A designer is a little bit like God — creating reality out of nothing, but just an idea. With the help of technology such as robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing, modern-day designers are changing everything about the world — what we wear, how we travel, how we bring up our children and how we relate to others.
Fields in design
User Experience (UX) designers create products and processes that are designed to create customer delight. For example, several San Francisco schools have cafeterias redesigned by IDEO to encourage kids to eat lunch; a language learning application, Duolingo, has learning experience in which one can clear goals after aceing only three questions, which encourages new users. These services and products were designed using UX principles that start with the users’ needs and keep these as the centre of all decisions.
User Interface (UI) designers combine design principles with software skills to create websites, applications and games, which are user-friendly. These could be exhibition displays, product demonstrations, restaurant reservation apps or virtual tours of colleges. UI designers focus on the look and ease of navigation, to create virtual interfaces that are appealing and intuitive to use.
Game designers combine design and software with sports, and social psychology, to create games that are engaging, if not downright addictive. Gaming is being used for learning, curing emotional and neurological disorders, customer outreach and product testing — among other uses of gaming. Designers work on concept and story line of games, designing various levels, reward systems and logic. The lead designer is like a movie director who works on the characters, scenes, environment, animation and user interface, with his team.
Product designers use varied materials to sculpt and design in three dimensions creating furniture, cutlery, toys, jewellery, bottles, and other packaging items. They use techniques such as moulding, welding, grinding, machining and 3D printing to create useful stuff out of different materials such as metal, cloth, ball-bearings, and almost any other material you can imagine. They create drawings, wireframes and prototypes before perfecting products. With every business releasing new models and improved product designs every six months, product designers are in high demand.
Industrial designers are engineers with design training, who work on products that need heavy machinery for production, such as automobiles, biomedical equipments, smart gadgets, space ships and robots.
Transport design is an upcoming field with the hope of space travel looming on the horizon. The next decade is looking at significant revolutions combining automobile and aeronautical engineering with design principles to produce intelligent transport using levitation technology, in-city planes and tourist spacecraft.
Internet Of Things-based design of gadgets and smart appliances present a revolution in engineering, user experience and user interface. Industrial designers specialising in this can expect to work on home appliances that self-adjust to the presence or tastes of family members; music system that learns and builds customised playlists for typical occasions or self-locking homes with voice activation, among others.
Robot design is another area of specialisation for electronic engineers with designers customising look, structure and features of robots to suit clients, countries and cultures.
Fashion designers are also much in demand now. Changing lifestyles and culture lead to a fast pace of change in designs and a significant growth in fashion styling. Emerging areas include affordable fashion, personal styling, designing with eco-friendly materials like artificial leather and lightweight high-performance fabric.
Robot fashion and space fashion (for space tourists) are also two professions that are likely to come up in the future.
The writer is the author of The Ultimate Guide to 21st Century Careers (Hachette India, 2017). She leads Inomi Learning, a Gurugram based career and college guidance firm.