Design has traditionally focused on practical skill-building and immediate problem-solving rather than extensive research. While the field has seen a brief history of formal research, the need for design research is crucial in today’s era marked by a shift to organic evolution, user-driven control, community emphasis, and interdisciplinary problem-solving. India has shown growing interest in design education, but the integration of doctoral education and research in design institutions presents a significant opportunity for transformative changes.
Introducing doctoral education and research in design institutions in India can unlock unprecedented benefits, fostering innovation, economic growth, and societal development. Successful models in countries like the USA, UK, Finland, and Singapore demonstrate the impact of research-driven design initiatives on industries and economies.
In the USA, companies like Google and IDEO have leveraged design thinking, while institutions like MIT’s Media Lab and Stanford’s D School have contributed to innovations. Apple and IKEA exemplify successful applications of user-centric design. The UK and Finland have capitalized on design research, leading to economic turnovers, and Singapore’s strategic investments have added billions to its economy. Prioritizing design research can fuel economic growth and innovation.
While very few Indian institutions offer doctoral programs in design research, there is a slow but growing traction in design research among Indian companies, especially in user research. The country’s vast user base, evolving rapidly, has increased the demand for user research. Design research consultancies and in-house research teams in design studios are emerging.
Establishing doctoral programs that emphasize design research in Indian universities can create hotbeds of innovation, fostering collaborations between academia and industry. This collaboration can lead to economic growth through technology transfer, patents, and the commercialization of research findings.
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