Design

Anthropometry for wearables

Anthropometry for wearables

Lack of consolidated Indian & Asian anthropometric data for limbs, head and other body parts presents unique challenges. How does a design team get around to tackle such a challenge?

By ANAND PALSODKAR

Understanding of human anthropometry  is a crucial part of a design process. This is especially true with products like watches, helmets and new age wearable gadgets. These products behave as an extension to a human body and any use of these products resulting in discomfort would lead to a quick failure of the product itself.

‘’ The products we design are going to be ridden in, sat upon, looked at, talked into, activated, operated, or in some way used by people individually or en masse. If the point of contact between the product and the people becomes a point of friction, then the industrial designer has failed. If, on the other hand, people are made safer, more comfortable, more eager to purchase, more efficient-or just plain happier-the industrial designer has succeeded.’’ – Legendary American Designer, Henry Dreyfuss

Globally, designers & engineers rely on anthropometric data studied and compiled by Henry Dreyfuss Associates2. Dreyfuss’s contribution to the field of human factors is seminal, however data points related to specific ethnicities and for new age applications like wearables3 are not comprehensive & at times non existent. Pioneering anthropometric work by Dr. G G Ray4 & Dr. Deb Kumar Chakravarty5 on Indian population does not cover wearable physiological zones in the published version and that creates a large vacuum when dealing with wearable products. The design team working on one such project at Elephant6, came across this chasm and had to modify its approach during the design phase while working for Singapore based technology firm, SynPhNe7.

Undertaking the challenge

The design team embarked upon developing a system of wearable devices for stroke rehabilitation that included an arm gear and a head gear to record the muscle & brain response. The challenges were multifold, the devices had to be used by people suffering from partial paralysis with one of the sides of their body non-functional. The device had to fit arm and head sizes, shapes of population from Indian subcontinents, south-east Asia & China. 

The geometry of Arm and the Head had implications since functioning of the device depended on effective sensor contacts to arm skin and head scalp. Available anthropometric data captures only the dimensions of extremities & body parts, however it was important to study the shapes & specific dimensions of arm and the head to determine the profiles of arm and head gear. Such anthropometric data is not available readily. This momentarily stemmed the development work and subsequently led to carrying out anthropometric study of arm and head of a sample population.

Anthropometric study

In-depth user study revealed certain physical realities about the people who would be using such devices. Women wearing bangles, necklaces and those maintaining plaited hair, tight curly hair and people with baldheads & loose skin, all these added to the complexities. Anthropometric research was planned for a sample population of 50 in India & Singapore each. This sample population included men, women and children above the age of 14.

The study included measurements of arm features, circumference at specific points on arm, thumb & palm measurement. Features like circumference, nasion to inion distance, ear-to-ear distance above head were measured for study of the head anthropometry. 

The anthropometry data was classified based on 95th, 50th & 5th percentile male and female. For effective therapy it was imperative to have accurate locations of sensors for both arm & head gear. Sensor point variations were plotted both for arm & the head based on the profiles derived from this study. This helped the team to design the devices with adequate adjustability built in for the sensors that covered a larger part of the population.

Head shape profiles were studied to design the head gear to ensure positive contact of sensors with scalp. Arm gear profiles at elbow, mid and wrist location led to the design of common set of arm straps for 3 sizes of arm gear; small, medium & large.

Pain gain

Lack of data led the development team on an anthropometric hunt. A critical realization was the requirement of wearable data and its access while undertaking such development work. The design team acquired body part profiles & surfaces that helped design contact elements & affordances in the product system. This critical metric research led to numerous insights for innovative development work. After 4 stages of prototype testing, clinical trials of the beta version of this product system is underway in the US, India and Singapore.

Notes:

1.       Anthropometry is the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body.

2.       Henry Dreyfuss Associates, LLC is one of the oldest & most esteemed industrial design consultancy firms in the      United States, known for their work in human Factors and a series of iconic products.

3.       Wearables is common reference to wearable technology.

4.       Dr. G. G. Ray, Professor, IDC, IIT-Powai, Mumbai & Ramakrishna Bajaj Chair, Honorary Professor, School of Biomedical Engineering, IIT Mumbai.

5.       Dr. Deb KumarChakraborty, Professor & Dean, IIT-Guwahati, author of Indian Anthropometric Dimensions For Ergonomic Design Practice.

6.       Elephant, is a design consulting practice operating in India & Singapore.

7.       SynPhNe, is a technology platform, incubated in Singapore, http://www.synphne.org

ANAND PALSODKAR is a mechanical engineer & post graduate Industrial Designer, Design Director, Product Innovation at Elephant. A post grad alumnus of IIT-Powai, Industrial Design Center, Mumbai, he leads the product development vertical. He has worked on several design programs, notably CEAT Tyres, Nirlep Appliances, Thermax Ltd., Symphony Coolers, Paperboat and works on medical & healthcare devices amongst others.  

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Ideation!

Ideation

Life & work is full of challenges. How do we creatively tackle everyday challenges? One Monday Morning1, two young designers at Elephant2 share ideation as a tool to solve challenges.

I haven’t failed. I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work
— Thomas Edison
Ideation_Blog_Elephant Design.jpg

Innovators are supposed to think new. What do accountants do when they are faced with challenges?  Or, for that matter project managers or software coders? Is it possible to institutionalise creative thinking?

Tanmaya Rao & Shruti Jain, Designers at Elephant, conducted a workshop session that introduced ideation not just as a process but rather a tool to creatively look at problems. Given a set of constrains, individuals & teams were able to conjure solutions to unfamiliar challenges & constraints.

There were 3 main take-away from the Monday workshop;

#1

Working as co creative teams is an effective way to look at cracking a problem.

#2

Ideation cannot be a random process of simply starting to think at a given moment. It helps teams to arm themselves with a “Creative thinking technique” like SCAMPER6.

Such tools help look at challenges with a changing perspective. As with Thomas Edison, a technique can also help a team cover all angles and possible eliminate most ideas that don’t work. 

#3

Participating teams went beyond using the tools to note down ideas, choose a few promising ones, go beyond to execute a couple of ideas and most important, share.

“Ideation without execution is delusion”, say’s, Robin Sharma. When an idea is executed, it gets tested and there is feedback. It is feedback and subsequent evolution or rejection of ideas that leads a team on to a path of problem solving.

It may help to institutionalize the act of ideation first as a mile stone is the process of looking at challenges (just like say, Root Cause Analysis8 is one such milestone when looking at challenges). Teams must realize that an idea alone is not good enough and a whole lot more thinking, detailing, execution, testing is required before a problem gets creatively solved. Theodore Levitt, American economist & Professor at HBS9 had famously remarked, “ Ideation is not a synonym for innovation, conformity is not its simple antonym and innovation is not an automatic consequence of creative thinking.”, indicating that creative ideation alone is not sufficient to solve problems.

Having said this, the workshop did provide non-design & design teams with a mind tool & technique to keep handy when facing a challenge.

Notes

  1. Monday Morning Meeting, is a weekly feature at 10:00 am where the entire Elephant team gets on to a share & learn platform.
  2. Elephant, is India’s independently leading Design Consulting organization www.elephantdesign.com .
  3. Thomas Alva Edison, 1847-1931, was an American inventor & businessman.
  4. Tanmaya Rao, is an Environment Designer working at Elephant.
  5. Shruti Jain, is an Environment Designer working at Elephant.
  6. SCAMPER, is an acronym for 7 ideation & thinking techniques, (S) substitute, (C) combine, (A) adapt, (M) modify, (P) put to another use, (E) eliminate and (R) reverse, credited to Bob Eberle.
  7. Robin Sharma, is a Canadian writer and leadership speaker, best known for his The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari series.
  8. Root Cause Analysis, (RCA) is a method of problem solving used for identifying the root causes of faults or problems.
  9. HBS, is Harvard Business School.

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Entrapped!

Entrapped!

Glimpse of the ugly side of Design assignments professionals need to be wary of, while they quench their quest for the best.

By ASHISH DESHPANDE

Entrapped_Blog_Elephant Design.jpg

Mac: What's the job? 

Gin: Like the wise man said: first we try then we trust.

Catherine Zeta-Jones (Gin) in 1999 American film, Entrapment, lures Sean Connery (Mac) into a high profile robbery, building a mysterious appeal to the “Job”. Now, Designers are not con artists, but as a professional species, they do get lured now and then into assignments that seemingly appear exciting, but the full picture is never to be seen or shown.

One of the definitions about fresh Design is creating the “new” and for design professionals this is always an exciting proposition. As professionals itching to contribute with better design, we are always looking for challenges. While seeking opportunities to design is a fundamental trait of a good design professional, there are few situations that one must be on the look out to avoid.

Carpetbaggers

“We would like a full presentation,” said the corporate manager on the phone call, “Please submit your understanding, strategy & design creative. Our MD will personally select the Design agency. We have called 7 firms to present & pitch”.

Brand & Product managers do have a need to evaluate design firms, choose the best their business aligns with and it is their right to do so. However, it is difficult to understand full scope presentations that are not paid pitches. In their bid to garner projects many design firms fall prey to such requests.

The biggest resource in possession of a design team is “consulting time”. By participating in unpaid work, a design team takes huge risk with its most precious resource, “Time”. Beyond bleeding the firm of its earnable time, such risks end up providing opportunist clients with a bag full of free approach options and most importantly encourages a culture of free work, lowers respect for effort & intellectual property rights.    

Comatose Client

Any designer or Design team’s worth is the projects they have managed to successfully complete. Key to such successful execution of a design project is the quality of decision making from stakeholders.

Family feuds, multiple project ownerships, inter-department rivalry, not involving other teams, changing roles or business focus, financial woes and such other conditions can stall decision making at crucial junctions and simply hang seemingly good projects.

Though design effort may get compensated financially in such conditions, there is low satisfaction with design teams and usually it is a wasted design effort. Stalled projects disturb team schedules, lower morale and usher a general disinterest as time flies along. Since such projects see partial execution, there is little learning and takes a toll on meaningful design experience that one may have gained.  In the long run, such projects start bleeding finances.

 

It pays to evaluate & understand the decision maker while signing up for a project. How strong is the involvement of the decision maker? Which teams will contribute to the success of the project? What is the level of support the design team can expect? Are there any possible party poopers to be expected along the way? What is the level of control on the project to see the project through?  Commitment to time, budgets, approvals, business vision of the project itself needs to be evaluated right before the start. It is Ok for the designer to ask a few questions and spell out any emerging gaps or concerns.

Startup Hiccups

Last few years has seen a proliferation of startups. Most of the startups are design aware, are open to new ways of doing business and looking to differentiate. Designers do find startups as exciting opportunities to work and help them differentiate. Energy of a startup is contagious and working with smaller teams is always engaging & fun.

However, startups do display a few shortcomings especially with funds, resources and limitation of network. Major investments into a project are expected during product execution, launch & promotions. This is one area where most startups stutter to a stall, drying up reserves and most conceptual projects experience prolonged suspension periods. For young designers this is a moment of frustration & disillusionment and for an experienced team it is a loss of productive time & opportunity.

Any professional will tell that time is precious. Time adds to our learning as well as earning. When projects make a designer lose both, time & money, one hopes that the experience gained on the project was worth its while. When projects don’t see light of the day, when success does not surface at business level, in markets and with the user, experience remains on paper.

“It is your job to deliver the project”. This is a favorite punch line of most business managers or CEOs to design teams. It is equally important for designers & design teams to question the stakeholders if they have the wherewithal to support the project from concept to market. Any ambiguous answer to this question must raise a red flag.

As someone said that we must learn to choose our battles that we want to fight, those that are worthy for dying. Similarly, a designer must carefully choose the projects she should be betting design skill & time. And there will be times when on a time trap project, as designers, we must learn to say, thank you, but NO!

ASHISH DESHPANDE is an Industrial Designer, Co-founder & Director at Elephant. An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, he is a keen Design Thinker, a member of The Design Alliance Asia & Jury for India Design Mark. He has worked on several design programs, notably, Titan Eye+, Ceat Tyres, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Symphony, Paperboat and works on medical & healthcare devices amongst others. Recently, Ashish spoke on Design with Context: Design for Real Needs, at the International Design Congress in Gwangju, Korea and is the Product Design Jury, Cannes Lions 2017.

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Mango

Mango

Come summer and we think Yellow! Ever wondered about the inspiration & meanings drawn from this king of fruits in the visual world?  

By Pratyancha Puri

Mango_Blog_Elephant Design.jpg

It’s summer and it’s hot like never before. The one thing that we really love about summers is mangoes1. Yes! mangoes found in different shapes, sizes, colours, and their significance in the vast culture of India and around the world. Well, wondering why I am giving all this gyan2 on a mango that which we already are aware? I am not going to talk about mangoes and its benefits or how good a fruit it is in reality. This article talks about its significance in different cultures and how one of the most familiar motifs that we see around us has a much deeper meaning.

A mango look alike motif composed of two or three concentric compartments, embellished with flowers and other organic elements are called ‘Paisley’. Its name is derived from a town in west

Scotland, Paisley, hub for textiles where Paisley designs were first used, so much that there is a Paisley Museum3embellished with paisley’s first ever used artefacts & paintings.

The symbolic ‘kairi’4 shaped motif, known internationally as paisley continued its appearance in the Indian sub continent even during the fourth period culture or the age of foreign invasion 500 BC – 500 AD. People from west brought their diverse culture and with their culture came Paisley, which later became popular in Kashmir5 and wove its way into the Pashmina6 shawls. Inspired by Persian7 art, the Mughal8 emperor Humayun9 brought in Paisley as a vibrant piece of art & design, which is still seen embedded within different crafts around the Indian sub continent.

Paisley in Art & Design

Wood handstamp for textile printing traditional paisley designs, Isfahan, Iran.

Wood handstamp for textile printing traditional paisley designs, Isfahan, Iran.

Block printing

An ancient art still being practised in different parts of India witnesses the use of Paisley vividly.

Chikankari – Lucknow10

The word Chikankari has been derived from a Persian word Chakin or Chakeen, which means creating delicate patterns on a fabric and creating cloth, shaped with needlework. Paisley is common to block prints and Lucknow embroidery.

Kalamkari – Rajasthan11

Kalamkari is an ancient style of hand painting done on cotton or silk fabric with a tamarind12 pen, using natural dyes. The word Kalamkari is derived from a Persian word where ‘kalam‘ that means pen and ‘kari‘ refers to craftsmanship. Motifs used in Kalamkari vary from flowers, peacock, Paisleys to sacred characters of Hindu epics like Mahabharata13 & Ramayana14.

Kantha – Bangladesh

This type of embroidery is done on old saris stacked on each other and hand-stitched to make a thin piece of cushion & bed covers. Well I guess, that’s what inspired traditional handcraft artisans to come up with furnishing solutions with elegant mango shaped paisley patterns layered onto the fabric.

Handcraft in India is vast. The use of paisley is seen everywhere from Kashmiri Pashminas to Amritsiri Phulkari15 toJuttis16 in Punjab to Khandi17 printing in Nepal. If one notices it is clear that the extensive use of Paisley in Indian art & design is inspired by the Persian culture, and Mughal influence played a big role in introducing paisley to the Indian culture, so much so that we don’t even notice its presence in our day to day life. I am sure I have missed a few but you see, Paisley has so extensively proliferated across the Indian sub continent that it’s not easy to cover everything in one article. I just have one more fascinating story about Paisley to share.

Psy Paisley

Paisley became popular with the gypsies & hippies in the mid and late 1960’s under overt influence of The Beatles18. The style was popular during the Summer of Love 1967. Also, Fender Guitars made a Pink Paisley version of their guitar. Prince19 paid tribute to the Rock & Roll history of Paisley when he fashioned Paisley Pack Records and established Paisley Park Studio, named after his song Paisley Park 1985. Paisley’s significance with growth, fertility and ‘ The Tree of Life’ is probably why it is associated with travel, spirituality & psy, made popular in the 1960’s. The decade moved culturally towards a Rock & Roll swag in terms of fashion and also music, sparking the love affair of Paisley with The Beatles travels during their travel to India with the Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi 20 - with John Lennon21 famously having his Rolls-Royce painted all over in Paisley.

Filming a sequence for “I Am the Walrus”

 
John Lennon’s 1965 Phanton v

elecaster in Pink Paisley

Cover art for the single Paisley Park by the artist Prince. 

The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the label, Paisley Park, or the graphic artist(s). Prince & The Revolution “Paisley Park” single 1985.

Filming a sequence for “I Am the Walrus”

John Lennon’s 1965 Phanton v

 
elecaster in Pink Paisley

Rock the Paisley

The famous 1986 revolution was an avalanche of this tremendous fashion trend and Hippies created their own counter culture founded on psychedelic rock and the Hippie dress, which they believed was part of the statement of who you were, included brightly colored, printed  ragged clothes, tie-dyed t-shirts, beads, sandals (or barefoot), and jewellery, all of which served to differentiate them from the “straight” or “square” mainstream segments of society.

So next time you see someone wearing this leaf-like ‘ambi’ as we all call it, decorative colorful pattern, take a moment and think about its rich symbolism and rebellious aura which has kept the charm of this mango look alike motif prevail through the generations and making a strong impact on the culture (more like counter- culture). But the secret behind Paisley s journey through the centuries is its rebellious attitude and its diverse interpretation in our culture and around the world.

References & Notes

1.     Mangoes is the plural for Mango, a tropical pulpy fruit
2.     Gyan, Indian, noun, meaning knowledge, esp. spiritual or religious knowledge
3.     Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, High St, Paisley PA1 2BA, UK (Renfrewshire)
       Kairi is unripe mango, Indian reference, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kairi
5.     Kashmir, Region in the northern part of India
6.     Pashmina is a shawl made from fine quality goats wool
7.     Persian, relating to ancient Persia or modern Iran or its people, culture or language
8.     Mughal, belonging to Muslim dynasty of Mongol origin founded by the successors of Tamerlane, which ruled much of India from the 16th to the 19th century
9.     Humayun was the second emperor of the Mughal empire
10.   Lucknow is the state capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh in India
11.   Rajasthan, a state in western part of India
12.   Tamarind, the tropical tree which yields tamarind pods, cultivated throughout the tropics and also grown as an ornamental and shade tree or used in Asian cooking
13.   Mahabharata, an India epic
14.   Ramayana, an Indian epic
15.   Amritsari Phulkari is embroidery technique from the Punjab region of India
16.   Juttis is a type of footwear common in North India and neighboring regions
17.   Khandi, coarse cloth from Nepal region
18.   The Beatle are an English Rock Band, 1960’s
19.   Prince, Rogers Nelson, American Singer, song writer, dancer
20.   Mahesh Yogi, the guru who introduced the Beatles to transcendental meditation
21.   John Lennon was an English singer and songwriter who co-founded the Beatles

·       Handemade In India- Aditi Ranjan/ M P Ranjan

·       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fender_Telecaster

·       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paisley_Park_(song)

·       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_Mystery_Tour

·       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolls-Royce_Phantom_V

Acknowledgments

Ashwini Deshpande, Mayuri Nikumbh, Meenakshi aka menu, Nayantara aka billo, Book- Handmade In India- Aditi Ranjan/ M P Ranjan

PRATYANCHA PURI is an alumnus of Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore and is a Graphic Designer at Elephant, a multi disciplinary Design Consulting firm. The views expressed in this article are her own and supporting material provided by her for this blog article.

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Incident at a fort!

Incident at a fort!

A moonless midsummer night of 1990 when we had our own tryst with destiny.

By ASHISH DESHPANDE

The year was 1989 for certain. Yet, it is unclear when Elephant1 started. No one is sure. Perhaps it was that Design Management module in our fourth year. It could have been one of those countless discussions that excitedly took place on the stair leading to the auditorium or those precious wasted hours at NID2 gate over Chai3. Maybe, a hard date can be inscribed as April 16th. 1989, the day pioneers of the herd landed in Pune with their trunks, hold all & drawing boards. Another date that probably is hard coded is 02 May 1989, date the firm got itself registered as Elephant and a working deed was drawn out by a bemused CA4, who wondered the point of making the deed when Design itself was questionable in his mind.  

As fresh graduates, we saw the bleak landscape that Design in India presented as an opportunity. We were friendly, eager to learn, connect and people around were more than willing to help a fledging professional practice. Elephant survived, and a year later, excited, we plotted to celebrate our one-year of existence in the Indian design landscape. May, 01 1990 was pegged as Elephant Day, maybe it helped that 01st of May was a public holiday5 or in most probability, it was the most convenient average of various dates. 

We finished working late on the 30th. April. Yes, we worked hard those days as we continue the tradition even today. The plan was to pick up five Chicken Tandoori 6 portions, half a dozen bottles of Pilsner beer, hire a Fiat Premier 7(big deal those days, since we has 2 scooters between the five) and head to Sinhagad 8, a 1400AD fort that towers over the city about 30 km from Pune.

The herd started from Pune at about 10:30 in the night. It was a lonely drive up the hill to the base of the fort. There was no one around and we hiked up the fort to find a great spot overlooking the city in the distance. The plan was to see the sunrise from the fort ramparts and celebrate our first year as Elephant.

We celebrated nonetheless, consuming beer, the chicken tandoori, and talked our way through the night. There was no good shelter and we were lying in the open on the wild grass looking at stars.

That night, at that moment, life taught us one of our first lessons. Around 3 am., as breeze grew stronger and a chill set in. It was difficult to remain in the open. We had come unprepared, there was no torch or matchstick and we were in our light summer Tees. By 3:30am, we were shivering.  Rattling our way back to the parking lot, we woke up the cab driver and started our descent back to Pune. The driver, poor soul was obviously sleepy and lost control of the Fiat and the car scrapped against a Bund wall 9 over the valley below. The fiat lost its headlamp, side panel & trims and the driver lost his sleep. We were lucky to be alive.

We never saw the sunrise. I guess, Pune had acquired a new sun, for the next 28 years, all thanks to the lesson at the fort and our bone rattling experience. We got back and laughed. We laugh every year when this incident is remembered and how close we were to having no Elephant in any room at all.

The journey that began so carefree goes on and each year we remember the lessons learnt, adapt and shine on. The Design landscape has flowered and the herd has grown. However, what remain is that spirit, that took us on this carefree journey, and till this day, we get rattled, we learn, most importantly, we laugh and move on. 

Notes

1.     Elephant, is India’s premier design consulting firm

2.     NID, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India

3.     "Chai" is a local term for Indian brewed tea

4.     CA is the short abbr. for Chartered Accountant

5.     01 May is celebrated as Labour day and also Maharashtra Day in India

6.     Chicken Tandoori is grilled Mughlai cuisine recipe made in a traditional open coal oven

7.     Fiat Premier “Padmini” is a version of Fiat 1100 Delight

8.     Sinhagad, a martial fort 30 km south west of Pune

9.     Bund Wall is a small retaining or edge wall


ASHISH DESHPANDE is an Industrial Designer, Co-founder & Director at Elephant. An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, he is a keen Design Thinker, a past member of India Design Council & Jury for India Design Mark. He has worked on several design programs, notably, Titan Eye+, Ceat Tyres, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Symphony, Paperboat and works on medical & healthcare devices amongst others. Recently, Ashish spoke on Design with Context : Design for Real Needs, at the International Design Congress and is the Product Design Jury, Cannes Lions 2017.

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Innovation for the road

Innovation for the road: how design works with new business & technology

Roadside auto repair is a huge unorganized business in India. How do innovative business modeling, technology and design create radical impact?

By Partho Guha, Director, Elephant

Roadside auto repair shops are mostly run by small entrepreneur mechanics, located in every nook and corner of Indian roads. They tend to serve neighbourhood car & two wheeler owners for simple and quick repair jobs. With the advance of auto industry these small-scale entrepreneurs are constantly redefining themselves and finding their unique proposition. Overall there are a huge number of road size auto repair businesses facing tremendous challenge in staying relevant in today’s market.

Repair Mechanic business is neighbourhood oriented. They are small scale operations where the owner usually is the chief mechanic playing multiple roles like procurement of parts from market, accounts, trainer, liaison and such.&nbsp;

Repair Mechanic business is neighbourhood oriented. They are small scale operations where the owner usually is the chief mechanic playing multiple roles like procurement of parts from market, accounts, trainer, liaison and such. 

Autoji, is a young start up with a vision to create a differentiated business by making these auto repair shops to reinvent and be relevant. Taking up the role of being their support in re education, in-time doorstep supply and marketing their services. It is a technology based, scalable model to upgrade this demanding business.

Elephant worked on a Design led process to create “Autoji” along with R Sriram of Next Practice Retail & the AMG team. The team lent a language to the value proposition, brand, communication framework and design of retail space & expressions.

The process began with a deeper understanding of the auto repair shop and eco system. The team spoke with several repair shop owners, workers, fleet repair  workshop owners, existing retail to look at gaps in the needs, gaps & aspirations.

The final solution was a combination of tongue in cheek, street smart identity that lent respect to the service and was bold enough to be looked upon as a reliable service & supply partner, enlarged toll free connect, an application, a delivery van and an efficient supply space.

Trust was build through a series of icon-based communication. Many repairmen have low education or are used to local language & scripts. Using strong sense of visual icons and local script helped connect with the main customer base.

It is important that the language that is used and facilities for service connect with the key user segment.

Elephant_Autoji 3.jpg

The retail proposition was kept simple and functional with a emphasis on organized appeal, appropriateness and lower cost proposition. Autoji is a good example for how design can be an enabler for the business and is not a cost heavy investment.

“Design is not always about fancy store fit-outs, flashy neon lights & marbled floors. Design is about creating a user aligned business proposition, its is about new, relevant and differentiated service offering that uses technology as a enabling platform. Core focus remains the user.”

Elephant is India’s Best Design Practice (ET-Brand Equity 2012-2014 ranking) with a multi-disciplinary experience of 27+ years having presence in India & Singapore and has been transforming brands, organizations & businesses using Design led Innovation.

PARTHO GUHA is a Visual Communication Designer, Co-founder & Director at Elephant. An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, he regularly conducts workshops on design thinking & strategy. Partho is a passionate painter and divides his time between design process application, design led business strategy & roadmap and innovation.

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Being Woman

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Being Woman

Ashwini Deshpande, Co-founder, Elephant, looks at her career journey as a woman, an entrepreneur, today as a motivator shares insights that she found on the way.

By Ashwini Deshpande

In my long work-life of 25+ years, I have rarely looked at myself from a gender lens. Partly because women have a natural acceptance in communication design and partly because I have been fortunate to be surrounded by equalists. Maybe the unequalists fell off the earth’s surface & I never noticed them!

In recent years, with experience & reach, I am frequently invited to speak to women at various workplaces, in various stages of their careers. First such opportunity was at a research organization that had over two dozen women scientists. I was rather excited to get to meet these highly accomplished women and looked forward to getting motivated rather than the other way around. So I did not question the occasion much though it was held on World Women’s Day. 

Many such opportunities followed. Each time I thought to myself whether it is right to be addressing women as a woman. I would question often myself whether I would be considered less accomplished if I was a man, whether my limited success is unfairly attributed to being a woman, whether being a woman is a handicap or advantage. There was no resolving these conflicts. 

I can’t quite articulate whether the discomfort was out of questioning my own ability to motivate people or whether I was in denial that women are differently abled at workplaces. 

I have now come to terms that I was in denial. Just because I was fortunate and could pursue my path unhindered by family responsibilities or other biases, I had no right to believe that every woman had it smooth. 

I started looking keenly at this issue this year as I was listed among "50 most Influential Women in Media" by Impact magazine, invited by "Microsoft Women in Tech” initiative as a motivational speaker and invited by Businessworld’s "Young Entrepreneur Awards" conference to be part of an all-women panel discussion. 

So here are 7 insights that I found to share ;

  1. Every single merit list of any exam small or big has girls topping the lists. Why they are not seen in equal percentages at leadership positions is an unresolved pain point. 
  2. Large percentage of girls take a break from work between 28 to 35 because of marriage, motherhood, husband’s career choices, health of parents or in-laws. Most of them get married without actually asking the crucial question about equal respect to each other’s work. So, I rarely see a father in his early thirties taking leave for his unwell child or mother. It is exactly at this point that women need to be counselled or mentored so they keep going. 
  3. Girls give up too early on themselves. They take the choice of opting out as a way to avoid conflicts at home front. In turn they give up on their own potential. Unfortunately, this is rarely acknowledged by the family members. They switch off before they can shine. 
  4. There are many flexi-options available today that border on entrepreneurship. Women need to consider options other than full-time job or full-time home-maker to discover their own place under the sun. 
  5. Despite education, urbanization, nuclear families, global exposure etc, family structures & expected behavioural patterns have seen very little change. The traditional definitions of a woman’s duties towards her household & family still remain what they were in the last century. 
  6. Even today, majority of girls are brought up to believe that working outside the house is a choice they will make and that their household will not be dependent on their income (fathers, brothers, husbands are there to do that). However, working inside the house is a given and that they will have no choice there. So what do you think the girl takes seriously? 
  7. Popular media glorifies the traditional roles & makes vampish characters out of those who defy them. 

The list can go on… 

Meanwhile, here is a link to short conversation between Sapna Bhardwaj of Businessworld and me… 

Published on Jul 31, 2015

Ashwini Deshpande, Co-Founder, Director, Head- Communication Design, Elephant Strategy + Design, spoke to BW Businessworld’s Sapna Bhardwaj at the sidelines of Young Entrepreneur Awards, recently held in New Delhi, India. Credits: Editing - Vijay Shankar, Ratnesh - Camera, Head Video Editorial - Sapna Bhardwaj      License- Standard YouTube License

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Design for Common man

Design for Common man : A missing link in the new agenda

What are common people’s right to better design when it comes to Public Services, spaces and amenities? How can common Indian’s benefit from traditional geography based assets? Is there a way of creating a favorable environment to bring design to masses ?

Researched, compiled & authored By Ashish Deshpande

Design for Common man_Blog_Elephant Design.jpg.jpg

Background

India is the second most populous country with the fourth largest spending power. After the slump of 2012, India saw a surprising 7.17% YOY GDP growth in 2014 and is expected to marginally improve to 7.46% for 2015. The Indian stock market recovered much quicker since the US financial meltdown and continues to be up despite the Eurozone Greek crisis. One sees the Indian industry rallying to come up with new innovative products and services ranging from baked potato chips to a service to transfer money using virtual currency on a mobile phone targeted to the fast growing middleclass. NASSCOM says, there are 3100 start up’s in India and as the third largest base, we are adding 800+ new businesses annually. The marketers have no problem understanding the rich and the middle-class of India and designing products for them. What we don’t see is many innovations catering to the people at the bottom of the pyramid. The question! Is there is a role for design to improve life standards of lower two rungs of the economic segments in India.

India has demonstrated a huge potential for growth. Yet, what good is growth if it does not take into consideration the aspirations and needs of the common people of India. We can achieve all this by fulfilling the dreams of people.After over a decade of rapid economic growth in India, the biggest challenge facing policymakers at both central and state levels is to ensure 'inclusive growth’ so that the gains from increased national income are shared by all sections of society. In particular, it is imperative that a high quality of basic services such as health and education be provided to all citizens, and encourage ‘local’ development of traditional assets , since these are not only ends in themselves, but also play a critical role in enhancing individual capabilities to participate fully in the growth of the economy. 

There is a strong necessity to create a frame work to reach out well designed public services and amenities to common people in all walks of life. Isn’t that a birth right as citizens of India? India must take care of its own, whether rich or poor, whether urban or rural. In a country where investment in Public services runs thin, do we entertain expectations of common people to have a basic standard in experiencing public transportation, health care, education, social and personal amenities, traditional livelihood crafts and products based around Indian geographical indications?

Public Service challenges

Successive governments have always highlighted the need for these reforms but have failed to induce imagination. Limited resources spread over a large mass of land and people, has always been a barrier. The way to overcome these age old hurdles is to create a frame work which allows design innovation to foster in public areas and this can be achieved by creating mindsets, sensitized policy makers, implementers and a plan of action using design thinking as a driver.

 

Design is key to the challenges of public service transformation. And those challenges are daunting. Former government established National Innovation Council, and set the scale of what lies ahead. (Bharat Nirman Innovation Fund was set up to encourage innovations in India. Its nodal agency, the National Innovation Council is presently creating a gram swaraj portal that will link 2.5 lakh panchayats and address core development issues).

This has been followed by the Saansad Adharsh Gram Yogana by the present Modi government. Great initiatived coaxing the elected representatives to reach to the common people in model villages but without any reference or framework towards design. Design of efficient & safe low cost homes, homes that can be energised in elctricity underserved areas, toilets, drinking water, accessible healthcare, affordable transportation & retail as part Adarsh Gram’s. 

The Make in India Program was launched in 2014 with great fan fare but forgot the key prefix ofDesign & Make In India.  Another great initiative is Digital India, where our PrimeMinister made a fleeting reference to design. Are these references going to make policy makers & executers working for the government sit up and take a serious look at design? New and revised approaches are needed to be inserted in BOLD within these new initiatives which give impetus to designed approach & thinking,which connect the public into the centre of both policy and action, all this through the conduit of Design.

Public Service Design

A good example to demonstrate is the reform carried in the core electoral process of choosing local and central governments in India. An electoral process that affects millions and  which was plagued by the sheer size of ballot paper printing, booth capturing, huge queue’s, time to results was all made easy through a series of reforms in the process as well as introduction of the electronic voting machines and process. 

A 12 second delay and a system of checks built into the machine prevent abuse of the electoral process, the electoral effort is just a press of a button, has reduced use of paper and printing, the machines can be reused for years, whole process is faster so less time in a queue for people and by the end of the day the people of India have a result. This is a great example of innovation in public space where design, technology and smart policy thinking all together played a crucial part in creating an efficient workable system for one of world’s largest democracies.

Will such “Design for People” examples inspire us to look through design for public transportation, energy, sanitation facilities, roads & walkways, accessible drinking water, accessible & reliable healthcare and livelihood ?  Can we achieve a seamless alignment between the Smart Cities program and our Adharsh Gram’s (model villages) ?

Building capacity to design in public services

Design in the public domain will not occur at the flick of a switch. It requires public services to build the capacity to think design. That means supporting public servants and staff to develop some of the skills required; ensuring that they are aware of and able to deploy some of the tools – not least the design tools – which are available such as prototyping, needs based user segmentation or customer insight and journey mapping; building an understanding and appreciation of key disciplines such as service design and growing effective risk management at all levels of the organisation.

Bandung, Indonesia hosts a Design Action event which looks at design accupuncture through creative activation. It is focussed action based workshop between 100 odd policy makers & government employees and Designers to re look at prevelent issues surrounding Bandung. Issues which matter to common people, issues which will de congest, improve water, sanitation, lifestyle and safety. Bandung Design Action presents a perfectly scalable model to approach our common people issues in India with design.

And people are important – design innovation demands people with a wide range of experience capable of applying that to new settings so the regular recruitment, on whatever basis, of new people and new ideas is critical to success. In the private sector, the GOI & NID’s “Designing Clinic for MSME’s” programme is already proving a powerful route to innovation for many small – and medium-sized businesses  by making available design associates to work with industry sectors. There is no reason why that programme could not be translated into the public sector with equal success.

This may be translated in action through a design sensitisation program in various GOI  ministries, secretariats’, municipal councils & corporations and the Gram Sabha’s. The overarching idea would be to create ‘informed governance’. The establishment of a policy innovation program can act as a stimulus to innovation across various departments and send strong messages that senior administrators and the political leadership become open to new ideas.

The program as this level can be made mandatory course material in Public Administration service colleges and institutions.

This can be followed by a Design audit program which would evaluate the functioning of various public services and prepare a road map towards improvement. This road map can be put in a design action program through active participation between various design professionals and public service stake holders.

A good example here is the Ahmedabad BRTS for public transport. Compared to say the the first BRTS in India, Pune, an examplry failure program (2006-2008) , which was closed down after a few mishaps, the revamped BRTS in Pune has has still not been revived in 2015. The difference between the two programs lies majorly in the approach through design thinking apart from political will. Pune Bus Day, India, was a public event to highlight the apathy of public transportation in Pune through a Design led event & public participation.

Creating favourable environment through community movement

Whether we examine present public services & spaces or traditional assets, any co create , co develop program will require a serious amount of buy in from local communities.  Without buy in and participation by the intended beneficiaries, the entire design effort will be a waste being a one sided exercise.

Developing champions within local communities and creating design leadership at people level is crucial to the success of any design intervention program.

Sensitizing local leadership towards design thinking and making them program managers for such initiatives may be one way of creating community acceptance. Focus must always remain on tangible and direct benefits to the communities in question and this can be reinforced through rhetoric and actions of such Community Design Leaders.

Laxmi Murthi, Designer, founder of Uger, a social enterprise was concerned about hygiene and affordability issues with synthetic sanitary pads in socio-economic backward populations in India. Uger has designed sanitary pads for women that are made entirely in cotton. They can be washed as per usual home processes and hence can be reused. This makes use of sanitary pads affordable to low income group women. This in turn improves hygiene amongst these women. The pads come in pleasant colours and patterns. The inner stuffing is cotton, which does not add to disposal and landfill issues.

Pad making has given employment and work to women from the region. Projects like those undertaken by Uger demonstrate that design can address multiple issues for common people.

People participation is about putting people first & designing together

The expectations of the public are rising and they would sooner than later expect more intelligent services that are responsive to their personal, family needs and circumstances. The evolution of Indian Posts in terms of their services and Indian Railways from making train tracking, scheduling and ticket booking a pleasure is a great example of Public service improvements through smart thinking. Setting up of a design lab with NID is a step closer to bring design to common commuters (2014 Rail budget and following action).  Getting people to participate in the improvement of services will be a big step to include those “ little but crucial suggestions” into any improvement plan.

Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO says, “Over the years and through IDEO’s product design heritage, I’ve come to distil design thinking down into three key steps, a daily mantra of sorts:

_ Inspire.

_ Prototype.

_ Execute.

When it comes to looking for inspiration, here’s no better place to start than with people in real situations, struggling with real problems and questions. Public servants need to get out of the confines of their workspace and learn to recognise customers’ needs. They need to engage with local authorities, customers and staff to harness design thinking for innovation.”

Think what can happen with well thought out public health care systems, a system of well thought hospitals, clinics and outreach programs all designed with people and for people. The implications are gigantic for a country like India. We are revising the future of India. 

Barriers blocking Design in public space. How do we overcome ?

Acceptance of failures in public area is always problematic and any new design thought led innovative public service effort is fraught with failures and is intrinsic to the process itself. Rapidly absorbing lessons from prototypes & pilots, the experiences of early implementers and emerging research findings, and making this accessible to the sector. This means a different approach focusing not just on what works now, or has worked in the past, but what will work in the future. This thinking needs to be reinforced to both traditional products as well as public services.

An as a process new Public services can promote design thinking through heavy reliance on improvement spread and top-down dissemination (for example creating national guidance and toolkits that can be distributed through focused programs managed by the India Design Council).

“ But simply exhorting everyone to copy the latest bright ideas – imitation as innovation – ignores the fact that every local area has different needs.” This is especially true when dealing with traditional crafts, products and processes. “Sometimes innovation is about making old ideas work – or combining them in unusual ways – not coming up with endless new initiatives or continuously seeking the next “big idea. In public services, it may be that we need a concept of reinnovation (reapplying existing ideas in new ways in different places), as well as innovation (the first use of a new idea)”, says, Julie Jones, CE, Social Care Institute for Excellence.

This calls for creation of  a Public Services by Design initiative, which would offer a template by publishing a ‘rough guide’ to organising such activities, which would translate the rhetoric of policy into the reality of better outcomes for people. This can be followed up by a series of specialist briefings for different target groups within the identified sectors by collaborators from design and other fields outside the sectors.

Incentives & rewards

In the private sector, the pressure to achieve profitability & competitive advantage provides its own incentives, but these are not as strong in the public services. Organisational leaders need therefore to compensate for this deficit via systems and their own behaviour. But we also need to become better at designing incentive regimes which do not merely reward the highest performers but recognise successful Design innovation or design improvement wherever it is found.

This also helps highlight efforts where public services and traditional asset design incubation programs are highlighted for others to benchmark and be inspired.

Creating networks with knowledge sharing

Several new avenues for improvement, new stories of efforts will be thrown up in the years to come. Several champions for design leadership in people space will be created.

A national network which helps connect design champions, communities, professionals, administrators, NGO’s with each other to share and learn can be the new “Design Innovation” temple of tomorrow.

Like China. South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Spain , UK and many more countries, India must build destination centers that celebrate design & innovation effort, provide platform for people, craft & industry & policy makers to understand need, process & application of design. Contribution to a national design data that feeds research and acting as aggregators for various centers of excellence that can reach design to common, can be objectives of such centers.

Demonstrate

As a corollary to the design process it may be prudent to prototype or pilot the overall thought for making design reach out to the common people. 
Following activities can be undertaken as a pilot by present Indian government or the India Design Council;

1.    Launching the ‘Public Service by Design’ initiative

2.    Design Sensitizing module for public service administrators and community leaders

3.    Starting design incubation programs for artisans and frugal innovators

4.    Pilot design evaluation and ‘re-innovation’ program for one public place or service

5.    Pilot design evaluation and ‘re-innovation’ program for one traditional geography based asset

6.    Feedback research

7.    Fine tuning of a policy program

8.    Representation to a relevant ministry in GOI for national introduction of the program

9.    Creation of a nationwide network

Strongly articulated political will, design sensitised policy makers and program approaches will incentivise designers in India to look at design in Public service and one that will affect the life of common people. Design is meant to improve life and the profession will make sense only when it uplifts the life of a sizeable majority in India.

E Biblio;

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0

http://business.rediff.com/slide-show/2009/jun/18/slide-show-1-top-10-challenges-for-india.htm

http://casi.ssc.upenn.edu/iit/muralidharan

http://www.cloudave.com/1044/india-needs-public-policy-and-service-innovation-and-not-web-2-0-companies/

http://indiagovernance.gov.in/news.php?id=3

www.designcouncil.org.uk

http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/society/top-five-programmes-launched-by-prime-minister-narendra-modi-in-2014

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pune_Bus_Rapid_Transit

ASHISH DESHPANDE is an Industrial Designer, Co-founder & Director at Elephant. An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, he is a keen Design Thinker, a member of India Design Council & Jury for India Design Mark. He has worked on several design programs, ranging from energy saver appliances, healthcare products, dairy process machinery and energy products amongst others.

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Automotive brands in India : Matter of pride, passion & purpose

 

Automotive brands in India : Matter of pride, passion & purpose

What should be the attitude of an automotive brand in the context of Indian sub continent? Regional economy and people needs drive the way automotive brands emerge & behave.

By Ashwini Deshpande along with Ashish Deshpande

World over automotive brands have stood for finesse, luxury, hi end functions, if not more than often, for speed, power & vitality. In India, majority of transportation solutions serve the purpose of work commutation, people & goods transporters, and most importantly as a means of livelihood. Whether global or Indian, automobile brands get a cult following and people take pride in the badge of their choice.

It is important that brands are targeted towards the people who are going to be experiencing them as products & services. Brands need to reflect their aspirations, connect on an emotional level and build confidence by associating positively.

When a vehicle becomes your lively hood, people look for answers on more than one axis of their lives. The design team was faced with a challenge to create the visual identity with all its manifestations for Eicher Polaris, who recently launched India’s first multi-purpose personal utility vehicle. The answers lay in understanding people who would use these vehicles. The progressive Indian entrepreneur has no concept of boundaries as he is often multi-tasking personal chores with business needs. He is living every moment & making the most of it.

This range of vehicles is named “Multix” reflecting its extreme versatility aligned with the users’ lives. As a ground-up innovation, Multix is designed as a concept that brings about a positive multiplier in the owner’s life, be it home, business or power.

Multix brand is inspired by the local regional concept of zindagimultiplied” (translates as life multiplied) as a visual language clue. The badge has been designed as a perfect geometry, and has layers to discover & identify with the person for who the vehicle will be a livelihood partner. At the first glance it is a happy bloom in cheery yellow, which is also the primary brand colour. It also serves as an elegant enclosure to the multiplier symbol, which really is the essence of this brand. Multix brand is designed to be an enabler for unlocking & multiplying potential opportunities resulting in prosperity for the target consumer.

The answer again lay with the way people saw the brand highlight over a score of well-settled existing truck brands. The word, “Bharat” (India ) brought around a sense of pride with the commercial vehicle operators, made them feel special that a truck has been created for Indian needs. “Benz” infused that sense of technical expertise & confidence of a global brand.

Bharat Benz typestyle demonstrates expertise, and is contemporary with an emphasis on the word BENZ. The badging is a balance of legacy of shield & wreath from the older Benz identity and clean circular forms representing the global nature of the brand.

Adding to the Benz palette of black, grey & steel, the design team decided to bring in warmth to connect with people through a brilliant deep red. This also helped pushed the style & power quotient across retail & communication.

Old Bajaj Auto Ltd Identity

Old Bajaj Auto Ltd Identity

 People like change not due of its novelty but because the change speaks to them. When brands connect, they tend to ease into the mind space of the users. Connect in such cases is not just a seasonal trend, rather, an endearing sense of attachment.

Next time you re-look at an automotive brand in India, look from the eyes of its users’, feel from their heart and understand how they see their future reflected in the brand of their choice.

ELEPHANT is India’s Best Design Practice (ET-Brand Equity 2012-2014 ranking) with a multi-disciplinary experience of 25+ years having presence in India & Singapore and has been transforming brands, organizations & businesses using Design led Innovation.

Elephant has helped build two significant automobile brands in its rich history of 25 years; rebranding of Bajaj Auto and then a distinction of being the only design consultancy outside Germany to have created a new brand for Daimler Group called Bharat Benz for their India-centric trucks. Multix by Eicher Polaris is the newest bloom and makes Elephant perhaps the only team in India to have three automobile brands on the road.

ASHWINI DESHPANDE is a Visual Communication Designer, Co-founder & Director at Elephant. An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, she is a prolific speaker at several international conferences & workshops on design. Ashwini has been a jury on Spikes Asia, Design Lion Cannes and Design for Asia Awards. She is a subject expert on Brand Identity Programs & Package Design and known for her highly effective work for Britannia, Paperboat, Nirlep, Grandmaster, P&G and Piramal Industries.

ASHISH DESHPANDE is an Industrial Designer, Co-founder & Director at Elephant. An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, he is a keen Design Thinker, a member of India Design Council & Jury for India Design Mark. He has worked on several design programs, notably, Titan Eye+, Bajaj Auto, Probiking, Ceat Tyres, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Krusty's, Symphony, Paperboat amongst others

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Design Thinking in Retail

Value of Good Design Thinking in Retail? Effective 'Point of Purchase' Displays

How does a designer ensure all the goodness and efficacy behind Point of Sale touch points across retail environments? 
A few principles at work.

By ASHISH DESHPANDE

“ Few years ago, when my son was still a toddler, I took him one day to a candy store. It was his first visit and he was thrilled & squealed with delight. He ran about the store for a while with the intension of grabbing every bit of the colour feast unfolding before him. Eventually when I mentioned to him that he had to make a choice, he was confused for a while. He could not let go all that he was seeing in front. Finally, he settled for the brightest, biggest and the most accessible jar of candy.”

Concerned by the state of the world, revered German Designer, Dieter Rams, Chief Designer for the brand, Braunonce stated, – “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” Any modern retail or even a corner high frequency store presents a marketing & retail nightmare for creating an effective sales pitch at the actual point of sale. Customer may have been drawn to a store for a product brand through an effective advertisement campaign. Advertisements many a times are dramatic visual aspirationswhich present the products in a utopian manner.  The same products inside stores are a different story. They are lost amongst myriad of other products, store environments and simply too many people in our country.  

Retail thinking at point of purchase must be smart & effective. Purchase aids get fleeting seconds to engage the customer about product benefits. These rare moments are the one’s that determine whether your point of purchase merchandise is successful or a waste of valuable time & resources.

Modern retail today is a jigsaw of shelves with piles & stacks of merchandise.  Each is bolder & brighter than the other. If you are lucky to spot the product brand of your choice, you may as well clap and give yourselves a pat on the back. It is in these conditions that effective purchase displays create a breathing space for your products.  A well conceived product purchase display can very easily focus entire attention towards the product it is displaying, engage the customer (not entice!). There is a thin line separating a successful point of purchase and the ones lost amongst the packs of time. Good design thinking and smart application is the base of the few lessons that I have learnt.

Be innovative.

Great Point of Purchase displays are always differentiated. They present a new solution to display the goodness of the product in a manner not seen every day. Wow! moment’s can be built within innovative displays yet they must never overstep the product. 

Right position.

Point of purchase element must present itself at the right moment in the customer journey through any retail environment. This is that moment in the journey of the customer when her mind should not be occupied by other engagements. Catching her attention at the right moment is crucial to creation of an engaging share in the customer's mind.

Product placement.

It always helps to present the product at a convenient eye level. The product must be approachable and within easy reach. The visual access to the entire product must never be blocked in the line of sight. View must be the best view of the product.

 

Clear message.

When a customer understands benefits and key differentiation presented by the product on display, it is an example of good Point of Purchase. Message is dispensed quickly & effectively. Key points of the message are boldly presented and secondary information is segregated to areas where it will be most effective.

Visible aesthetics.

Shopping is an experience and a good display must appeal to the customer senses. Well-designed & executed displays add to the customer delight and general well being. They help create a positive attitude towards the displayed merchandise. Yet a display designer must always make products stand out through their presence or absence. Choice of colour, form and material must take into account the environment, competing products, shelf colour and lighting conditions.  

Tipping point.

Display designers must be aware of the unique selling proposition of the product on display. An effective display is a culmination of a series of events that take place in a flash, the moment your display catches customer attention. All these events must lead to effectively closing the deal by clearly indicating the unique benefits of buying the product. It must provide sufficient inputs to the customer to make an informed decision based on conviction and assurance. The display must help close the sale.

Honest.

Point of Purchase must never attempt to manipulate a customer with promises that cannot be kept. Displays should never portray a product in a manner that makes it more innovative, more powerful and more valuable that it really is at present. Very quickly customers can lose trust built over years in the product or even worse, the mother brand.

Design is Detail.

Great modernist designer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, once said“God is in the details.” Execution of your Point of Purchase idea is as important as the idea itself. Don’t leave details in the display to chance. Good detailing shows respect towards the customer. A well placed screw or a tacky sticking attempt can spell disaster for a good product launch. Remember the quality of your display rubs directly on the quality of your product and brand.

Life and reuse.

Many times the displays can be reused to display products over a longer time period. Displaying other products from the range makes the display proposition cost effective. Make the display last even in today’s use & throw social norm. Be aware of the life cycle of the product display. Think if the structure can be reused or recycled.  Can it double as packaging? This way your rupee runs longer and so do the resources on our Earth. Don’t add to the waste already being created. Think environment ( No client or boss will tell you this ! )

Keep evolving.

Prototype. Prototype. And Prototype. Point of Purchase is not a onetime exercise where you fire & forget. Build in a step in your process of taking feedback from customers and field workers. A designer must understand what works and what does not work. This is critical to creating flawless displays, which relate to the customers.

I have always enjoyed displays that interact with me, educate me and say, “Hey, the choice is yours.”   That is what I call, a great Point of Purchase display experience.

ASHISH DESHPANDE is an Industrial Designer, Co-founder & Director at Elephant. 
An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, he is a keen Design Thinker, a member of India Design Council & Jury for India Design Mark. He has worked on several retail design programs, notably, Titan Eye+, Bajaj Auto, Probiking, Ceat Tyres, Axis Bank, ICICi Bank amongst others

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'Make in India' + 'Design in India' = Empowered creators

Make in India+Design in India_Blog_Elephant Design.jpg

Not just Make in India, have Design in India to enable creators, says Ashwini Deshpande of Elephant Design

Success Quotient is a weekly feature that appears every Friday on Firstpost, which looks at the pains and joys en route to success for a head honcho - whether a CEO, MD or an entrepreneur. The column looks at the ideas that helped launch a company, its highs and lows.

Starting out in 1989, Elephant Strategy+Design was co-founded by Ashwini Deshpande, Ashish Deshpande and Partho Gupta in Pune. In a short span the company rose to the top with a distinct identity of its own and now represents India at the Design Alliance Asia, a consortium of design consulting companies across 13 Asian countries. Ashwini Deshpande, Co-Founder and Director, shares her continuing passion for work.

Excerpts from the interview:

What did you want to take up as a career? 

I grew up in Aurangabad, a small town. I was highly inclined towards art, creativity, advertisingand visual story telling in school. I was also good at academics. Towards the end of high school, I realized I was not interested in walking down the conventional career path of engineering or medicine. My parents were very supportive. So we explored options like commercial art, architecture and then we came across some information on NID, the premier design institute in Ahmedabad. Though I wasn’t fully aware of what a designer does as a career and there was nobody to find out from, the prospect of going through the professional design education seemed very exciting. In 1983, NID selected 24 students to join the undergraduate batch. Being one of them felt rather special.

How were your NID days? What are your memories of the place?

For many reasons, NID was a cultural surprise, even a shock. There was freedom, learning and exposure to global thought. There was a degree of social commitment. At NID, a student was only compared to his or her own benchmark or capability and never with anyone else. Years spent at NID taught me to think as an individual on a broader level and to be purposeful. It opened my mind, broadened my horizons. I also came out with a conviction that design is a team game.

Did your views towards design change after going to NID?

Honestly, I did not have enough understanding of design to form a view before I went to NID. But there, the first thing I learnt was the difference between art and design. I understood that design always has a purpose, a parameter, and a problem to solve.

Ashwini Deshpande, Co-Founder and Director, Elephant Design+Strategy

Ashwini Deshpande, Co-Founder and Director, Elephant Design+Strategy

Who is your inspiration?

Companies like Frog Design influenced us in the 80s. There were some great professors, but they were not in the business. There were some peers and seniors who ran boutique design studios. But there was nobody ahead of us in the field with a dream of large scale, sustainable multi-disciplinary design consulting company. So the excitement was to carve a path, create a benchmark and keep raising the bar of design impact. The Elephant team is my inspiration. My teams are my heroes.

What was the genesis of the name of your company – Elephant Design?

Our name is inspired by the story of the blind men and the elephant. We believe design is a team game. We are always interested in adding another dimension to the process to form a richer, bigger picture. The name has worked well. It has had an excellent recall. It also becomes the icebreaker with most new teams that we meet.

What was the first assignment that the company got?

Our first assignment was a big break. I was in Pune working on my graduation project with the India office of a German multi-national company. As luck may have it, the global head of corporate communications happened to visit India during the time, saw some of the work and offered me a project to work on their international collateral. I took it up saying we will do it as Elephant. That project got us a 100,000 Deutsche Marks that roughly equaled Rs 13 lakh in 1989. In the initial days, a consultancy needs to pick up whatever work that may come its way. That money gave us the confidence to focus on meaningful work where we could bring about a positive impact with design intervention.

We saw decent double digit growth last year. Hopefully the trend will grow.

What are the changes in your sector that you welcome? What do you think needs to be done?

Design being a nascent profession, awareness about the impact of design intervention is very low.  There are no measurable tools or any documented case studies that explain how design helped increase profits for a business. Now that there are many design schools in India, we should be able to have better talent and awareness. When the Indian government promotes Make in India, it needs to start with ‘Design in India’. Otherwise we will become a nation of ‘makers’ and not ‘creators’.

I would like to see Indian products and brands becoming globally relevant and successful. I feel Indian design needs to focus on staying relevant to its audience and not get side-tracked by trying to showcase an outsider’s version of ‘Indian’ design.

What are your dreams for Elephant Design and how far have you come to fulfilling it?

We have always worked towards building an institution that transforms lives. The dream was to stay purposeful, make a large and positive impact and lead the way for establishing business of design in India. It took time, but we are quite there. The next dream is to put Indian design on the mainstream global map of design, to make design intervention meaningful to the masses and to use design as a tool for social impact.


How do you nurture your creativity?

The best virtue of a designer is to stay curious and to not be judgmental. I try my best.

You love travelling. Does travel for work give you Me-Time or it is only work?

There is a idiom in Marathi that I grew up with: Kelyane deshatan pandit maitree, sabhet sanchar, manuja chaturya yetase far. It loosely translates to: If you travel the world, meet experts, interact with others, you may become clever yourself!

I never see work as something I need to get away from. I love everything that comes with the profession. Who can complain about getting invited to Cannes for seeing the best work in one’s field and get to also have an opinion on it?

What is on your bucket list? How many have you finished on that so far?

I have travelled across more than 20 odd countries. And maybe 20 more are waiting. I edited a book called Colours of Asia last year, but now want to write one myself. I feel Elephant is an inspirational story that needs to be told. So I am hoping to complete that book soon. Other things from the bucket list will emerge as I go along.

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Need to gain disruptive insights

Changing consumer standpoint: Need to gain disruptive insights

Design research is gaining momentum for establishing good human factors. What are the trends that will impact the design research, how does new technology play a role in this new evolution and how does one reach out to the concerns of the new age end user.

By KRANTI VANJARI

‘Design Research’ is one kind of proficiency that uses an eclectic approach to understand deeper consumer needs. Empathy helps designers create products or services, which are best suitable for people needs.  It would be half a truth, if we consider Design Research as a tool used only by Designers. Consumer centric businesses also have the requirement to learn their user needs, which ultimately leads to a greater business opportunity.

There is a noticeable trend that more and more corporate brands are adopting Design is a tool to serve various business requirements whether it is about developing a new product or entering into a new consumer segment. This has also brought in more challenging opportunities to both designers & design researchers to create & refine methods to dig deeper and extract useful insights.

Buying is not just about buying

Working on a product, designers were looking out for a key question. Why does this consumer buy that product? A standard interview approach was not helping. We stepped back and realized that today buying is not about buying for a need, it is also about getting the best deal. Consumers are aware of the plethora of options available today. This is playing on their mind all the time.  We applied an interactive play tool for our research, which helped users to configure features that mattered the most, were willing to pay, why and what they valued as the best deal.

It is vital to make subjects think and reflect on their needs, a little play, story, a scene can open out people to a level of preparing prototype scenarios wherein consumers can make real time buying decisions based on their wishes.

Online vs. Offline

If we ask a present day consumer, how do they buy, they talk about online purchases, price & features comparison. People rate the best deal for them, and then they either buy online or offline. Today, consumers want a comparison between prices and products before they buy; but through a singular interaction, the way it happens online on a PC screen. In retail spaces, sales people help to compare but that is not always efficient. This learning was another eye opening trend that we observed.

People as consumers are changing. Online shopping has made them accustomed to make quick and sound decisions – purchase is just a click away. The greater responsibility for design research and designers is to explore these decision-making patterns used online and how it can be replicated in a brick and mortar scenario along with an enhanced experience.

Reassurance syndrome

If an alien were to visit a modern retail store, what will it see? People with their shopping carts, looking through numerous shelves and buying things for themselves. If one takes a closer look at this scenario, people are not only looking through the shelves, there is a lot of reading people do on and off the shelf.

One can imagine several hypotheses in such a scenario; like modern retail spaces are designed in such a way that products are more visible, readable even from a distance.

Clean up the space, make the product accessible to the consumer.

Another hypothesis could be people rely on their own subconscious thinking which keeps on alerting them while in a public space - “Am I getting judged because my shopping cart is looking less heavy than others”, “Am I picking the right pack or people around me are considering me an unhealthy junkie”, “I need to look smart so I must read carefully before any purchase”. Such thoughts are output of natural human behavior like; Mrs. Responsible, Mr. Righteous, neighbor’s envy, be no fool and so on. However, environments are also catalysts to evoking such reactions. And therefore, even while buying a regular brand, a shopper in a modern retail will not just look for a brand, but will read the Front or Back of pack to reassure herself about the content, health benefits, calorie contents etc. Yet another perception could be increased consciousness around health and appearance, which has led consumers to read a lot on the pack before buying. This is a trend; we cannot turn a blind eye towards. What is the story your product is telling, which will reflect reassuringly on the target consumer’s mind?

The new age consumer

Some of these consumer trends that we discussed, such as looking for best deal, online buying models or drivers to understand a product gives us a deep insight that the choices and preferences for buying have changed pragmatically. Influencers to these changes could be many like increased awareness, exposure, connectivity etc.

Here the interesting part is diversity and ambiguous patterns of consumer behaviors. Today’s consumers are loyal to brands at the same time, they are not afraid to express their opinions against it, if need arises. Even a basic experience about a product or service is shared or tweeted for increasing personal social quotient. Review based websites are flooded with feedbacks on minor inconveniences, not only for making use of the social platform but to express people opinion. It is the arrival of an aggressive age for consumers!

A consumer no longer is the unsung meek but rather a roaring warrior with multiple faces of expressions like the mythology figure, Ravana ( epic Ramayana ).

Marketers, researchers or business strategists have to become more sensible to understand the deeper grieve and eventually win people by addressing best solutions tailored for their needs but also value at affordable prices.

To understand today’s consumer and to dig more into their minds one has to take a diverse approach in the study. It might not be enough to make few handful people sit in a discussion and probe them for feedback. Such practice may or may not lead to unfeigned insights. One has to customize methods that are best suited to the intent of the study, right from clustering consumer cohorts by their behavioural patterns or to deploying interactive tools, which will help consumer express themselves freely. The social presence of the consumers cannot be ignored. Articulations based on people opinions on social media will provide added knowledge about people’s both offline and online life. A disruptive insight is a denouement, which is best achieved with help of tailored user centric approach and tools.

KRANTI VANJARI is an Asst. Manager, Subject Expert, Strategy & Design Research at Elephant. She has a graduate diploma in Mechanical Engineering, WCE and a Post Graduate Diploma in Strategic Design for Business, MIT Institute of Design, Pune, India.

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