Design driven low cost sustainable solutions combat COVID

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New Delhi: “As economies navigate the stark realities of a full blown humanitarian crisis, the key question is how do we come out of this situation by not only saving lives but livelihoods as well”, said Mr. Deep Kapuria, Chairman, CII National Committee on Design and Chairman, The Hi-Tech Group, during the inaugural session of the India Industrial Design Conclave. Delving into the overarching role played by design in bringing cutting edge solutions to address the disruptions caused by the pandemic, Mr Kapuria said, “Indian industry must explore new opportunities and move faster by integrating the best of physical and digital space to design a hybrid model of functioning.”

The Conclave was organised by CII in partnership with World Design Organisation to recognise World Industrial Design Day and featured prominent designers and design-led organisations from India and across the globe to deliberate on the need for fostering innovation by integrating technology, design and human capital.

Mr Srini Srinivasan, President, World Design Organisation & Chairman & CEO, Lumium Design, spoke about the global design community that came up with a variety of creative emergency responses, medical masks, face shields and social distancing devices., and made open-source design solutions available for anyone to adapt and manufacture.

As life and livelihood across the globe experience series of disruption we must evaluate the concept of new normal and how it can be adapted to ensure human welfare, business continuity & industrial growth.

Eminent speakers from Japan, USA, Korea, Germany, Kenya and Taiwan shared the global perspective on design innovations in COVID times. Sustainability and ethical practices are the need of the hour. “As designers we need to take more responsible and ethical actions”, said Prof Pradyumna Vyas, Senior Advisor, CII. Mr David Kusuma, President Elect, World Design Organisation & VP, Global R&D, Tupperware Brands Corporation, said “we need to keep the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in considerations while designing, specifically goal number 12, ie., responsible consumption and production”.

In Indian context, policy advocacy is crucial in creating an ecosystem around design and innovation. Key policy revisions will play a major role in re-shaping the country’s growth landscape and help industry encash the power of the momentum of innovation that has been created by the crisis. Dr Jitendar Sharma, Managing Director & CEO -AMTZ, Executive Director- Kalam Institute of Health Technology, said that Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) needs to draft a list of critical and essential consumer products and their specifications in such a way that neither international standards nor traditional specifications and capabilities becomes a barrier to trade.

Mr. Udayant Malhoutra, CEO & Managing Director, Dynamatics Technologies, speaking about the power of collaboration in product design, cited the example where aerospace engineers from his own organisation collaborated with biochemists from Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and doctors from around the city of Bengaluru to create low cost ventilators during the lockdown with material and human resource sourced from within 3 km radius.

Design education has also been transformed and will play a major role in defining the narrative of the post COVID world. Governments around the world are making efforts to mitigate the immediate impact of institute closures, particularly for more vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, and to facilitate the continuity of education for all through remote learning.

Dr. Vanita Ahuja, Director, NID Kurukshetra, said “digitizing course content will not help, rather design education should be a hybrid module that combines virtual and physical classes to create successful education programmes”. Additionally, Ms. Nandita Abraham, President, Pearl Academy, said, “it is imperative for institutes to take feedback from the students on the experience from past 3 to 4 months of lectures they have attended online as well as feedback from the faculty to make a unified outcome and not a single sided decision.” Prof. Amit Sheth, Dean – Advancement, Anant National University, suggested collaboration between various institutes to facilitate education and access to workshops.

The reflections of the day maintained that design and technology development, supported by increased connectivity and collaboration, must take CenterStage to bring New Normalcy.