to education benefits the student in more ways than one. This is that critical aspect that sets NMIMS Deemed to be university apart.

Click here NMIMS School of Design Faculty

USP of Programs offered at NMIMS and its future prospects

The concept of the program we offer is a bit different that the conventional programs available. Each student of a single program can take on a different profile depending on their individual bend. Unlike the stream based programs where in all students of a product design program are product designers.

The student on completion of the B.Des program (Humanising Technology) will have the skills and capabilities to work in job profiles such as:

  • Interaction Designer,
  • Experience Designer for emerging technology,
  • Design researcher
  • Data Visualizer,
  • UX & UI Designer

Our program will provide valuable talent to industry sectors like consulting, hospitality, IT, banking, education, healthcare and so many more. If the students are not a job seeker, they can always take to start-ups as they explore the same as a module in the program. 

Since we are a University of international repute, our degree is valid for a master’s course internationally as well in India. The options are endless for a graduate of Humanising Technology, we will focus on paving all these routes for our students.

Major Challenge faced at NMIMS

The primary challenge we face is that of re-orienting the rote learning and theoretical approach of school education. Students are acclamised to consume and experiential learning. We imbibe a self-exploration, learn by doing pedagogy to facilitate Design learnings. 

We now need to move their alignment from being taught to what can you learn. To acclimatize them to the long hours of persistent hard work that design education warrants. Our curriculum incorporates this holistic maturing of being a Design Student.

Suggestions to the current youth

Give yourself the time, let your devices not overpower you. Ponder, assess, question yourself even if one does not have a personal goal. It is your future...