Friday, April 24, 2009

The second phase.

After spending my third and fourth term working on products and services for rural India, I decided to spend this spring working on an Independent Study researching more on women in rural India, the social dynamics and the culture, and what would happen with the introduction of various solutions - how will their roles change?

I gave my final presentation last week and now will utilize my fifth term to come up with a Field Research plan for my visit to India in August.

The first phase. contd.

A presentation of the same research concluded with principles that I developed for myself - principles that I could add to over the years. These were:

1. The value of research and co-creation
2. Entrepreneurial nature of rural India
3. Role of women in the rural society
4. Appropriate technology for local development
5. Sustainability and Community development

The first phase.

It was in my third term at Art Center that I finally got a chance to work further on my idea for a thesis project. For my "Systems Design Research" class, I wrote a paper on "Design's Potential Role in Transforming Public Services in Rural India".

The research carried out in this class aimed to understand the topography of rural India. By studying the available infrastructure and public services, the paper aims to identify potential areas for change and how design (or design thinking) can be applied there. Reviewing different initiatives that are already being carried out in these areas, both in India and the rest of the world, patterns of success can be discerned. It would also help to compare and contrast similar problems between different emerging economies. By drawing parallels between these countries, ideas can be borrowed and modified to culturally fit into the rural Indian environment.
Transforming Rural India

The beginning.

It was during the application process to Grad Schools when I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life. This is where my story starts. 

"My vision is to bring design to the people. I believe that design is a reflection of the users’ soul. Design is not only a medium used to express ones character but also a medium which creates experiences that defines ones character.

In an emerging economy like India I would like to contribute to the development of the country through design thinking. I believe that design can help public services become more efficient. Whether it is schools, communities or hospitals, design can help mobilize people and change lives. Most people who use public transport, health facilities and other public services have a fair idea how they could be improved but no forum to put forward their ideas. By seeking input from the users of the products and services we are designing, designers can improve lives as well as strengthen the economy. One can already see the shift in design’s influence on business organizations. From mere branding and marketing, designers are now working closely with employees to come up with strategies to transform the environment within the organization. The challenge now is to acknowledge design’s potential role in transforming public services and to use design and creativity to change the direction of government organizations.

During my graduate study, I would like to explore public services in India like a health or educational facility. By studying the present scenario, I want to create research tools to probe into the lifestyle and communication patterns of the people using this service. The inputs from this ethnographic research would then be transformed into design elements. The challenge would be to improve the existing environment not architecturally, but by designing new products and interactions for the same space; to create a dynamic experience that would be unique to each user."