Interview by Sakshi Aggarwal
Ms. Archana Surana is the Founder and Director of the Arch College of Design and Business.
Ms. Surana is actively involved in the revival and development of the crafts across Rajasthan. Her educational achievements include Computer Aided Fashion Illustration course from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Hauz Khas New Delhi; two years Diploma in Fashion Designing (passed with Distinction) from South Delhi Polytechnic for Women; Auto CAD Level-1, from Cad & Multimedia Institute, AutoDesk Training Center, Jaipur; M.A. English Literature from University of Rajasthan and Graduation passed from Delhi University.
Ms. Archana’s experience in the education industry
Life is all about lifelong learning. And when one is talking about education, it is very important to continuously engage in teaching oneself. The opportunity to learn and learn and re-learn is a continuous opportunity that any individual running a design institution has it. It is rapidly evolving. When you look at values of Arch, we talk about empowering, co-creating and evolving. So, being into education industry has helped each one of us, whether we are employed here, whether we are students or learners. As I am a women entrepreneur, this brings a lot of women closer to this organization and also because design education was traditionally perceived as a course for women. But that’s not entirely correct. We have around 45% of our students being male. And if we look at the government and textile, furniture infrastructure, handicrafts, jewellery industry, it is predominant that the men were actually running these industries. Women have a contribution to its growth at different levels, within the organized or the unorganized sector, but it is still a male-dominated and oriented industry.
Piece of advice for the students
I was not very ambitious, but I was ambitious about my day to day goals. So, I made sure that my short-term goals were my everyday goals, and I met my everyday goals. I started from a 2-room set up from where is started training individuals, and today it is an institution where we have trained more than 6,000 individuals in the last 15 years. So, I would suggest individuals to take up their everyday goals very seriously, achieve them, move on to take bigger ones. Because in this world of disruptions, when everything is changing so rapidly, you got to be looking at how you will be achieving one by one. While one is looking at short-term goals, it is again about giving in your best every day. One has to follow one’s own heart and believe in what one wants today.
Ms. Archana’s philosophy of leadership and your leadership style
I believe that a leader is somebody who is hands-on the whole experience of being in design. Even if he/she fails in endeavours, he/she must never fail in the long run, because you know the game in and out. Being hands-on is very important, being in it and around it is the only way to understand it.
Curriculum in Arch College of Design and Business
While we talk about design, it is all about leaving people with an experience. The experience of having seen something that’s they haven’t seen before. We want to reach out stakeholders who are our global partners, the universities that we are connected with, we sit on a lot of international forums, we do a lot of joint projects with clusters/communities so that everybody is left with an experience of having gotten something that’s really leading.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available at Arch College of Design and Business
Creative entrepreneurship is what we all stand for. Entrepreneurship has the opportunity to a lot of creation while one is constantly evolving. I think the opportunity to be creative is something that only can have an entrepreneur sustain. The design is highly dynamic in nature, and while you are in a dynamic environment, you have to be constantly creative to open up new avenues for yourself and people around you.
Ms. Archana’s relation with the students
I started my career as an educator. Today, whatever I am doing is because there are students that I am interested in. I want to make a difference in people’s life. And this opportunity is available to me at all times. To be able to share my experience of 15-17 years of journey being on various industry and international forums, I get an opportunity to talk to my students, and my keen interest in clothing, textiles, jewellery and all these courses that I have developed through the years keeps me very close to my students
Ideal school environment according to Ms. Archana
I believe in holistic living. By holistic living I mean, I have a deep understanding of the spiritual aspect of life, which would mean to look at the evolution of the inner self. We do practice meditation here, vipassana meditation, annapaan is what we practice here on a daily basis, 10 min of meditation for faculty and students. The intent is that we try and expose them to a lot of projects within the classroom and with the industry to ensure that they connect with people. This is because when they connect with people there is a huge realization of who one is and what is possible. The environment is not just restricted to the classroom, the classroom is actually the world and that is what we try and bring in.
Goals in mind for Arch College of Design and Business for the next few years
We were affiliated to the University of Rajasthan since 2004, offering BBA degree alongside our international qualifications. Our students could get a degree from the UK just after having studied one year with us. But now, with all the effort that we have put into, the Rajasthan university has granted us B.Des qualification in fashion, interior, jewelry, craft and accessory design.
It makes very interesting for us to now be able to give a full-fledged clean award recognized by the UGC and one of the most renowned and prestigious universities that are going to offer these programs. We have a B.Des 4 year undergraduate course, alongside we have a Pearson B.Tech degree, in which for 2 years you study with us and 3rd year you complete the degree in the UK, which is a unique offer. Nobody in the industry offers this. We have tied up with Manchester Fashion Institute which is one of the leading fashion colleges, Manchester Metropolitan, University of North Hampton, University of Salford. These are big universities with a good population of 20-25,000 students on campus, with unique design departments. We have got the faculty of design and business, of international studies and art design and business, of skills and design and entrepreneurship. These are vocational in nature, B.Voc degrees, but completely job oriented. We have got Bachelor in Fashion, Interior, Graphic, Jewelry design and Mass Communication that we are starting this year.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students
Design, I feel, is a multi-disciplinary program and understanding just the technical aspect of creation of a product is not enough. You have to understand the cultural prospect, and the need of the society and create opportunities also. Design has a very good role to play, in terms of the evolution of any economy or society. The western world is developed because they are very much evolved in their design sense. India, on the other hand, was dealing with “roti, kapda aur makaan”. So, we are still dealing with our basic needs. But now I see the coming decade is going to be the decade of design education.
India is one of the most promising nations in the world with a huge demographic dividend and the dividend that we can catch on, we are a very hard-working nation. We have a global perspective and that is a great opportunity for the younger generation to look forward for design, because design is relevant everywhere, and we cannot negate the importance of what design education can bring to this nation.