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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic identified in December 2019 in Wuhan changed the way I look at things now. With people losing lives every day and scarcity of food being the main concerns, thinking about the design industry and its uncertain future isn’t a priority. But I believe that designers can play a very important role in cutting through the noise of this crisis.

We all have a creative side to us and the pandemic has given us time to question everything and in a very short period of time we have seen the transformation in behaviour- it has made me think what is important to us. Each one of us has our ways of telling stories, and doing things like cooking, painting, or even starting a new hobby and that is extremely important if we’re to endure this sanely. Changing the urban patterned life isn’t easy but it sure is important for the future. Aren’t we all redesigning things for ourselves and exploring new ways to enjoy life or to just stay positive.

The role of Design in Pandemic pandemic - Untitled 1 - The role of Design in PandemicWe as design thinkers have thousands of years of knowledge with so many assumptions how a design should or shouldn’t work, especially with the industrial mindset but the current situations had made me realize that we don’t want design to satisfy our current lifestyle, but we need to look for ways to prevent our current lifestyle become a necessary problem to address. A designer needs to be a curator rather than just a creator. It is important especially today to think deeply into what is design and what design can do to transform the future?

The definition of design as a whole will dilute with time. Design will be just more than graphics and interfaces.

We cannot just think of the present scenario anymore but need to focus on the future and saving the ecosystem, making a balance between human desires, greed and the necessity. The design no longer remains human-centric but has rather become a necessity for transforming things for a better life. New technologies need to be explored instead of exploiting design based on the needs. We need to find multidisciplinary solutions to the great challenges of our time in order to rebalance our planet.

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It has sure given us time to introspect – Has design become mere decoration or is it functional? Are we consciously thinking of the environment while creating a new clothing line or sustainable design is nothing but a pretty advertisement? Does a public space designer think about the situations like this pandemic and will one be able to adapt to account for social distancing?  Does a Car designer think about pollution and traffic jams while designing? How many designers are working on any technology for creating masks and helping the needy to reduce this transmission? How do we make sure in the long term we as designers come together as a community to do our bit and help with situations like these?

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image source: scmp.com

The everyday teaching methodology has changed, it is impressive how digital media has made things possible for each one of us to share, and co-create and so it has become the need to have multidisciplinary thinking and understanding the future needs of the ecosystem. One can no longer think of design in isolation but to think in a cohesive way. As design thinkers, educators or policymakers we all need to find new solutions to make things right.

There is no greater opportunity to be creative than in crisis- Elyse Graham

Overall this situation is providing me some time to slow down and reflect on my practices. – What can I be doing differently and “better than before”?

Swati Gupta

Assistant Professor

Department of Fashion

 JD Institute Bangalore

This blog is inspired from the session attended by me – Chrcha on “Design for transforming the future” with Alok B. Nandi, Director at Spread Design & Architempo, Past President of IxDA in conversation with Archana Surana, Founder & Director, ARCH College

The role of Design in Pandemic

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